Jazmine Sullivan: ‘Reality Show’ Track-by-Track Album Review

RCA Records
RCA Records

Reality Show is the best we’ve heard from the soulfully underrated vocalist in her seven-year career. Compelling stories told through Jazmine Sullivan’s vivid interpretation, through her groundbreaking voice is like hearing a story read by Morgan Freeman, making her the modern day Lauryn Hill. Rich in character, high in detail, and moving in its story, this album is an incredible listen from start to finish.

The previous album, Love Me Back, is commercially disappointing because of bad single choices by her team, as a whole. Now on her third album, Reality Show, it is contemporary R&B at its finest with excellent use of hip-hop soul elements to grab the young generation’s attention. For example, check out the amazing hip-hop soul single “Mascara,” which is currently climbing the charts; slow and steady wins the race.

In the beginning, Jazmine sings hood fable “Dumb” with Meek Mill, together creating a “You’re All I Need,” hip-hop soul classic, which deserves more love from radio. The 808 production is sure to ignite even more fire with the gritty vocal delivery. It is a prevailing urban contemporary R&B record.

The next track,Mascara,” continues the momentum into brave urban commentary. Her voice is outstanding here, even serving catchy nuances like, “I gotta stay on” and ” So I never leave the house without makeup on.” It will very well be her most successful single since 2008’s “Need You Bad.”

The jazz intro on “Brand New” is exceptional, which leads to greatness once the hook hits home. It is a profound brash, insightful look at what happens when someone with new money becomes brand new, in some instances. Here is a hard-edged song that is for all of those who held someone down in the midst of his or her come-up. In the end, Jazmine comes to the conclusion, “This ain’t fair/ who was there / who was loving you?” Cohesively, this is one of her most fantastic records to date.

As time progresses on “Silver Lining,” it wins the heart and has no shame about it. Jazmine sings about looking for her silver lining to happiness: “So If I’m looking up / Don’t mind me / But it can’t be / I just can’t / be down no more.” One of the most uplifting songs will cause a teary eye near song’s end. It’s another record, which uses elements of hip-hop soul, reminiscent of Talib Kweli’s 2002 classic, “Get By.”

The album’s most hidden moment comes hood-certified with “#HoodLove,” which is significant for its modern 808 production with Mahalia Jackson, like vocal delivery of epic proportions. A chant this right needs to be released as a single somewhere down the line. It is another album track that is not close to filler material, but ready for release, as a future single, possibly.

Let the candles burn to set the mood for a throwback to 90’s R&B record with “Let It Burn.” The love in the vocals is a cause for a baby-making session with that special loved one. During this song is where the album hits a fever pitch of great R&B music. Without a guarantee, this song will be replayed for an ultimate experience.

Sullivan sings with a sexy vulnerability on “Veins.” Here there’s an addiction for a touch of a certain love that has Jazmine “losing her mind.” Production-wise, it is an exceptional piece of work, completing the vocal delivery with ease. Never has Jazmine recorded a seductive song that will even rival Beyoncé’s “Partition.”

As the guitar strings play to the heartache on “Forever Don’t Last,” this song shines above the rest. Ballads are what is missing from the R&B game, and records like this one should be cherished and not taken for granted. Listen closely to this gripping ballad, and all the musical vocal ad-libs become nostalgic of a young Stevie Wonder.

Amy Winehouse‘s soul is present in “Stupid Girl.” Jazmine Sullivan gives a poignant tribute to the great gone to early talent. Vocals from the opening notes will immediately become an addiction for its surprising, retro allude to the sounds of the big band era.

Prince will love “Stanley,” because it would fit right in on the Purple Rain soundtrack. The tone of the singer proves to be great in her subtle, yet confident vocal delivery. Near the end is where the magic happens, “I dont know why / I waste my time / When you dont care/ How hard / I try to make you smile.”

The last two tracks, “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” and “If You Dare,” close the album in the best way imaginable, securing Grammy nominations for 2016, without a doubt. “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” is her best tribute to 80’s music and the legendary Anita Baker. Her vocal presentation is inspiring in this beautiful anthem, which is the album’s best. This song is the type of anthem that closes the concert with the crowds’ full attention, leaving their hearts on the floor. “If You Dare” challenges one to dream big; It’s the most fun and uplifting track on the album. The encouraging vocals will have anyone ready to fly to achieve each and every dream possible. It looks like Jazmine Sullivan saved her most innovative, creative records for last.

Reality Show ends the show with anticipation for the next album’s story arc. Fascinating tales from her perspective is another significant talent of the vocalist. Jazmine Sullivan took risks and paid homage to all of the music greats like Prince, Anita Baker, Amy Winehouse, Michael McDonald, and Stevie Wonder. She’s an example of a real R&B artist with remarkable storytelling capabilities. Her best work is here, and it is a masterpiece.

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