Genre: Neo Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop
Location: Willingboro, NJ
For fans of: Mali Music, Frank Ocean, Bilal
New Jersey based soul singer, MJM has released the first of what looks to be a series of musical compilations titled, MJM Parable (Part 1). MJM mixes a hypnotic cocktail of sultry beats, poetry, and soulful vocals that are sure to connect with the fans of Neo-soul and R&B music. MJM is on the right track with this new release, which is a mashup of Mali Music, Frank Ocean, and Bilal; three artists who have seen great success in the R&B genre. Because this is a genre I grew up on and built my 22 year music career in, I am going to give an in-depth analysis of what the MJM Parable Part 1 has to offer and where the artist should focus his efforts on Part 2 of this series of releases.
LYRICALLY: Songwriting is a major key in the Neo-soul sect of R&B music because it is the crux of the artist’s identity and connection with fans once you get past the slick beats. My time in Philly (the home of Neo-Soul) working under BoyzIIMen taught me this. MJM does a good job of staying committed to the subject matter that has kept R&B alive throughout its past decade of struggling to remain relevant. My favorite song, lyrically, is “Hold You Down” because, the song touches on the importance of the lives of young black men. However, I wasn’t blown away by much of the writing on the project because, at times MJM’s songs get a bit too cluttered with words. His strength is melody writing, but even that gets a bit monotonous due to the overuse of the same melodic structure, which shows that there’s still more development needed. I’d recommend MJM continue to write meaningful lyrics that aren’t so word heavy, and use more variety in the melodies so the songs don’t start to sound the same.
MUSICALLY: This is where MJM Parable Part 1 really shines. The beatmakers on this release did a great job of providing a music bed that allows MJM to build a sound that is both relevant and dope. Every track infuses Neo-soul keyboards and melodies with trap drum beats, a sound that T-Pain made popular almost a decade ago. I don’t have much to say about the music other than, “this jawn goes hard!”
VOCALLY: This is where MJM reminds me of Bilal mixed with Frank Ocean. I can appreciate MJM’s willingness to stay away from AutoTune and showcase his raw vocal talents; he gets an A+ for that. But again, it is the wordiness that forces the tempo of his vocal delivery, which throws him off pitch at times (like Frank Ocean). This is typical of young singers coming up in a day where choppy melodies are the style — thanks to rappers trying to sing and singers trying to rap. I like the rasp in his voice (like Bilal), but MJM seems to run out of breath (due to wordiness) which causes his raspy tone to be a bit screechy in certain spots. In the end, MJM is a good singer who needs an actual producer (not a beatmaker) who understands vocal production and songwriting to help get the best out of his vocal performances. If he does this, I can almost guarantee MJM is on his way to a successful singing career.
Check out my favorite song by MJM, “Hold You Down”. ⬇️