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Second Listen Sunday: Oran "Juice Jones", Juice

As I continue to enjoy my first trip to the Essence Festival for this week's Second Listen Sunday, I decided to show some love to Oran "Juice" Jones and his debut album, Juice. Hitting stores on February 12th, 1986, Juice was the first R&B album for the legendary label Def Jam. The previous November saw the label come out of the gate with Radio from LL COOL J, who would become their flagship artist.

For the first single, "The Rain," Jones enlisted the pen game of Vincent Bell, who co-produced the track with Russell Simmons. "The Rain" is a song about a man confronting his girlfriend about cheating on him. The first verse sets the scene as the man watches his girlfriend leave the house in the rain, presumably to meet another man. In the chorus, he expresses his frustration with the situation, saying he will get revenge.

The second verse reveals that the man hired a private investigator to follow his girlfriend and gather evidence of her infidelity. He then confronts her and lists all the details he knows about her extramarital affair. The song's bridge is particularly memorable, as the man taunts his girlfriend by pretending to cry and saying he never expected her to cheat him. He then reveals that he has been unfaithful, and their relationship is over.

Overall, "The Rain," tells a story of romantic betrayal and revenge. The lyrics are filled with vivid imagery and raw emotion, making it a classic R&B song. However, R&B fans know that Jones's album came out at a time when every artist brought their A-game to projects. So Unfortunately, Jones' subsequent singles didn't have much impact on the charts. It's a pity because there are some great tracks on the album.

"Curiosity," "It's Yours," and "1.2.1" are all bops that eighties fans can appreciate. Kurtis Blow was one of the producers of "It's Yours," so it's puzzling that he didn't add a Hot 16 to the song. However, the ballads on this album are truly a delight. Juice's voice brings them to life and makes them soar. From the smooth sounds of "You Can't Hide From Love" to the romantic melody of "Your Song," every track is perfectly crafted. There's even a cover of the Smokey Robinson classic tune, "Here We Go Again," which Juice sings easily and confidently. For its first R&B release, Def Jam ensured that each song was babied and crafted with care.

Jones would release one more album with the label before departing in 1989. Other male R&B artists joined Def Jam after Jones depature, but none of them were successful until Montell Jordan was signed in 1994. While Jones never matched the success of his debut single, he did cement his place in eighties R&B.

Final Grade: B

Juice is available on all streaming platforms.

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