For this week’s edition of Second Listen Sunday, let us return to the summer of 2001. Having already achieved success as a model, VJ, and Soda pop jingle singer, Tyrese came into the music game with a decent debut album in 1998. Two of the album’s songs Sweet Lady and Lately, quickly became slow jam staples and are still in my rotation today.
Naturally, Tyrese was going to do a second album, and he released 2000 Watts on May 22, 2001. In a brilliant marketing move, the album’s release coincided with the singer’s lead acting debut. Tyrese teamed with John Singleton for the director’s seventh film, Baby Boy, that would hit theaters a month later. So what are the feelings hearing 2000 Watts at age 40 instead of age 20?
Tyrese opens up his sophomore release with the lead single “I Like Them Girls.” A playful springtime bop written by The Underdogs, Phillip “Silky” White, and J. Valentine. I do not recall too much about this song, but I found myself nodding my head and being caught up in the groove upon hearing it. It was the perfect lead single for the time and a great way to reintroduce Tyrese, who found so much success with ballads.
For the second single, Tyrese returned to ballads with “What Am I Gonna Do.” The song was a sentimental ballad that found Tyrese working with producers Jake & Trey, formerly of the band Joe Public. The final single from 2000 Watts was the up-tempo “Just a Baby Boy,” where the singer collaborated with Snoop Dogg and Mr. Tan.
After hearing the second track, “I Ain’t the One,” I was worried that Tyrese had the sophomore slump. However, listening to this song with an adult ear, I am not fond of the production that Rodney “Darkchild” Jenkins used. While the message about not being a simp for the Women is an answer to the “No Scrubs” and “Bills Bills Bills” of the time. Similarly, the mandatory rapper-assisted tracks “Off the Heezy” (featuring Jermaine Dupri) and “Get Up On It” (featuring Solé) are just downright bad. Neither has aged remarkably well and come off as an attempt to get money from the Hip Hop crowd.
Thankfully, Tyrese knows that with his vocal Prowse, his strength is ballads. He works with Jake & Trav on the particularly strong “Make up Your Mind,” “Housekeepin,” and the stepper’s inspired “Fling.” All three were single-worthy, and it is a crime that “Fling” was never a single. Nevertheless, I could see the song coming across great in concert.
Babyface provides the singer with the lovely ballad “There for Me (Baby)” while Tim & Bob bless Tyrese with “I’m Sorry.” Tyrese works with The Underdogs on the very nice “For Always” and “Bring You Back My Way.” Both songs have that signature Underdogs sound. The former features background vocals and pen assistance from the late Kenny Greene of Intro.
Quite honestly, his singing on the interludes are better than some folk’s entire catalog-making music today. My biggest complaint with the album is the up-tempo tracks. Had Tyrese omitted Off the Heezy, “I Ain’t the One,” and “Get Up On It,” he would have had a much more cohesive project. However, given the time, I understand why he recorded the tracks.
Before Tyrese was floating around in space as Roman Peace in the Fast & Furious franchise and being reckless on social media, he was a singer. Unfortunately, 2000 Watts does not have anything as substantial as “Lately” or “Sweet Lady” from his debut. However, this is a solid sophomore release that I should have given more attention to upon its initial release.
Initial Listen Grade (age 20): C
Relisten Grade (age 40): B+
Top Tracks: “What I Am Gonna Do,” “There for Me (Baby),” “Fling,” and “For Always”
2000 Watts is available on all streaming platforms