Jodeci, The Past, The Present, The Future
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Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday: Jodeci, The Past, The Present, The Future

After an excessive twenty-year wait, R&B quartet Jodeci returned to the music scene with their fourth album The Past, The Present, The Future. Arriving in stores on March 31, 2015, The Past, The Present, The Future was the first taste of new Jodeci music sans soundtrack appearances since the mid-nineties. As my homies Edward Bowser of SoulInStero.Com, author Justin Jones of Street Dreaming: Reading Nas’ ‘It Was Written,’ and world-renowned remixer Denny “DJ Soulchild” Sutton will attest to, Jodeci’s soundtrack contributions at the time were better than some of the R&B in the mainstream in 2015.

However, in the time since Jodeci’s reign, R&B thuggery had taken on a life of its own. While I will not name any names, let’s just say the results were not always good. Singers were trying to become rappers, and rappers were trying to become singers. One thing is for sure, though; they all pulled from the Jodeci handbook. The question, though, was how would Jodeci sound in 2015? The Hailey brothers Kci & Jo Jo had found success with radio-friendly pop material, while the DeGrate brothers Dalvin & DeVante focused on writing and production for other artists.

Fans got the first taste of the new Jodeci sound when they performed a medley of some of their hits at the 2014 Soul Train Music Awards, which kicked off with the premiere of the new album’s lead single, “Nobody Wins,” which rapper B.o.B. contributes. The song was a different take for Jodeci as the message was about ending domestic violence in relationships. 

The follow-up single “Every Moment” was more in line with the traditional Jodeci mixing with a bit of Kci and Jo Jo’s sound. There is a bit of autotune in the song, but the genius of DeVante’s production is that he does not allow it to overpower the track. Kudos to Mr. Dalvin, who still has a wicked pen game.

Interviews leading up to the album’s release hinted that Jodeci would take a different approach with their new album. Jodeci begins The Past, The Present, The Future with the song “Too Hot” featuring AV. The production does sound modern enough without straying too far from the up-tempo Jodeci of Jodeci’s early records. 

The slow jams begin with “Sho Out.” Hearing this song in 2022, while the vocals are not top-notch, it would feel at right home on an episode of P Valley or as the inspiration for a Tik Tok video. Quite honestly, the vibe and bulk of The Past, The Present, The Future has Jodeci showing the young bucks where the R&B thuggery started.

“Checkin For You” and “Incredible” are both still BOPS, and I remember these two songs being favorites on the first listen. DeVante Swing reunites with his former protégé Timbaland on “Those Things,” which combines the talents of both to a significant effect. Given how iconic Timbaland is, I am surprised “Those Things” was not a single.

Naturally, there are a few missteps on the album. “Jennifer” is a piano-driven ballad that I felt would have felt more at home on My Brother’s Keeper, K-Ci & JoJo. ‘s fifth album from two years prior. In addition, “Stress Reliever” and the Mila J assisted “Body Parts” make the mistake of sounding too youthful, in my opinion. Both are songs I would have given to younger artists, with the former going to Drake and the latter going to Pleasure P. Furthermore, we did not need different versions of “Sho Out” and “Nobody Wins” as both songs come across as filler.

Jodeci set its legacy in stone with the first three albums. Honestly, they can tour off the first five songs from their debut, the singles from the subsequent albums, and fans will come out to support. The Past, The Present, The Future may not have returned Jodeci to the top of the charts, as they have not released a new album since. However, it is much stronger than I remember as it successfully brings the group into the age of streaming.

Final Grade: C+

The Past, the Present, the Future is available on all streaming platforms.

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