Music

Juice Soul and L.T. Terror’s “Let Me Have My Way”: A Critical Review

"Let Me Have My Way" Juice Soul

(Photo Courtesy of Juice Soul)

“Let Me Have My Way,” the second single from the forthcoming album Too Dark to Turn Back, features the ingenious collaboration of R&B and soul artist Juice Soul, rapper L.T. Terror and producer Chevalier Coleman. These gifted independent black male talents are among the best in the music industry. Without question, they will soon be household names. Last summer’s hottest song, “Tasteless,” their brainchild, put music fans in the mood for romance. With “Let Me Have My Way,” the hot, the sexy, the romance returns—just in time for summer love and lovemaking.

Trained in the Department of English and Modern Languages at the renowned Albany State University, Juice Soul masterfully wields compelling storytelling in his new single; this engrossing storytelling is a singular and characteristic element in his oeuvre. Mr. Soul’s euphonious, mellifluous vocals never disappoint, never auto-tuned, always delivering classic and disarming sounds that drive the ladies wild.

Drawing on the power of vivid, evocative storytelling, Juice takes his listeners on a journey, a love journey, one where sexual satisfaction is promised. We, the listeners, witness a cohesive and intriguing narrative, one apposite for an episode of a quality television drama.

A general proclivity in postmodernism, a historical and cultural phenomenon and the historical and cultural epoch in which we reside, as articulated by cultural critic and theorist Fredric Jameson and scholar Elizabeth Atkinson, is to welcome disorder and ambiguity. Resisting this postmodern impulse, Mr. Soul proffers a substantive story that’s logical and perspicuous and that resonates—he does not simply string some words together, as is, unfortunately, increasingly becoming the case for many popular singers and songwriters. Even some of his distinctive lyrical phrasing, where the vocal styling appears to blur or fade words intentionally for musicality purposes, still permits audiences to understand fundamentally what he attempts to convey.

The song anticipates feminist critique: both artists respectfully invite their desired women to share in an intimate experience with them. In Soul’s case, he wants it to last perpetually: “I never wanna let you go.” Sexual intercourse for him is communal, appropriately tasteful and delicate, never sacrificing, though, healthy masculine performance: “I’m going to give it to you so nice/Tell me how you feel about this?” The artist expresses a genuine interest in evaluative feedback—even during the sexual encounter, suggesting a true wish to please his woman. As artist, father, and professional, Juice Soul remains relentlessly authentic.

While L.T. Terror maintains this authenticity in the song, the rapper does it in a divergent way from Juice. The sagacious rapper, disabusing potential critics of arguments about the song being too idyllic, too mawkish (and it’s not), communicates frank intentions about his desires for the sexual experience, one ephemeral by design, yet vowed to delight. A central characteristic of postmodernism is an explicit embracing and engaging in textual fragmentation, that is, intentional textual discontinuities, and Terror’s lyrics, from a first reading, seem to represent radical textual fragmentation, especially when one juxtaposes them with Juice’s. Sex, however, does not have to be an enduring commitment; it can be a “one-time” experience, as Juice Soul intimates.

For L.T. Terror, this “one time” sexual interaction will include psychic stimulation: “My favorite position is in your mind.” Although the artist isn’t looking for a long-term physical commitment (and isn’t willing to give one), he hopes the woman will eternally remember their time together: “trying to find a home inside of your thighs.” Candid as possible, though, the rapper does not want good sex mistaken for love: “Might see love inside of my eyes/But that’s one big disguise/I’m such a horrible guy.” In other words, enjoy this magical moment, but don’t catch any abiding feelings.

Ironically, the divergences between Juice Soul’s lyrics and L.T. Terror’s form a totality, a unified whole, one reflecting real possibilities, diverse interactions and reactions, and nuanced notions of authenticity.

The track can be purchased on iTunes, and one can hear it on all digital streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal.

Let’s make this single go viral by sharing this piece and keeping the song in constant rotation on our favorite listening devices and music platforms.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Travis Greene’s and Chrisette Michele’s Trump Inauguration Decisions: Victims of Misplaced Anger

Travis Greene and Chrisette Michele Perform at 2017 Presidential Inauguration

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)

