Ron Isley, Mr. I
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday : Ron Isley, Mr. I

Ron Isley’s name is synonymous with legendary music. Even before I entered the world in 1981, Mr. Isley’s group, The Isley Brothers, had already released nineteen albums. Serving as the signature voice of the group, Ron never officially released a solo project until 2010’s Mr. I. Some music historians will argue that the group’s 25th album, 1989’s Spend The Night, is a Ronald Isley solo album. After recording that album, group member Rudolph Isley officially left the group, and that is why Ron is the only Isley Brothers member on the cover.

Following his release from prison, Ron finally released his solo project. Ron had fifty years in the music industry, so I thought his solo debut would be more substantial. Ron’s first single was the ballad “No More” from Fuego (who co-produced “No More” with Max Gousse). It is a decent enough song but is a distant memory for the most part. Sadly, the album does not have any standout tracks other than “What I Miss The Most.” The production is dull and even guest appearances from T.I. on “Put Your Money on Me” and Aretha Franklin on “You’ve Got a Friend” aren’t up to par with Isley’s talent.

I respect Ron’s attempt to work with notable young producers such as Jerry `Wonda’ Duplessis, Greg Curtis Tricky Stewart, Kajun, and Song Dynasty, but the attempts fall short. Since they had a prior working relationship, I am surprised R.Kelly did not contribute anything to the disc or Ron’s label mate Ne-Yo. If Ron Isley wanted to re-emerge into the music scene, then maybe a soulful tribute album would have been better. I would love to hear Mint Condition on Fight the Power or hear Joe & Raheem Devaughn’s take on “Smooth Saillin.”

Thankfully, Ron’s follow-up project was a bit stronger, and there is enough classic material in his previous years that Ron has permission to have a mediocre release.

Final Grade: C-

Mr. I. is available on all streaming platforms

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