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Now Hear This: What’s Up? It’s Me – Rod Clemmons

Rating: ***

Rod Clemmons is a producer and owner of Verdict Records. He’s been helping new artists get off the ground for some years now, so I guess he figured “Why can’t I be a star too!?!?!”.

I get it Rod, we all wanna be stars.

So on January 22, he released “What’s Up? It’s Me” and I get the honor and privilege of checking it out and passing along my thoughts on it. So I’m gonna get right to that.

The album begins with the title track “What’s Up? It’s Me”. It kinda reminds me of that old Babyface jam “When Will I See You Again?”. It’s a slow jam for sure. Rod has a smooth voice for sure. Lyrically, it’s fairly simple, but it gets the point across. Not bad. “What’s My Name? What’s Your Name?” is next and it’s got a little more funk and flavor to it. Musically this one has more of a Prince vibe to it. I dig this one. Track three is “What the Hell Do You Mean?” and it’s also the third straight track with the word “What” in the title. Odd. We are back in full-on slow jam mode with this one. I actually prefer this one to the title track. “I Love My Music” is another funky one. Lyrically, it’s autobiographical in nature, and that’s cool because I feel like I know a little bit more about Rod now. “Carolina In My Mind” is a cover of the James Taylor classic. It's very well-sung love song. Clemmons really does justice to the original here. He's like a modern mix of Prince and Marvin Gaye. “Amen” takes an upbeat gospel turn. It’s the kind of song that might get lost in the mix, but it’s inspiring and danceable. “She’s My Girl” is a tune about his mother. It’s sweet. “Crazy Love Story” gets lost in the mix a bit. It’s predictable and dated sounding. “Allejuiah” sounds you’d hear it on an R&B radio station in 1995. That’s not the best thing. We’ve reached a slow point in the record. Will the last two tracks turn it back around? “Unbelievable Love” has a little bit of a Doc Box and B-Fresh (throwback!) groove to it. I actually like this one quite a bit. Strongest chorus on the album. We are back on track! “That’s What Love Is” is the grand finale and it’s a pretty ballad. It isn’t bad, but we didn’t exactly end with a bang. I mean it’s a good song and all, but I wanted something POWERFUL.

Listen, Rod Clemons offers up a good little LP here. If you’re into 90’s R&B jams, there’s gonna be more than enough to tickle your fancy. I give it a solid recommendation to my old school R&B heads out there.

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