One of my old co-workers who knew that I was a music fan asked me if I had ever heard of Lyfe. Of course, at the time, I told her No and she told me about a track called "Stick Up Kid". She said that the video came on BET all the time on Midnight Love, which still came on at the time. Now I wasn't too thrilled about the subject matter, but the song was still pretty good. Once I heard "Must Be Nice" on the radio, I decided I would take a chance on "Lyfe 268-192". Although, I disliked the fact that he talked at the end of every song, I was definitely impressed by the CD. My favorite tracks ended up being "Must Be Nice", "I Can't", "Hypothetically", "26 Years, 17 Days" and "Let's Do This Right". His CD remained in constant rotation and was definitely one of my favorite r&b CDs in 2005. Although, the CD was released in 2004, most people didn't catch on to the CD until "Must Be Nice" was released.
Now in the Summer of 2006, Lyfe Jennings is back with "The Phoenix". The 1st single off of Lyfe's 2nd CD is a track called "S.E.X." which features La La Brown (Not Carmelo's fiancee). On this track Lyfe and La La send a positive message to all the young ladies that are growing up in the difficult world of today. They are bascially telling them that there is no rush to need to be with a man. We aren't going anywhere anytime soon. The purpose is to also tell the young ladies that there is no status or achievement to having sex at a young age. This is definitely something that should be done with serious thought and consideration, because you can't take things back, once they happen. Lyfe starts the CD with Young Buck and Doc Black on a track entitled "Slow Down". I definitely agree with the subject matter in the song, but Lyfe definitely has better songs on "The Phoenix", although Young Buck represents with his verse. The best song, in my opinion comes quickly on "The Phoenix" with "Goodbye". Lyfe has some powerful words to talk about on a ballad to decide whether or not saying goodbye to his woman is the right thing to do. If anyone is having doubts about Lyfe's sophomore CD then I would recommend them to listen to this track. "Let's Stay Together" is basically a midtempo continuation of "Goodbye" as he decides that the best thing to do is not to say goodbye and call it quits, he wants to try to make things work to stay together. Although, I am still annoyed by Lyfe talking on every other track, he definitely makes songs that men can relate to when it comes to things that go on in an average man's life. Now I have no idea why Lyfe wanted to name a track "Biggie N****". As reviewer "Constant" stated it was very humorous to me as well, but anyone that listened to "Stick Up Kid", knows Lyfe has some "gangsta" in him. "Biggie N****" allows him to display his gangsta side on "The Phoenix". The track isn't bad at all and he gives people who may not be use to the subject an interesting perspective on various events that happened in his life on the song, although the part when he says "I'm Biggie N****, reincarnated as a skinny n****", still mystifies me. Lyfe continues his "gangsta" on "Ghetto Superman" as he takes you back to the days when he was strugglin' and doing what he had to do on the block to try and make things work. Lyfe slows things down once again on "Down Here, Up There" as Lyfe sounds like he has written a personal letter to God to ask why are things so different on Earth today than they are in heaven. He is also trying to ask for some forgiveness for things that he has done in his past because he knows the life that he has lived would have God shaking his head. Lyfe puts his own interesting twist to "The River" as everyone knows the old school jam from the past. Lyfe definitely displays versatility on this track as the song has a gospel feel to it as well. One of my favorite tracks on "The Phoenix" has to be "Still Here" with Three 6 Mafia and Project Pat because the track comes out of nowhere. Although Lyfe is explaining the CD between tracks you would never expect a midtempo track with Three 6 Mafia and Project Pat on it. Lyfe goes through several difficult events in his life and eventually is just thankful to still be able to be alive and well. While Juicy "J" takes through tales of the hooo ooo ood and DJ Paul and Project Pat add their spin to things as well. Lyfe goes back to more of a traditional r&b sound on "More Than A Girl". The track wins with me but most people won't think that the track competes with most of the songs on "The Phoenix". "Stingy" starts off with a "nasty" guitar riff and Lyfe takes things from there as he is adds his own personal nasty to the track to talk about his woman. He even goes as far as saying that he cusses out his woman's bath water for every moment she is gone. "Radio" ends up being one of the better tracks on "The Phoenix" as well as Lyfe goes from talking about how frustrated he is with the world today to saying that no matter what is troubling him, once he hears one of his songs on the radio, all the trouble goes out of the window. "Keep Ya Head Up" has Lyfe using 2 Pac's lyrics to "Keep Your Head Up" but he sings them together to make a inspirational track in the realm of Jaheim's "Fabulous". Especially when you hear the end of the track when the little boy is singing "Keep Your Head Up".
Lyfe Jennings ends his 2nd CD on a powerful note with "I'll Always Love You". Although, I didn't need a computer voice telling me that it was a bonus track, Lyfe digs deep to tell a woman that he still loves that he was deeply sorry for all the bad things that he had done to her and how he regrets them. He basically leaves an open invitation for her to return if her new relationship doesn't work. That's deep.
Overall, if you enjoyed "Lyfe 268-192" then you will enjoy "The Phoenix". You will be annoyed from the narration that takes place throughout the CD but the songs themselves will try to help you forget that he is talking on every other track. Lyfe Jennings has done it again and if you haven't heard either of his 2 CDs, I suggest that you start paying attention and recognizing. You will be missing out on a great writer and a talented artist.
James' Top 5
2) Let's Stay Together
3) I'll Always Love You
5) Still Here w/Three 6 Mafia and Project Pat