A decision to perform yesterday, January 20, 2017, at President Donald J. Trump’s Presidential Inauguration doesn’t constitute an endorsement. Although the thought of a Trump presidency is difficult for most on the Left to fathom, and unsettling for some on the Right, accepting an invitation to perform on Inauguration Day has never historically been viewed as a political act—certainly not an overt political act. Those who have had the distinct privilege to present their talent on this day do it not simply for the new president, but also the nation and world. Travis Greene, nominated in 2016 for a Grammy award for the gospel hit single “Intentional,” exhibited his great talent at one of Trump’s inaugural balls. He, lamentably, received crass attacks from many acrimonious black folks for his decision to sing at this event. Given that Greene prefaced his decision by expressing he seriously contemplated how Jesus would respond to this invitation, it’s reasonable to deduce that the artist isn’t a Trump supporter. For Greene, singing at the inaugural ball presents a prodigious opportunity to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Travis Greene, in a joint performance with Chrisette Michele, who was also viciously lambasted for her decision to sing at Trump’s inaugural event, ministered in song with high-energy and brilliance. Regrettably, for Chrisette Michele, Spike Lee upbraided her for choosing to perform at the event: he discontinued considering her music for his upcoming soundtrack to the Netflix television series adaptation of his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It. Michele revealed how “heartbroken” she is by the numerous harsh, disparaging responses to her decision.

Both Greene and Michele are young national recording artists. Situated in a postmodern, late capitalist society, both artists must constantly seek imaginative ways to market themselves and their music. What better way to market their music and increase their reach than at a presidential inauguration while the world is watching? If most—if not all—of their disingenuous critics would have been in their situations and had an opportunity for a global audience to witness their talent, they wouldn’t have experienced a moment of reticence; they would’ve seized the extraordinary moment, the remarkable opportunity. Greene and Michele did. They deserve laudatory remarks—not childish invective.

For those believing President Trump is an evil man with nefarious intentions for blacks and other minorities, Greene’s desire to inoculate the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the inaugural ball would seem to be a ray of hope in a dark place. The Gospel calls all of us to seek peace, justice, and love. Wouldn’t this inaugural event be a fine place to proffer a message of peace, justice, and love? A Christian truly following the example of Christ has no problem meeting with and performing for a president he or she disagrees with on many issues.

These unfounded, precarious, censoriously abusive attacks on Greene and Michele exemplify misplaced anger. If one has a problem with Trump, then let Trump truly be the focus of his or her scorn—not two young black national recording artists elated to have enough talent and acclaim to sing for the president, the nation, and the world. As Bernice King, the daughter of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., posited at the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service held at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, “We still have to find a way to create…the beloved community,” the beloved community her father passionately championed until his odious assassination. Adopting a policy, a strategy of estrangement toward Trump will prove immature and ineffective.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Juice Soul’s “Made Her A Woman”: A Relationship Counternarrative for the Fellas

While male artists, especially those in R&B and Hip-Hop, often receive charges of employing sexist, patriarchal, misogynistic and divisive imagery and language, Juice Soul, Jason Williams of Augusta, Georgia, offers a mature, balanced and compelling counternarrative to those charges. Too many songs across musical genres present an oversimplified ultimate reason why numerous intimate heterosexual relationships fail: it’s the man’s fault. Yes, admittedly, men, more often than not, create the core challenges and problems that plague relationships and inevitably lead to their undoing. In many cases, however, women contribute significantly to these relationship challenges and problems. “Made Her A Woman,” one of the hit tracks from Juice Soul’s 2005 100% Concentration album, boldly, yet respectfully, ventures into this frequently slanted, deficient in nuance discourse.

Juice Soul’s dexterous melding of urban contemporary R&B and neo-soul lends itself useful to illuminating his characteristic deftness in relating an enchanting story through song. The powerful art of storytelling represented in “Made Her A Woman”—and most of his works—facilitates heartfelt emotions expressed. Although the title, “Made Her A Woman,” might give the impression of a standard patriarchal song, the artist deploys an ironic title, to surprise, challenge, unsettle. Early in the song, Mr. Williams disabuses the listener of any thoughts about this work being laced with misogynist or patriarchal words or themes.

Juice Soul Jason Williams

(Photo Courtesy of Juice Soul)

The artist longs for his former love to appreciate the substantial contributions he made in her life that helped her to evolve into a mature and productive woman. Her unwillingness to give him the gratitude he deserves results in a vexing loneliness; a loneliness that engenders a primarily dejected mood. Pain, however, seems to motivate the artist to rise above the limitations of his extant inauspicious circumstances, communicating a slight sense of optimism about his future love life.

Williams’ oeuvre appears intimately grounded in realism. The type of raw emotion and zeal he delivers suggests mostly biographical content rather than purely fictional content, which could explain why his songs connect so strongly with fans.

“Made Her A Woman” taps into the universal human condition by engaging common feelings experienced: loss, loneliness, heartbreak and disenchantment. As an adroit and shrewd lyricist, Juice Soul always releases a sincere, candid piece. This track conveys an important message: heterosexual men’s relationship narratives possess great value, and when artists proffer those narratives without fear, we behold poignant, beautiful art—the type of art represented by his Summer 2016 song featuring rapper L.T. Terror, one of the best songs produced this decade, “Tasteless.”

