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 : Lorenzo
Growing up in the nineties, I had the chance to experience a plethora of R&B singers. The market had such a colossal saturation that often, a singer would get lost in the shuffle. Lorenzo Smith, this week’s pick for Second Listen Sunday, is one such artist.
Lorenzo initially hit the scene in 1990 with his debut titled Let Me Show You featuring the low charting singles “Tic Tok” and the album’s titular track. While his debut didn’t make too much noise, Lorenzo had a chance to redeem himself with his sophomore album.
Arriving in stores in 1992 and carrying the moniker Lorenzo the album opens up with the lead single, “Real Love.” A catchy New Jack swing number, the song was a great introduction for those who may have missed his debut album.
Lorenzo keeps the new jack swing vibes flowing on the album’s second song, “Saving My Love,” which gave him a chance to show off his songwriting ability. Since Lorenzo is only 19, the song lyrics have a bit of a bubble gum sound. However, the singer delivers them honestly. As for the rest of the up-tempo numbers, they are not particularly memorable. In my opinion, they come across as juvenile and filler material.
As most music heads will attest to many times in nineties R&B, the ballads or slow jams were usually weaker if a singer had robust up-tempo material. On the flip side, if the slow jams were fire, the up-tempo material was mediocre. For Lorenzo’s second project, he showcased a more substantial side with slower material.
The album’s second (“Make Love 2 Me”) and third (“I Can’t Stand The Pain)” singles didn’t chart as high as the debut single. The former reached No. 21 on the R&B charts, while the latter hit No. 22. However, they validated the route Lorenzo should’ve taken with his music, which was slow jams. Producers Fitzgerald Scott & Joe Jefferson provided Lorenzo with the music for “Make Love 2 Me,” and the singer croons the lyrics in typical nineties style but sells it so well.
While Lorenzo explored sensuality in the second single, then heartbreak was the mood for the third single. “I Can’t Stand The Pain” features a relatable message with its sincere lyrics. The remainder of the ballads showcase Lorenzo’s vocal stylings; honestly, if the writers gave some of the songs to a more established singer, they would become hits. In particular, “Tic Tok (which previously appeared on his debut album) validates that Lorenzo was an old soul stuck in a teen idol’s body.
Final Grade: B
Lorenzo 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.”
One of the most talented men in indie music, Eric Roberson, kicked off his 30th-anniversary tour last night in Pittsburgh, so for this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to revisit Mr. Roberson’s third album, The Vault 1.5, which hit record stores in 2003. As Erro fans know, Roberson initially hit the scene with the lovely ballad “The Moon” while studying at Howard University. Roberson’s first record deal didn’t go as planned, but not one to just lay down, Roberson continued to build a name for himself by writing for the likes of 112 and Will Smith. Additionally, Roberson collaborated with Jill Scott, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Cam’ron.