Jerzee Monet

Jerzee Monet

Love & War

Dreamworks

There’s something wrong with Jerzee Monet… and I like it. Although she’s certainly beautiful to be a pre-fab pop idol like Ashanti and Monica, she wants to be deeper than that, and she’s developed a great vehicle for that: her vocals are multi-tracked over and under and all over herself, and are sometimes distracting in the most interesting way. (Some of her whispered asides and comments on her own songs remind me of Ken Nordine’s “Word Jazz” stuff — I wonder if she’s ever heard of that stuff.) She argues with herself, supports herself, laughs at herself, laughs at no-good men; at times, it’s like living in the head of someone with multiple personalities. You know: like all of us.

At the same time, she’s more interested in chart success than wonderfully quirky headcases like (the great) Erykah Badu and (the overrated) Lauryn Hill, so she makes sure that main collaborator Tyrice Jones and her other producers like Jerry Stokes and Blaze Billions give her radio-friendly beats and instrumentation we’ve heard before. “Work It Out” has all the warm acoustics of a Babyface song and some easy-listening robot funk underneath it, and “Stop My Flow” stretches for Missy/Timbaland territory without quite hitting it. I wouldn’t say that Monet is anywhere near the lyricist that Badu or Hill or Jill Scott are, but her stuff is more interesting than most other people’s stuff, and compliments her four or five different voices quite well.

Like every other album released in 2002, there’s a cameo from Ja Rule which kinda sucks (“Twisted:); like the rest of albums released in 2002, Eve pops up to spit some hot lyrics (the Spanish-flavored “Yeah,” on which Eve kicks it nicely with “I ain’t sayin’ I’m perfect / But ain’t too many flaws, dawg“). And DMX, who discovered her back when she was Tanisha Monet Carey, barks his usual bark on another version of “Most High” to close the 43-minute album out. But these cameos just kind of muddy the issue: Jerzee Monet is not your usual pop artist, and her debut is not your typical first album.

Screw all that: it’s gonna sound great in your car.

Jerzee Monet: http://www.jerzeemonet.com

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