After striking out on their own from Jodeci, K-Ci & JoJo have had a fair share of singles and albums that reached – if not eclipsed – their timeless work as a quartet with DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin. The single “All My Life” crossed over into the mainstream with the help of Top 40 terrestrial radio play, and although a great deal of fans still clamor for that Jodeci magic orchestrated by the reclusive genius DeVante, the Hailey brothers have actually produced music since their departure from Jodeci. (The same can’t be said of DeVante, who has all but disappeared.) K-Ci & JoJo’s latest album, My Brother’s Keeper, treads familiar musical territory but still resonates aplenty.
The Haileys took an 11-year hiatus between albums, but there’s no rust shown on their latest collection. With production handled by newer and unknown producers, My Brother’s Keeper has a great balance of pure R&B, blues and a modern strain of the hip-hop/R&B blend that Jodeci pioneered. “Knock It Off” exemplifies the latter, whereas “Middle of the Night” is of the former variety. It’s definitely baby-making music for adults who initially procreated to Jodeci and now have young adults of their own to show for it.
The song that really sticks to the rib isn’t one about lust or even love for the fairer sex. The title track is powerful and authentic, executed in the signature epic fashion that the Haileys carried over from Jodeci to their own albums. Although R&B is often about womanizing, K-Ci & JoJo profess brotherly love for each other as they reflect on their trials and tribulations. JoJo brings up baby-mama drama, K-Ci apologizes to their parents and, really, both testify like they were back in that North Carolina church where they got their start.
The breezy “Say Hello to Goodbye” is yet another example of the particular vibe the brothers have cultivated since Love Always. The spiritual factor in healing after a break-up forms the basis of the song and it is just as moving as the title track. “Somebody Please,” meanwhile, is almost pure blues over light percussion. A hip-hop break beat opens “What Goes Around” before the brothers settle into a mid-tempo grown-and-sexy song that would have fans waving their raised arms side to side at shows.
My Brother’s Keeper is a concise but exceptional album from two genre-defining singers. While it isn’t as epic as their first two post-Jodeci albums, K-Ci & JoJo are too talented as vocalists to half-step. Fortunately, they leave the half-stepping to their live shows and produce an album chock full of tracks that will satisfy fans.
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