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: Jordan Knight, Jordan Knight
Lead singers going solo from their group is nothing new. Sometimes the solo venture happens when they are still with the group; other times, they wait until the group is on hiatus. Jordan Knight was the primary lead vocalist in the massively successful New Kids On The Block pop group. With a falsetto style modeled after the legendary Russell Thompkins Jr of The Stylistics, Knight led his group to numerous top-ten hits.
Knight wouldn’t release his debut solo album until five years after the group released their vastly underrated sixth album, 1994’s Face The Music. Boy bands had seen a resurgence in the late nineties as groups like NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys were dominating airwaves, so from a business standpoint, it made perfect sense for Knight and his bandmate Joey McIntyre to kick off their solo careers.
Knight’s self-titled debut album hit record stores on May 25th, 1999. For the first single, “Give It to You,” Knight linked up with the legendary Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and a then-unknown Robin Thicke. Knight was near his sound with the New Kids with the production of Jam & Lewis. However, Jordan was now 29, meaning he could get a bit more risqué. Knight never goes into the territory of a disgraced R&B singer, but he does make his intentions known to the young grown woman he’s singing to.
The album’s second & final single was a considerable risk, and Jordan decided to cover Prince’s hit “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man.” Jordan worked exclusively with Robin Thicke, and the duo turned it from a club banger into a tender ballad. Those who know the song can attest that it’s about a man initially letting a woman know he’s wrong for her, but Knight sells the material. Jordan’s voice makes the song his own without losing the message of a woman who lost her partner to abandonment.
The remainder of the album is an overall solid effort, with the producers getting the best out of Knight’s voice with creative production. “A Different Party” flips Sugarloaf’s Green-Eyed Lady into a funk number while guitar Kansas’s “Dust in the wind” gets the ballad treatment on “Close My Eyes.” Knight even finds time to link up his former bandmate Donnie Wahlberg for “Don’t Run.” A known Hip Hop Head, Wahlberg, Knight, and Thicke effectively sample “Shook Ones Part II)” by Mobb Deep on the track.
Although the album has a bit of filler, Knight’s vocal performance more than compensates for any clichés, if Knight’s goal was to prove that there is life beyond being a teenage idol, he succeeded.
Final Grade: B
Jordan Knight is available on all streaming platforms.
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.