Jaguar Wright

Denials, Delusions and Decisions

MCA

With the so-called “neo-soul” trend on top in today”s music world, every artist with a headwrap, a “coffee shop” vibe and a penchant for not conforming to society”s standards is attempting to make their mark on the music industry. In the midst of the bourgeoning popularity of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and India.Arie, newcomer Jaguar Wright steps up to the plate, and she has to prove herself as not just another artist trying to jump on the ship.

Jaguar, however, surpasses her predecessors on a number of different levels. She has a spice about her that is lost on the other artists. This woman tells it like it is, and she doesn”t pull her words with concern of anyone viewing her as less of a lady. It is as if she says the things that the others are thinking, but refuse to place so blatantly in their lyrics.

In addition, Jaguar can actually sing better than any of the aforementioned artists. Her vocal range is superb, and her voice has enough soul power to reach Aretha-esque proportions. None of Badu”s whiing or Macy Gray”s slaying of sheep just pure, uncorrupted harmony. Naysayers should check out her performance on MTV”s Jay-Z: Unplugged she absolutely kills it.

Beginning her career with The Roots just like Jill Scott did, Jaguar”s debut album has a heavy influence from the group and its affiliates. Brother ?uestlove handles the drums on half of the album”s 12 tracks, and Hub and Kamal bring their respective instrumental talents to the cuts.

The incomparable Roots lead vocalist Black Thought is featured on “Ain”t Nobody Playin”” and “I Don”t Know.” He doesn”t add to or take away anything from the album as a whole, though he delivers nicely as always. Fellow “neo-soul” artist Bilal makes an unimpressive guest appearance on “I Can”t Wait,” a cut that”s reminiscent of an old Chaka Khan song. “Same Shit, Different Day” is a testament to the bull paddies over a nice melody, and “Self Love” is a delightfully mellow track that calls for a bit of personal independence.

This is an innovative album in the respect that Jaguar may be the only female artist to release a raw record and not have it be hip-hop, while also keeping the element of the music itself at a high quality. This woman is not some hip-hop whore, nor is she an R&ampB priss writing lyrics to appeal to the mainstream. She may never see the Billboard Top 10 charts, and she may never become as popular as her contemporaries. But she came leaps and bounds ahead of most of these artists with her debut, and in the end, the truth lies in the tracks themselves.

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