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Tasteless” by Juice Soul Featuring L.T. Terror: The Hottest Track of Summer 2016

Tasteless Juice Soul

(Photo Credit: Juice Soul)

Rising star and independent singer and songwriter Juice Soul has released the summer’s hottest track, “Tasteless,” featuring rap artist L.T. Terror and produced by Chevalier. Corporate media often defines which song is the hottest of a particular season, with little input from consumers themselves. As an increasing number of people learn about “Tasteless,” they’re convinced it’s the best new song available this summer.

With this track, Juice Soul engenders a new movement, a movement centered on loving one another. In the extant political climate—where vile, xenophobic, racist and sexist discourse is exponentially increasing and sadly becoming normative—the native of Augusta, Georgia, Juice Soul, promulgates a national and global clarion call to “love somebody.” The song, therefore, offers a brilliant, masterful and powerful counternarrative to the dominant national narrative of discord advanced by political interlocutors on the Left and Right.

“Tasteless” has potential to burgeon an effective and robust national citizens’ counterinsurgency against elected officials and candidates with intentions to foment hate and violence. The song possesses immense revolutionary potential. If we collectively heed the core message of real and unwavering love it champions, then we will build relationships—instead of walls.

Receiving his undergraduate training in Literary Studies (English) at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia, Juice Soul understands how to deploy irony adroitly, thus his choice to create an ironic title. The track’s title critiques the current state of love across the globe; it’s instructive, informing us through negation how to treat one another.

When ones listens to “Tasteless,” he or she might experience nostalgia for R&B of the 1970s – 1990s—a period of time in which authentic and quality vocals were cornerstones of the genre and not auto-tune and other technologically manufactured effects. Although Juice Soul’s mellifluous sound has affinities with the classic singing of the aforementioned period, he’s still current, sporting vocals that bear influences of Jamie Foxx, Sam Cooke, and Donny Hathaway. Many people love to say, “Bring back real music.” Well, lament no more. Juice Soul is the answer.

On this track, Juice Soul is joined by a talented rapper, L.T. Terror, who will inevitably blaze the national scene and become a household name. L.T. Terror spits rhymes that perfectly complement Juice Soul’s vocals, yielding purposeful and exemplary art. Neither artist overshadows or upstages the other. Although both are remarkable talents, one should never overlook the amazingly gifted Chevalier, the producer behind this artistic gem, “Tasteless.”

Fellows, you will thank Juice Soul later for supplying you with a new track to add to your mood-setting repertoire. “Tasteless” will tastefully ready the atmosphere for love, for romance, for lovemaking. Numerous current R&B songs denigrate and objectify women. Displeased with this reality, Juice Soul desired to present men with a resource to help communicate how much they cherish the special ladies in their lives. The artist responded to the popular demand from women to craft music that resists using profanity toward them and that resists commodifying and reifying them. Ladies, this isn’t a song that views you as a female dog—it embraces your humanity, your equality, your longing for true love, your external and internal beauty.

Yes, most men are more balanced and complex than seeing women as being only worth what they can extend sexually. Guys, “Tasteless” captures this aforementioned sentiment. Ladies will find this song physically, emotionally, and mentally stimulating. This track is a refreshing departure from “Let Me Hit It.” You think?  As always, Juice Soul presents mature, thoughtful, sensual, sexy, smart, and compelling art.

Juice Soul is destined to become the next popular national recording artist. Listen to “Tasteless” on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Tidal, and all other digital platforms. Let your local record stations know you want to hear his new single played. Purchase it on iTunes.

Do you long to love somebody? Well, join the “Love Somebody Movement” and support its progenitor, Juice Soul.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jamie Foxx’s “In Love By Now”: Longing for Love

Jamie Foxx Hollywood Album

(Photo Credit: Hit The Floor)

When one thinks about Jamie Foxx, it’s difficult to resist acknowledging how tremendously humorous he is. An Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy Award winner, Foxx is much more than a talented comedian; he’s an accomplished actor, singer and musician. Although Mr. Foxx does not always receive the credit he deserves for his significant contributions to film, television, and R&B, soul, pop and hip-hop music, the value of his work is unquestionable. Yes, he’s known across the globe for hilarity-generating acts but the artist has demonstrated an ability to communicate his innermost feelings concerning love and relationships—with such heartfelt emotion, tenderness, and candor—not often witnessed in the art of black male vocalists on the national scene. One of Jamie’s most sentimental albums is 2015’s Hollywood: A Story of a Dozen Roses, his fifth album. “In Love By Now,” the album’s most successful single, encapsulates the album and artist’s revealing expressions about love and relationships.

