Who does Rochelle Jordan think she is? On her mixtape, R O J O, She has the audacity to sample Kelis ("Earth to Your Brain"), do a mashup of "Swing My Way" and "My Boo" ("Shawty"), delve into Thom Yorke ("Sleep"), and switch up styles left and right. You know what else she has the audacity to do? Make it all work for her. Though it's only a mixtape, R O J O has the nerve to be better than most mainstream R&B albums released this year.
Maybe this is because Ms. Jordan isn't afraid of her influences. Traces of Kelis, Aaliyah, Amerie, and even Destiny's Child
can be heard throughout -- especially on tracks like "All I Know, "Stars
Align," and "Fallin" -- but yet she somehow makes them all her own and feel
completely original. Helping on that front are Rochelle's lyrics. While
mostly clean, they aren't afraid to veer closer to the raunch of Frank Ocean or her Toronto homeboy The Weeknd's style.
The songs that really give you a sense of who Rochelle Jordan is as an
artist, namely "Sleep," "Feel the Same," "Rule the World," and
"Oblivious," all showcase a (pardon this) swagger and verve that belies
someone sure of her vision -- other more established artists should be
taking notes. Sure, she doesn't have the voice of a Beyoncé or Jennifer Hudson, but what good is having a stellar voice if your output doesn't match it (right, Kelly?).
Rochelle stays in her lane, not stretching to hit soaring notes or
using boatloads of melisma, and she uses her voice in surprising and
interesting ways. She also chooses her collaborators well. The three MCs
that feature here (Mel on "What I'm Sayin," Wingate on "Feel The Same Way," and Mat Randol on "Rule the World") don't overshadow her on the songs nor do they detract from them (again, looking at you, Kelly).
The biggest issue that I take with the set is that some of the more
brilliant moments are just too short. "Earth to Your Brain" and "Romeo's
Dagger" both got me hype only to end a few short seconds later with no
payoff (note to Rochelle: Flesh those two out immediately).
R O J O is ambitious and bold and, for the most part, hits the marks
that Rochelle set out to achieve. If this is what she can do now, I
can't wait to see what the future will hold for her.
Rochelle Jordan R O J O [Download]