Album: Culture Shock
Label: Outlet Music Group/CSD
Reviewed by: Hasan James
What do you do when Kirk Franklin crowns you the next artist to look out for in a room full of industry vets and gospel music enthusiasts? You show and prove! From the packaging alone, St. Louis native, Jai (pronounced Jay) hit it out of the park with her debut album Culture Shock. The former Mary Mary background singer even wrote 90% of the project with production help from good friend, JR (formerly of Cross Movement).
After a futuristic intro, in which Jai dares to shock this culture back to life, Praise Grenade, co-written by Brandon Camphor, sets the CD off nicely with a mixture of Hip-Hop and Disco. On Calling You, Jai proclaims to God simple and plain on the chorus- “Just in case you aint heard it in awhile Lord I think you are the bomb, If I never ever said it, God you’re all that and a bag of chips” all over 808’s and a techno beat reminiscent of the 1980’s group, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. And if that were not enough, a special guest appearance from top selling Hip-Hop artist Lecrae takes this song to its climax. Speaking of special guest appearances, this album has a great supporting cast; with appearances by Thisl on Incredible, Guvna B on the unbelievable upbeat dance track Dancing For You and KJ-52, Japhia Life and Canton Jones bring the heat on the Incredible Remix.
On her debut, Jai managed to masterfully mix Hip-Hop, CCM, Pop, Praise & Worship, Gospel and Dance Music all in one sitting without compromising the gospel. Many of the songs have cross over appeal and can easily be heard on mainstream radio. Her vocals and heart shine bright on heartfelt songs like Savior, Reflection and You Deserve My All, in which the chorus beautifully boasts: “Open my eyes and I will walk your way yeah, every single day yeah, you deserve my all Lord, you deserve it, Open my mouth and I will shout your praise yeah, louder every day yeah, you deserve my all Lord, you deserve it”.
Kierra, Mary Mary, Natalie Grant, Onitsha and Mandisa…make room for @JustJai because ya girl is here to stay.