On a 2015 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Mr. Foxx unveiled that the album concentrates on a past failed relationship he had with a woman in Hollywood, California where she left him at a vulnerable time in his life. Foxx had deep feelings for the woman but these emotions were not shared by her. She saw Jamie as a way to move up the economic, social and professional ladder. While many people believe that celebrities like him have any easy time finding authentic intimate relationships, the gifted professional divulges that the Hollywood environment engenders a culture that can make it challenging to experience true love. This past broken relationship has an immense affect on Foxx. It does, however, offer him an opportunity to provide his diverse audience with critical insights about responding to heartbreak, disappointments and emotional voids as he does through the album, especially in “In Love By Now.”

In “In Love By Now,” Mr. Foxx laments the numerous “broken vows” he has endured, which have resulted in love constantly escaping him. He powerfully depicts the influence these unfilled promises have had on his life: “Been drowning in the sea of broken vows.” Music fans normally hear countless female artists convey this type of emotional pain through their art. Jamie’s courage to be frank about his agony allows for other black male artists and males in general to discover the liberty to speak about their relationship hardships, disillusionments, and longings in ways American society typically does not give them a comfortable social space to articulate such sentiments. Such a troubling relationship history has led the artist to viewing experiencing genuine love in an intimate relationship as an elusive “dream.”

From the lyrics of “In Love By Now,” music fans can understand that Mr. Foxx has nostalgia for an ideal and romantic wedding, and he has expected it to happen “by now.” As the song closes, it ends with a modicum of hope. His turbulent relationship history has supplied him with valuable lessons about how to proceed in his future endeavors to achieve his “dream” of real love. Jamie now knows what not to accept and how to identify when a woman is not truly interested in him and not interested in building a lasting relationship. He says, “Eyes are finally open to a love I couldn’t see.”

This single has helped Hollywood: A Story of a Dozen Roses to debut at #10 on the Billboard 200 chart and peak at #93 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summer 2014 Will Be Remembered by Pharrell’s “Happy”

Pharrell Williams "Happy"

(Photo Credit: Digital Spy)

When we look back 20 years from now, we will define Summer 2014 by Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” “Happy” is the hit track from Williams’ second album, Girl (2014), and the Despicable Me 2 (2013) soundtrack.  The song calls each individual to love being who he or she really is.  It’s becoming increasingly more lucid where we are right now in the postmodern epoch is a time when too many individuals suffer from psychic fragmentation.  Too many people have become so focused on being what others want them to be that they don’t even know who they really are any longer—it’s possible they never even gave themselves a chance to learn who they really are. With the release of “Happy,” Williams offers a valuable counter-narrative to the dominant American narrative that says who you really are isn’t good enough, and to be good enough you need to be someone you aren’t.

The challenge to the status quo “Happy” presents begins with the song’s ingenious author, Pharrell Williams.  Although we’re living in a time when people highly embrace flashy phenomena they hope will make them standout, Williams finds peace in simple elegance.  He knows how to make simple clothing, clothing that’s not flashy, refreshingly elegant.  When we see Mr. Williams, we’re witnessing a human being who has been liberated from the postmodern impulse to be someone he’s not.  “Happy” has given us an opportunity to experience the true substance that composes Pharrell.  Through his amazingly successful song, music fans are provided with a powerful alternative to the prevalent fear countless individuals have about loving who they truly are.

“Happy” has been #1 on the Billboard Top 100 and #1 on music charts in 19 countries.  Even with this song’s great success and wide popularity, it does not seem to have had any meaningful impact on changing America’s fascination with the superficial over the substantial.  One of the primary reasons for this could be how distracted we can get with hot beats that make us dance.  Unfortunately, we too often don’t want to reflect on why these beats make us want to dance in the first place. If we would engage more closely with the positive messages of “Happy,” it’s possible for us to move closer to understanding the value of diversity, and we might even start cherishing diversity.  This will require us to move past the hot beats and the dancing those beats promote and develop into a more reflective people.  Critical reflection enable us to see how Pharrell’s song can be employed as a vehicle to engender a massive wave of camaraderie and harmony among sundry people across the nation and globe who are presently divided.

For the real power of the song to be unleashed, it will take intellectuals, scholars, activists, community leaders, religious leaders, politicians, teachers, and many others to muster the courage to host nationwide forums, lectures, debates, and etc. where substantive discourse can take place about the song and how its messages can be used to instigate change in America and across the world.

Music has the ability to transform lives, to transform nations.

Even though Williams’ song may not produce the type of critical discourse across the nation and globe it merits, the song’s staying power will give us an opportunity to heed its vital messages even 20 years from now.  When we take a moment to envision a nation and world that mirrors the one offered by the music video for “Happy,” we begin to acknowledge how priceless the song is.  The song helps us to realize that our differences should unite us instead of divide us.  “Happy” seems to suggest that our differences shouldn’t cause us to lose sight of our universal longing for happiness.

History will inevitably mark Summer 2014 as a watershed moment in world history when “Happy” caused people to think seriously about the importance of simply being themselves.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison