Keith Sweat – Just Me
Atco Records / Rhino Entertainment (5/13/08)
I’m old enough to remember where I was when Keith Sweat’s 1987 debut album—the triple-platinum Make It Last Forever—was released. Back then, you could drop an album that was just eight tracks long, but then again, back then we all thought the New Jack Swing era would last forever. Sweat’s record sales began a slow and steady decline over the next several years, before he realized his greatest success with his self-titled 1996 classic.
The funny thing is, save for the production work on his albums, Sweat hasn’t changed much at all in over two decades. Just Me is “exhibit A” to back up this statement.
“Just Wanna Sex You” comes off as a pastiche of some of Sweat’s best efforts in a desperate attempt to turn back the clock. Ronald Linton’s background vocals here serve only to show Sweat’s growing vocal limitations. And, really, the Keith Sweat I knew wouldn’t have to shamelessly pander an audience half his age by inviting Keyshia Cole to join him on “Love You Better”. It’s actually a pretty good cut (Sweat, himself, produces it), but, it still dilutes some of his “grown folk” sound.
FM radio gave “Suga Suga Suga” some rotation earlier this year and that was probably deserved. It’s a fun little cut and includes a promising newcomer by the name of Paisley Bettis. Speaking of “fun”, I got a huge kick out of “Butterscotch”, which is essentially one long backhanded slap to dark-skinned sistas everywhere.
Hey, times change… I get that. Sweat should be commended for this attempt to remain relevant in a ring tone/download world. Just Me is perfectly listenable, but is actually one of those rare albums from an established artist that might be a stronger lure to newer fans than those of us who could say we knew him when.