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Jamie Foxx - Unpredictable

Jamie Foxx, Unpredictable LP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JAMIE Foxx announces at the start of his album, Unpredictable, that he knows ladies are tired of the same old thing. That the bedroom has gone cold and it’s time to heat things up.

The ensuing collection of hip-hop tinged smooth groove R’n’B tunes certainly fulfils that promise, emerging as one long ode to love – sometimes explicit, occasionally romantic but dripping with the style and sophistication that cinema audiences have come to expect from the Oscar-winning star of Ray.

Given Foxx’s tough upbringing, it would have been easy for the actor-turned-singer to simply churn out a long-player that’s as hard-hitting and generic as countless hard-luck hip-hop albums.

But Foxx is much more content to celebrate the finer things in life – most notably, women. And he describes his album as “the fulfilment of a lifelong dream”.

In so doing, he has enlisted a veritable who’s who of contemporary music luminaries, from man-of-the-moment Kanye West to Snoop Dogg, The Game and Mary J Blige.

The album works best for fans of the smooth groove R’n’B style, given its over-reliance on slick beats and sexy melodies. But it frequently extends its reach to appeal to a far wider demographic, particularly as Foxx’s charisma shines through.

Make no mistake, this is not the sound of an actor trying to be something different – rather a performer realising a long-held ambition.

Foxx is a one-time music student at San Diego’s United States International University and has always regarded himself as a singer and musician first, and actor second.

Hence, the likes of title track and album opener, Unpredicable are dripping in quality – from the silky smooth vocal style, to the lush production values, right down to the guest appearance from Ludacris. It’s also a satisfying party-starter, hinting at a classic Motown style courtesy of some funky old-school guitar riffs.

Other highlights include the hopelessly smooth Extravaganza, featuring Kanye West, in which a repentent singer attempts to come clean from a one-night infidelity.

And the sharp, snappy With You, featuring Snoop Dogg and The Game. It finds the album at its most explicit (with lyrics such as ‘but she never been fucked on a beach’ and ‘who’s pussy is this’) but is constructed around a nicely stripped down beat and some whistles.

Love Changes, his duet with Mary J Blige, offers a nice vocal trade-off between two contrasting styles – one fiercely passionate, the other intensely smooth.

While Common lends a fleeting touch of class to U Still Got It, an interlude late on in the album.

But Unpredictable isn’t merely held up on the strength of its collaborators – Foxx is equally at home doing things solo.

Warm Bed is a tremendously sexy performer, guaranteed to heat up the bedroom as Foxx intends, while VIP is a good party anthem constructed around some feel-good beats and a welcoming vibe.

If there is a criticism, it’s that Unpredictable doesn’t differ in musical styles as much as its name suggests, remaining rooted in R’n’B territory.

But it does what it sets out to in considerable style, providing Foxx with a labour of love he can genuinely be proud of, as well as proving that he is just as capable of hanging in the big time as the contemporaries he has chosen to support him.

Track listing:

  1. Unpredictable feat Ludacris
  2. Warm Bed
  3. DJ Play A Love Song feat Twista
  4. With You feat The Game & Snoop Dogg
  5. Can I Take You Home
  6. Love Changes feat Mary J Blige
  7. Extravaganza feat Kayne West
  8. Three Letter Word
  9. Get This Money
  10. VIP
  11. Do What It Do
  12. Storm
  13. U Still Got It feat Common
  14. Heaven
  15. Wish You Were here
  16. Bonus Track