Jussie Smollett vs. Jamal Lyon: “Sum of My Music” Album Review

Jussie Smollet featured in cover art for debut album “Sum of My Music”

The ingenuous Jussie Smollett, who portrays Jamal Lyons, a leading role from the efficacious, musically based show Empire, has briefly stepped off the Lyon throne to release his album entitled Sum Of My Music, independently under his label “Music Of Sound.” With accolades, such as an actor, director, singer and activist, the Empire star, showcased to the world on March 2, 2018, his other accolades as a songwriter and executive producer with his new music project. Not only has he released his own body of pop, R&B, and hip-hop melodic tunes, he has done so as an independent artist.

Jussie sets the tone of the album with his first track “Insecurities,” that vividly tells everyone to F your insecurities, and not to allow society to depict who you are, and what you can do. He even talks about his insecurities in the song saying “He so inspiring to me. He ain’t sh*t from what I see. Oh his voice so heavenly. That nigga sound like a crying lamb. Will his blackness scare white folks away? Will they all turn when they hear he’s gay? Is my success just one big mistake? Yo, don’t be a b*tch listening to what they say. That’s my insecurities. I’m just being honest.” The rhythmic 808’s and opera background vocals, make this musical piece not only soul touching, but courageous, and offers complete transparency for the multi-faceted star, ending with an outro saying: “Now that we got that out of the way.”

“Catch Your Eye,” is the second single release, featuring one of the most iconic producers, Swizz Beatz. This up-tempo, feel-good song, will have you swaying as soon as the beat drops. The song features background vocals by Melodie Ray. The optics that accompany the song, are filled with neon lights and pictorial artistry by Nigerian visual artist, Laolu Senbajo, who is also featured in the video directed by Jussie. Smollett sings with fervor about grabbing, capturing and keeping someone’s attention, but first, he needs to catch their eye. Jussie states, “To have one of the true Kings of Hip Hop like Swizz leading this with me is just bananas,” Smollett said. With the visual, I wanted to take it even further. I was inspired by Hype Williams’ film BELLY and really just Hype in general. But I also wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t some stream of consciousness in there.”

Catch Your Eye” directed by Jussie Smollett featuring Swizz Beatz

Evolving into the third song on the ten-song album, is “Hurt People.” Another upbeat tune that talks about people in pain, who inflict their pain on others unintentionally, and holds them accountable by singing, ”We all go through things in our lives, but that don’t make the sh*t alright.” This track gives off a Michael Jackson flavor, with all the right pop melodic spices. The video is set to be released in mid-March, and will be the third single released from the album. The outro Jussie says, “I ain’t hurt anymore,” affirming in the lyrics, Smollett himself, was once among those “Hurt People.”

The tempo changes to a slow, beautifully sensual, balled, filled with a wicked bass line, and an acoustic feel with the fourth song ”Ha Ha (I love you).” In this song, Smollett serenades about romance, and making love with a climax ending in a blare of passion, professing his love. If you have that special someone, this song should be added to your romantic playlist.

In “Smile,” Smollett vocalizes about a relationship being at a crossroads and leaves him wondering if he’s the origin, and all his attempts at making his significant other happy, have proved to be futile. He pleads if there’s no reason to smile anymore, then it’s time to cease.

“Staycation,” gives a reminisce of Kendrick Lamar’s ”B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” by way of R&B. As he sings, Smollett croons ”I need a moment to myself, just me and I and no one else, yeah. I wanna fade away fade away I really wanna disappear and fade away fade away.” This is a track to put on your vibin playlist, when you just want to escape reality for a brief moment in time, and breathe in your own air.

The intro to “Don’t Go'” exposes the content of the song by Smollett conveying “Yo I’m a real good brother, but I’ll go through that mother f***kin phone in a heartbeat.” He is apologetically jealous in his relationship, but secure enough that his baby won’t go anywhere. He shows another side to himself, by revealing he has no problem checking anyone who comes too close to his other half. The rhythm gives off feels of a Caribbean tone, something that makes you want to wind your waist to. People can also identify with the lyrics in this song, being we’ve all been a little jealous one time or another.

What I Would Do,” gives off a Drake semblance with the fast, tuneful flow. With this song, Jussie wants to make the bond a permanent one as he sings ”Cause if it wasn’t for you I don’t know what I would do, And we got so much to lose I don’t know what I would do. I know we’ll be together. I wanna make it forever your love is making me better (better) Baby you know it’s the truth I don’t know what I would do.” He reassures that special person that it doesn’t matter what they’ve been through, no one is perfect, and he accepts them for who they are no matter what, even if that comes with emotional baggage, he’s willing to help carry it in.

Freedom,” the first single announcement from his now released album debut to the world in January 2018, accompanied by heartfelt visuals directed by Jussie Smollett himself. The video which took place in Africa, stars beautifully talented actresses Tika Sumpter (Tyler Perry Have and The Have Nots, Ride Along) and Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple). He cantillates about loving someone so vividly, wholeheartedly, and through that unfiltered love, comes Freedom. This unfeigned melody and video, will expressly tug at your heartstrings in a lovely way. Per Jussie, “I wanted to show love in its most honest and pure form. A couple doing what every couple does…just living their lives. It’s a song about complete bliss, not the fantasy or some false sense of security, but love in its most honest and pure form. Whether it’s love for your partner, your family, your people or yourself, when love is true, there’s a feeling that you can literally fly. That’s what I want for myself and every creature on this planet. To me, that’s true freedom.”

”Freedom” Directed By Jussie Smollett

 

The album concludes with a velocious, hip-hop, club banger, featuring once again, producer extraordinaire, Swizz Beatz entitled “I Know My Name.” Smollett makes a declaration to his hometown, by assuring them he hasn’t forgotten where he comes from, the fame hasn’t changed who he is, and he wants to represent his city to the fullest. He chants about spreading positive vibes, singing:
”One day Imma turn it up for my city
One day Imma turn it up for my city
Cause I know my name, I know my name
Ain’t a damn thing changed. Ain’t’ a damn thing changed. Ain’t damn thing change. I know my name. Ain’t a damn thing change. Ain’t a damn thing changed.” Swizz drops in on the hook ”Imma throw a block party tonight. Imma set it up for my hood, man, tonight. Imma celebrate with my people tonight.
I’m thankful for love, be thankful for love
We gon’ do it tonight, all white party tonight
Food and drinks on me tonight man tonight. We getting lit lit tonight.”

This is a canticle you can dance to and a colossal way to end the album.

Jussie Smollett has demonstrated in this album a variety of genres like hip-hop, R&B and pop, giving diversity, and offering something for everyone to enjoy. It shows his versatility, artistry, and highlights his creativity. This is one album you shouldn’t sleep on. Jussie is  an amazing Actor. In the body of work, music proves to be his first love. With this album he has distinguished Jamal Lyons of Empire, from Jussie Smollett the vocalist, singer, writer, director, and producer. Every track is worthy of euphonious praise. If you haven’t already, you definitely should add this album to your collection.

THE SUM OF MY MUSIC TRACK LISTING:

1. Insecurities
2. Catch Your Eye Ft. Swizz Beatz
3. Hurt People
4. Haha (I Love You)
5. Staycation
6. Smile Anymore
7. Don’t Go
8. What I Would Do
9. Freedom
10. I Know My Name Ft. Swizz Beatz

Written by: Jada Kemp aka SincerelyMSPRDiva @sincerelymsprdivakontrolmag