Jessie J :: Who You Are :: Universal Republic Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Who You Are] Yours truly needs to listen to pop radio a little more often. Working as I do as the webmaster of OHHLA, I sometimes get submissions from artists well before I've heard their music, and often before it's even out in stores. Still I've got this nagging feeling that if I had turned on XM 20 on 20 more often, I would have known right away that Jessie J was not a hip-hop artist. Then again considering her biggest single to date is with B.o.B I think I could be given SOME slack on this one. I figured she was an up-and-coming artist affiliated with B.o.B through Atlantic, the next Nicki Minaj or Trina, and with a handle like "Jessie J" she doesn't exactly strike out as being in the same category as a Christina Aguilera or Mary J. Blige.

Well actually that's true. Jessie J wouldn't fit into the traditional mode of powerful vocalist divas that both of those ladies come from. Jessie J is more the Ke$ha type of singer - super young, popular overnight, and not shy about adding a little hip-hop attitude. "Who You Are" is the first major label album from J, real name Jessica Ellen Cornish, and there was so much demand for her CD that the release date got pushed up by a month - or at least that's what her publicist/Wikipedia editor will claim. That's not her only similarity to Ke$ha though - they both have Dr. Luke working behind the scenes orchestrating their top hits. Put it this way - "Tik Tok" is to K$sha as "Price Tag" featuring B.o.B is to Jessie J, and both have been chart smash hits.

Jessie J: "Seems like everybody's got a price
I wonder how they sleep at night?
When the sale comes first, and the truth comes second
Just stop for a minute and - smile
Why is everybody so serious?
Acting so damn mysterious?
Got your shades on your eyes and your heels so high
That you can't even have a good - time"

B.o.B: "All I need are keys and guitars
And guess what, in 30 seconds I'm leaving to Mars
Yeah we leaving across these undefeatable odds
It's like this man, you can't put a price on the life
We do this for the love so we fight and sacrifice every night
So we ain't gon' stumble and fall never
Waiting to see, a sign of defeat, uh uh
So we gon keep everyone moving their feet
So bring back the beat and then everyone sing"

As pop music goes it's pretty tolerable - scratch that, it's pretty damn good. You can also hear her hip-hop attitude coming out on non-Dr. Luke produced tracks. She's rap/singing or if you prefer sing/rapping on the Oak track "Rainbow," and there's no shortage of moxie to "Do It Like a Dude" thanks to her brash declarations and the beatwork by The Invisible Men teaming with Parker & James. "Grab my crotch, wear my hat low like yo." Indeed! I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone listening to this song that Jessie J is proudly bisexual (and we're GLAAD that she's proud too - no joke).

Okay now to be perfectly frank about it, there's not that much to Jessie J beyond her production. It's also quite frankly disappointing that B.o.B. is the ONLY rap cameo on this entire album. I was expecting a lot more from her, and I was expecting a lot more from "Who You Are" given she's definitely playing to a hip-pop crossover market. There's a tradeoff here - she's a slightly better singer than Ke$ha, but Ke$ha has more balls. (Another unintentional sexually ambiguous pun? C'mon Flash.) Seriously. She's much less afraid to rap, to brag, hell to get stinking drunk and pass out on some dude's lawn. Quite honestly, Ke$ha is just more fun to listen to, even though Jessie J may ultimately have more career longevity. It's a decent enough album for the teenage dance set though.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10

Originally posted: April 19th, 2011