For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Second Listen Sunday :Aaron Hall, Adults Only
While it doesn’t hold a candle to that magical time in the nineties, 2005 was a commendable year for R&B. We were introduced to the talents of Rihanna, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Bobby Valentino, and Keyshia Cole, who all released their debut albums. Following lukewarm receptions to their previous albums, Mariah Carey and Mary J Blige quickly returned to the top of the charts with their respective projects.
There were also new albums released by other legends such as Babyface, Stevie Wonder, and Charlie Wilson. Sadly though, one nineties superstar’s feeble attempt to make a comeback fell on deaf ears. That’s right. I’m talking about the nasty man himself, Mr. Aaron Hall, and his third album, Addicts Only. Part of the marketing campaign for Adults Only mentioned that it would be his final project. Interestingly, Hall had yet to release another album at the time of this writing.
When the album hit stores on May 25, 2005, I was living in the United Kingdom, so I had to purchase the project from Amazon. Aaron’s first two solo albums and his work in Guy are undisputed, so I hit play on the album with an open mind. Let’s say there’s a reason why I haven’t given this album a full-on listen in eighteen years.
Adults Only is an independent release from Aaron’s label, so naturally, he could not enlist big names to work on the project. Most songs sound like Aaron is trying to capitalize on the whole R&B thuggery appeal. On nearly every song, he comes off as a low-rent clone of a disgraced singer who shall remain nameless. Now while the real ones know about Hall and his off-stage antics, he was forty-one when this project dropped.
Even more frustrating, Aaron brings in his former labelmate Kci- Hailey for an ill-advised remake of Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven.” Seeing as both singers have that grit in their voices, the arrangement doesn’t work. I would have liked it if the duo had done something from The Gap Band instead. Thankfully the late Ralph Stacey provided Aaron with a track called “Your.”
Two years after the album hit stores, my wife (girlfriend then) saw Aaron perform at a concert, and he still had the pipes. I was twenty-six and finally got the chance to hear the classic slow jams “Let’s Chill,” “Yearning For Your Love,” “Piece Of My Love,” and, of course, “I Miss You” live. While Aaron still has a powerful and capable singing voice, the album is unfavorable due to subpar production.
If you didn’t already know, Guy is one of the opening acts on the New Edition Legacy Tour kicking off next month. Here’s hoping the momentum from that tour will inspire Mr. Hall to hit the studio again for a new solo album. Through better production, he can become the singer he was destined to be.
Final Grade: C-
Adults Only can’t be listened to on any streaming platforms, but you can hear it on YouTube.
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.