One of the prominent voices of nineties R&B Donell Jones returns with a new Valentine's Day project entitled 100% Free. Jones hasn't released any new material since 2013's Forever, so the seven-song EP 100% Free was very much welcome. Jones opens the project with "Fresh", where he experiments with a bit of Trap RnB. Now there's nothing wrong with a singer trying to appeal to a younger crowd or follow trends. Charlie Wilson reinvented himself with ease and has fans of all ages. Sadly Donell misses the mark with the first song, and I thought this would be the EP's vibe.
Thankfully Jones goes back to his signature sound with the EP's second song, "Karma (Payback)." The song production is lush and opens with a sound in the vein of seventies soul. Jones sings about the effects of what happens when you do dirt in a relationship. Things get sexy on "Deep N2u," which eludes the vibe of Jones's previous slow jams such as "Natural Thang," "Can't Wait," and "All about the Sex."
"Serious" is a mid-tempo number that's perfect for riding to or having a Netflix and chill night. I liked the production on the song and its transitions into "I Do." Now I get the lane that Jones is going for with "I Do," however, the song has the same issues as "Fresh." The EDM vibes don't do justice to Jones's voice, and the track may have been better suited for a younger singer, while Jones enjoys the residuals from the streaming.
100% Free is another track that Jones could've sold off. This particular song has a Reggae vibe. It's not as bad as "I Do" as Jones never tries to imitate popular reggae; instead, he brings his brand of Chicago soul to the song, and it mildly works. The project closes out with "Meditate," which clocks in at eight minutes. I've never had a problem with a long track, heck. One of the best songs of all time, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," is over fourteen minutes unedited. The groove of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" lasts for a good three minutes before Dennis Edwards sings that haunting open line. Sadly "Mediate" is nothing but instrumental and serves no purpose on the project.
Throughout his nearly three-decade career, Donell Jones has provided classic songs from his solo work and writing for artists such as Usher, Madonna, and 702. There are some decent songs on this EP, but 100% Free is one of the worst in Jones's catalog.
Top Songs: "Karma (Payback)," "Deep N2u," and "Serious."
Final Grade C-
100% Free is available on all streaming platforms.