I didn’t even know I was missing ‘80s and ‘90s R&B until I popped in This Ain't R&B Vol. 1 by Gary King. King’s music made me go through old tapes of Montell Jordan, BlackStreet, Bell Biv Devoe and Boyz II Men and made me remember what I've been missing. This Ain't R&B Vol. 1 has a lot of the staples the made the genre such a mainstream hit 20-25 years ago. King first of all made sure the production was tight from top to bottom. The mixes are great and filled with rich instrumentation like warm keys, bass, drums and horns. Those horns are on point. They have that blaring late ‘80s flavor that further solidifies King’s appreciation of that genre.
The music and production is solid throughout but this album ultimately relies on vocal melodies to carry the songs. Luckily for you King has a soulful rich voice that is at times sensual, always confident and unapologetically masculine. It’s the kind of voice that you could say will make the ladies swoon.
King opens up with a hit called “Possibility.” The low end is thick as a sparse piano and orchestral strings are played and handclaps are implemented. The hook is immediately there when he sings. “Somethinz Got Me Thinkin Maybe” is a funky tune with a bass sound that is straight from 1992. It’s upbeat, infectious and perfect for playing when you got a little buzz on and want to get down on the dance floor. If there isn't a choreographed dance to the song I think there should be.
On “Heart Couldn't Ask 4 More” King mixes up his vocal style during the verse and chorus. During the verse he is on the verge of rapping but still in an R&B way but when he gets to the chorus he belts out the hook. King is clearly a heartthrob as he sings, “we can take our time if we want to we don’t have to go fast if you want to and were patient we can make love last and if you open up the door my heart couldn’t ask for more.” Perhaps the best song was “Break Of Dawn.” I just loved the overall slick vibe and that bass line. Definitely a cool jam that you wouldn’t mind hearing at a hip lounge.
Overall, if you grew up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and were into even a little mainstream R&B you will appreciate this album. King delivers the goods with this album.
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