Jermaine Riley – Hello Earth | Album Preview

Formerly of FDM (first known as Fun*dmental 03), R&B singer/songwriter Jermaine Riley has spent much of 2011 year quietly re-branding himself as a bonafide solo artist through the release of his very well received covers/remix tape, Nine Ten Eleven: The Refixes, as well as honing his skills and recording his debut solo album; theintriguing concept-based project, Hello Earth. Following his CJ Blair-produced song “There’s Only One Me” from his forthcoming LP, the Homeless Hero ups the gears in preparation for the release of Hello Earth.

One such gear is the project’s initial pre-campaign awareness initiative otherwise known as the all-important listening session, which took place on Tuesday November 22 at the swanky Bureau private members club on Kingly Court in central London; playing host urban music bloggers, photographers and burgeoning music artists, producers and songwriters that either worked on the album or were there to support Jermaine, such as (featured artist) Cherri V, production tandem The Baker Boyz, Manchester based beatsmiths The Sonix and Busta Rhymes‘ Midland born production beast Dready (formerly of So Solid).

After one or two false starts due to technical difficulties, Young Riley stood behind the DJ booth and played the album in full, stopping only to briefly disclose song concepts, thank those who he had worked with on said songs and crack a few well received light-hearted jokes.

Here’s our track-by-track album preview:

1. “Hello Earth: (Prod. by Swift D)

BIG cinematic sounding Just Blaze come J.U.S.T.I.C.E League-esque production kicks of the LP in the right way. As the beat knocks, it’ll make you nod your head and have you pulling a mean mug.

2. “Wonder Woman” (Prod. by Parker & James) ft. Lioness
Although I’m a fan of Lioness, I wasn’t sure how this track was going to turn out to be. Sure she did her thing on A.L‘s Funky House sounding joint “Tell Me,” but I just wasn’t sure it they’d get the combo right. Verdict: Never doubt Parker & James, Young Riley and Lioness on a track together… it’s a banger. Simple but effective kick and snare lead beat, simple but effective hook, not too many “bells and whistles.” Enjoyed Lioness’ verse… love her double time flow towards the end of her verse.

3. “There’s Only One Me”  (Prod. by CJ Blair)
To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this song when it dropped, thought it would grow on me but unfortunately it hasn’t and after listening to the rest of the LP, I’m not sure if it fits. Euro-Pop/R&B is lost on me. However, with that being said, one may have to listen to the track in sequence with the rest of the album, to hear if the song’s concept lyrics fall in line with the rest of the LP, to develop a better more well-informed opinion of the track.

4. “Smallville” (Prod. by Harmony)
Emotive, guitar lead track that allows Riley’s vocals to shine through. One of those slick songs that straddle the line between solid album track and potential single. You can literally imagine this song being played during the final scenes of a Smallville episode through to the end credits.

5. “My Superspective” (Prod. by Maleek Berry)
Adopts a similar vocal cadence and delivery recently made famous by Lily Allen and refreshed by Ed Sheeran… WITHOUT sounding cheesy. Definitely one of my favorites on the LP.

6. “Nobody Else” (Prod. by Dready)
I didn’t expect anything less than a heat rock when I first read the tracklist and I wasn’t let down. Described as his “love letter to Louse Lane,” at the request of pretty much everyone in the room, the track had to get reloaded…it was that good. Very smooth R&B joint, the only song on the album that doesn’t have a distinct medley.

7. “Key To The City” (Prod. by Harmony) ft. Donae’o
The project’s next single. Great collaboration and great production and well written super hero song. Note To Self: Donae’o spits better than the current crop of R&B singers turned rapper #Fact.

8. “Peaceful Day” (Prod. by 3 Mindz) ft. Cherri V
A rare but very welcomed well-written ballad  in today’s confused world of R&B. An unexpected piano lead ballad. A pleasant surprise that didn’t let anyone one down. Another dope collaboration. The intro was a tad long but you soon forget that once the track kicks in.

9. “The Other Side” (Prod. by The Baker Boyz)
Guitar lead track that kicks off with Riley singing in double time and at times utilises a similar Lily Allen cadence heard in “My Superspective,” without sounding repetitive. Definitely one of the more Pop/R&B sounding tracks on the LP, but once again, Jermaine pulls it off without trying to sound like something his not.

10. “SuperSexy” (Prod. by The Sonix)
[Have you ever been in a club when the DJ drops a particular song and every single woman in there screams “this is my song”? Well prepare for that to happen again]. In my opinion, this is the BEST song on the album and my personal favorite. The smooth and sultry production is near perfection. The instrumental so sultry one could imagine Brandy singing over it.

11. “Home Sweet Home” (Prod. by Caligraphist) ft. Mark Asari & Shaun Riley
Mid Tempo ballad, that’ll have you singing along to it in a matter of minutes. Another one of my personal favorites. The vocal arrangement on this song should be applauded. Mark and Jermaine vocals compliment each other and Shaun Riley are pretty impressive, he more than holds his own.

After the playback Jermaine held a brief Q&A session, answering questions pertaining to the pressures he may have experienced going into and during project after being in a group for so long, and why decided to release a concept based project as his first solo (original music) introduction to the world.

“There was the pressure of trying to establish myself as a solo artist as well as trying to say true to FDM’s core fan base… that was something I had to get my head around because I’m used to having the guys [Varren Wade and Kyle Lettman] with me,” he admitted.

“I decided to do a concept album because those are the ones I’ve personally gravitated towards, because they take you on a journey. I’ve always been that type of artist to put bodies of work together. I respect work like [Usher‘s] Confessions, Micheal Jackson‘s Thiller. The only way that I can really get my art out there in the right way is to really conceptualise and make people know that I care as much about my music, I think they should.”

He added, “I think talking about the superman thing makes it easy to be creative and be different. My next project is probably going to be more geared towards universal concepts.”

Hello Earth is due for release January 2012, with plans for an accompanying tour.

Jermaine will be supporting Miguel at his one-off London date on November 28th at the HMV (Kentish Town). Click here for further information on the gig.

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