It took me a few bars into Jodeci’s first album in 20 years to realize it wasn’t the Empire soundtrack. Then it struck me: Jodeci isn’t copying anything from the Lyon family discography. Modern R&B owes just about everything to K-Ci, JoJo, DeVante, and Mr. Dalvin. Jodeci hasn’t released a record since 1995, and though K-Ci & JoJo have been putting out albums on and off since then (the last being My Brother’s Keeper in 2013), the landscape hasn’t seen Jodeci’s like in quite some time.
Jodeci is the opposite of a box of chocolates; you always know what you’re gonna get. The Past, the Present, the Future won’t surprise their longtime fans. The album is full of sex jams, but only some of them are guaranteed to help your game. Timbaland co-produced two tracks with DeVante Swing, but his presence doesn’t jump out like it does on a Missy Elliot or Justin Timberlake album.
The opening track, “Too Hot”, lives up to its title, a party banger that’s sure to make the rounds on dance floors all summer. B.o.B. joins the fold for “Nobody Wins” and lends a Southern charm to the lead single for a welcome change-up in the center of the album.
Unfortunately, Jodeci manages to talk you back into your clothes as the album winds down. The positively unromantic “Body Parts” and “Stress Reliever” get a little too literal to be smooth. It’s a rookie mistake that’s disappointing coming from what are now the Bad Men of R&B. Boys can be forgiven for mistakes that men should be old enough to avoid.
The Past, the Present, the Future fits right in with the previous three Jodeci albums, and will certainly be responsible for at least some members of the next generation of R&B babies. But it’s also front-heavy, and ham-fisted in spots. The first half will get you some. And, really, isn’t that all we ask from Jodeci?
Essential Tracks: “Too Hot” , “Nobody Wins”, and “Jennifer”