Album review: Jennifer Hudson - I remember me

Jennifer Hudson's success story has secured her a place in the entertainment business to the point where her albums are almost irrelevant in terms of holding down a recording contract. But even so it pays to lay down some musical groundwork to help pave the way for a long term music career. And whilst Jennifer's debut saw her and her superiors messily trying to lock the J-Hud sound down; I remember me marks a release from an artist with a team around her who have finally nailed the formula. Jennifer now has a strong starting point, enabling her to have a clear focus on the kind of music she should be doing - with the freedom to take this wherever she pleases.

I remember me doesn't have a great deal of obvious single choices. But Jennifer certainly has one in "Gone", an acoustic guitar laden pop jam about an irreplaceable love. Polow Da Don shows great diversity here. Although ever since the "Love in the club" scam, I've been weary of how much of the production is actually Polow's musical offerings from scratch and how much of it is just stocked sounds in Garageband. Stargate produced "I got this" could not be any further of a departure from "Spotlight" if they shot Jennifer's now skinny ass out of a NASA powered cannon, with a trajectory targeted at the moon. "I got this" is a gospel tinged number which swings viscerally from quiet verses to a rousing synth driven chorus which has Jennifer re-affirming to her naysayers that she's on top of every situation life can throw at her. Not the most obvious choice for a single if it ever were to be one, but it has radio appeal and the Stargate seal of featuring a bloody catchy hook which lodges itself within your head on a first listen.

Good ol' throwback soul and R&B resides in this album, and listeners needn't look far into the album for it, as they're hit with it on the very first song. Rich Harrison has been laying pretty low over the past year. So it's great to hear him do his thing again for the album opener "No one gonna love you". This is unlike anything he's done before, but adhere's to the Richcraft formula of sounding like some good old soulful goodness which knocks hard through the speakers.

Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz showed they were a musical force to be reckoned with on Whitney's "Million dollar bill" and they do the damn thing again with Jennifer and do it better. Not only do they give her more timeless sounding cuts, but then there's than voice of Jennifer's - which unlike Whitney's, is untainted from crack and guzzling Bobby Brown's penis for the best part of a decade. Swizz Beatz's urgent military march of "Angel" gives the song a great sense of pace, which contradicts yet compliments the laid back piano playing of Keys; both of which are tethered together by Jennifer's vocals. "Angel" is very much a reward for those who still listen to albums in their entirety from start to finish, as track skippers would more than likely overlook this song. "Everybody needs love" is a throwback smash! Granted. It's a copy of "Million dollar bill". But I'll be damned if this isn't a hot ditty of a jam. Everything branches off and diverges once Jennifer begins to really start pushing the vocals towards the end, and she pretty much ghetto stomps all over Whitney's wig when she belts that final note. (Bye Whitney). Alicia ditches her hubby for Saleem Rami for her third offering "Don't look down" - which is probably in reference to her relationship with Swizz Beatz. Because home girl knows if she looks down she'll see Mashonda down on her knees breaking the f**k down. 10 seconds into this song and I'd already resided with Jennifer having something special on her hands. The song plays along with an instant air of familiarity; sounding like something The O' Jays or Shalamar cut back in the day. The current generation of music lovers who know about good music will appreciate this song. And the old timers born when these types of songs were running rampant on charts and on American bandstand will fall for this song as it takes them on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Two of the albums most poignant mid-tempo's come in the form of lead single "Where you at" and album titled track "I remember me". "Where you at" doesn't have much going on for it on a first listen. But it is definitely a grower. I find myself liking the song more and more with each listen. I still feel that J records picked the wrong song to act as a lead single. But what's done is done. R. Kelly is watersport loving paedo, but he knows how to write a good song. And lyrically he hooked Jennifer up nicely. Ryan Tedder seems to be taking those comments about his production sound stale and samey to heart, because the OneRepublic front man has been switching his production up nicely as of late. When I saw his name attached to the albums' title track "I remember me", I was half expecting the instrumental from the Beyondroid's "Halo" to kick in, with a beat-switch in Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield". But I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard when I pressed play. I was skeptical of this song and was about to skip it...until the chorus came in. And from the first run of the chorus in, the song just hits the ground running. Great song. If J records were going to go with a mid-tempo number for a single, they should have picked this. If this song does happen to get a single release and becomes popular, expect to hear recycles of it on radio over the next 6 months.

Harvey Mason Jr. gives Jennifer a big diva ballad to get arena's swaying from side to side with "Still here". The brilliance of this song is in Jennifer's vocals. You keep expecting her to belt and throw vocal gymnastics on a bitch as the song progresses, but it never comes. And it gives both the song and her vocals a wonderful understated sense of brilliance, because Jennifer gives just enough so that you can clearly hear she has an amazing voice on her, but keeps herself in check as not to overpower the song and detract from it. After all, she has nothing to prove. The world knows she can belt with the best of them. Fans of Jennifer in Dreamgirls will love "Believe" which sounds very much like a song taken from the Dreamgirls soundtrack, which Harvey Mason Jr. also produced. The gospel laden ballad acts as a nice closer to the album and gives Jennifer a second ballad to get stadium goers swaying to. "Believe" is not as good as "Still here". But it's the kind of song this album would have been lacking without. As Jennifer needs to have at least one of these songs on her album.

On the whole the album is pretty boring, and you're not left with much of a lasting impression. Then again, it's very much what you'd expect from Jennifer Hudson. You're never going to get that album from her where she's singing about wanting a man to eat out of her vagina, drills her from behind in public or give a pussy popping anthem for the girls of today. And if you're down with Jennifer and know the deal, then you will like this album more than most. Jennifer will not win over those who were not taking notice of her before, but fans of hers will like this album and appreciate the integrity of it.

I remember me trumps Jennifer's debut by being a much more focused album. There is a greater consistency with this release which see's Jennifer's feet placed firmly on the ground as to where she wants to stand musically. So this album acts as a great point of reference for her next album more than anything else.

Album highlights:
■ No one gonna love you
■ I got this
■ I remember me J's fave
■ Gone
■ Everybody needs love
■ Don't look down
■ Still here


  1. You pretty much raved about the entire album and then there's this line:

    On the whole the album is pretty boring, and you're not left with much of a lasting impression.

    It was kind of jarring after reading nothing but praise on almost every track, lol. But I get what you're saying. Was expecting a higher score though, at least a 7.

    Anywho, I haven't heard the album yet but it's nice to know you think it's better than her debut (which, after repeat listens, wasn't as good as I initially though). I was kind of wary after "Where you at" did absolutely nothing for me, although it did grow on me. I love "I got this".

    I'll be getting this, though. I like Jennifer and it sounds like she's in a good place after the tragedy.

  2. The songs on this album are all really good. There isn't a flat out bad song on it. But the thing is, that whilst you enjoy the album as you're listening to it; once it ends, it ends. You don't really feel the desire to skip back to any tracks, or play it all over again. And you even wonder what songs you liked. And THIS is what it boiled down to for me.

  3. I got 'cha. I can kind of get that vibe while listening to it right now, but I have to say I've really liked every song so far. I just finished "I remember me" and that was a great song.

    Wow, Jennifer damn near crossed over to country with "Gone", lol. It would make a great single.

    *keeps listening*


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