Its been over ten years since K-Ci & JoJos last album, and this time the platinum-selling brothers (as both a duo and as members of 90s R&B quartet Jodeci) have decided to take a different approach: Theyve made the worlds first R&B comedy album. And let it be known, My Brothers Keeper is hilarious.
Comedy music albums have been done beforesimply look at Weird Al Yankovichs entire body of workand urban artists have gotten in on the fun from time to time. (The Bad Boy camp was notorious, heh, for doing this; Biggies Playa Hater and Ma$es Jealous Guy come to mind.) While R. Kelly has come close with the so-called hip-hopera Trapped in the Closet, My Brothers Keeper is probably the first time that an artist has fully committed to crafting a full-length R&B parody album. From its beyond cliché album title (K-Ci and JoJo are brothers! Get it?) to the amusingly awful lyrics and vocal performances, the results here are astounding.
Lead single Knock It Off uses every trope in the book to craft a spoof of the contemporary R&B club jamscrewed vocal hook, keyboard handclap samples, and Autotuned background vocals. Its funny and formulaic, and indicative of the kind of self-aware humor sprinkled throughout the album. On Middle of the Night, a wife rudely disturbs her spouses slumber for annoying asinine banterShe said, Baby, baby, are you sleep?/I said, Baby, yes I was, but Im up now. When its finally revealed that wifey wants to engage in some wee hour coitus, hubby obliges because the kids are asleep. You can scream, he tells her. I know I screamedin laughter, that is.
Further shenanigans ensue on the title track, where K-Ci apparently has to remind JoJo they are siblings before launching into an overwrought performance that cribs liberally from New Jack City. My Brothers Keeper lampoons those earnest, heartfelt odes to loved ones that have become de rigueur for contemporary R&B albums otherwise filled with fuck-me anthems and hymns to materialism.
Later on, we have What Goes Around, which comes across as a poor mans imitation of Forever My Lady-era Jodeci. Its good to see the brothers arent afraid to laugh at themselves. And only these two would take the name of the U.S. militarys former policy on homosexuality (Dont Ask, Dont Tell) and use it as the basis for a song about infidelity. I swear, its like the staffers of Saturday Night Live co-wrote these songs!
Another thing K-Ci and JoJo poke fun at is the trend of older artists trying to remain relevant by pandering to current audiences. The brothers have put out classic tunes, sure, but even they know that times change and a new guard has been established. Yet instead of singing Keepers purposefully terrible songs with verve and aplomb, they go the opposite route and deliver the worst vocal performances they can muster. K-Ci turns down his gravelly tenors natural charm, and JoJo often comes across as shaky and lost. (The exception to this is their cover of The Vanguards Somebody Please, which makes one think of K-Cis heartbreakingly good 1994 cover of Bobby Womacks If You Think Youre Lonely Now.) Its a clever statement on how out-of-touch some older artists are in this era of strip-pole anthems and emo pop masquerading as soul.
After a ten-year absence, K-Ci and JoJo could have come out with a lame collection of halfhearted do-me tunes and flaccid ballads. Instead, they chose to buck the trend, mock conventions, and put out what has got to be one of the years best and funniest R&B releases. Props to them for not being afraid to take the genre into uncharted territory, and for giving us all a hearty chuckle. My Brothers Keeper is indeed a keeper.
What was that? Oh, this isnt a parody album? They were serious? Oh, jeeze. Well, were giving this a D+, then.
Knock It Off