You may remember Cleveland artist JayR City from his single, “Nice and Slow,” which we covered here on Spice on the Beat last year. The young singer is back with his new album, Progression to Greatness, which can be streamed everywhere now.
Progression to Greatness starts with the song “Wavy.” It’s a fun, catchy beat with small, intricate details. Although I’m not the biggest fan of two of the most prominent stylistic choices in this track; auto-tune and heavily trap-inspired beats, I feel like it works as a great intro track. If there’s something JayR knows how to do, it’s to flaunt his charming, cocky demeanor with smooth, sexy vocals that know how to entice his female listeners. It’s a promising start to the project, but I hope we see some variety in the hooks and production.
Off the bat, the one thing that sticks out about the second track, “Amazing,” is the lack of transition. There seems to be a slight disconnect between “Wavy” and “Amazing”; the songs sound like they should be on the same project, but it doesn’t feel like much thought went into connecting the songs so far. I also hate to say it, but this hook isn’t one of my favorites. There’s no doubt it’s catchy, but nothing about it stands out for me, especially when it’s placed this early on in the album. It’s one of the more melodic tracks I’ve heard about “catching a body,” but I don’t feel particularly impacted or moved in any way by this track.
Again, we don’t see much of a transition into “Homicide.” Lyrically, this is my favorite track out of the three I’ve heard. The visual imagery and story-telling elements are entertaining and imaginative. However, beyond that, I haven’t heard anything that separates any of the songs as yet. They all feel pretty formulated, with the same structures to each track. There isn’t too much happening in terms of cadence or dynamics, so the songs have all started to blend together. JayR’s voice sounds beautiful as always; there’s no doubt there. But I’m beginning to feel underwhelmed, and I’m waiting for something to blow me out of the water. I’m holding onto hope, though!
The use of Plies and T-Pain’s “Shawty” was one of the first stylistic choices to catch my attention. When I first heard JayR’s music, it was of his cover of “Come Thru,” which lived up to the original, so seeing him re-visit covers and re-work them proves to be one of his strengths. The song is cute and fun and incorporates the track in a fun, nostalgic way, helping it to stand out among the others. But in terms of production, I still want something more interesting.
You can read about the next track, “Nice and Slow,” here. I first covered the track last year when it was released as a single. I’m not particularly crazy about placing 2 covers right after one another, especially when they utilize the tracks in similar manners, but individually, this would be a stand-out.
I like the dynamics, beat, and hook to “Enough” quite a lot, but the songs aren’t tackling anything exciting. I always advocate for a couple of turn-up songs and the idea that Hip-Hop doesn’t have to always be conscious and meaningful, but the first 4/6 songs have essentially dealt with the same topics with remarkably similar beats and hooks. I love JayR’s music, so I’m rooting for something new and dope because I’m getting bored by this point.
Alright! Now “Time” is what I’m talking about! Give me sexy and sensual! I’ve been waiting for it! Although the beat reminds me too much of “Birthday Sex,” it’s a classic 2000s sex song, and boy, am I here for it! This is where JayR excels, and it’s something finally new among a plethora of vanilla trap beats. The song leaves me wanting more, just like how I felt when JayR re-worked “Come Thru,” and that’s precisely the feeling I’ve been waiting for. Now let’s see what else he can do!
How did we take this long to get here?! Just the production for “Don’t Play” offers something so new and refreshing. It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s a different and light-hearted side of JayR that perfectly contrasts with the sexy zaddy side we just witnessed in the track before. A perfectly curated album, in my opinion, should be able to highlight all of an artist’s strengths while still creating a project where each song works with one another to bring it to completion. It can have overarching themes and similar sounds, but each piece should be identifiable. Besides the tracks that sampled popular songs, these last two have been ones that I could pinpoint from the album, which brings me so much joy. I’m so proud!
The production in “Closer” is easily my favorite beat so far. This is more of what I envisioned when I heard that JayR dropped a new album, and even then, these small details are beyond what I could have imagined. This project has taken a complete turn, and while it bums me out that it took this long to get to this point because I was getting discouraged, I’m so happy I waited. This is the R&B that shaped all of our awkward horny teen years, and I love it! The lyrics are simple but include clever zingers that are so much fun to listen for. This song showcases JayR’s abilities in some of the best light.
The beginning of “Gang” gave me Lil Nas X vibes, and I’m not mad about it. We got another trap beat, but it works well when it’s placed after three very different songs! If anything, I love the bounce to this. I am in absolute disbelief that my mind could be changed this quickly about an album. This song hits. However, that is until we get to the feature. It isn’t that the part is bad, but if there is anything I’m picky about, it’s when the quality of a feature doesn’t match the quality of the track. Spend money on your mixing and mastering, please!!! The feature should never sound as though it’s been recorded elsewhere; it should sound like they hopped in the booth right with you. The ending was also extremely disappointing, primarily because it ended on that quality and because the track felt unfinished.
Fret not, because the album quickly redeemed itself when I heard “Taken.” This song is sensual and electric, seducing the listener with the small elements in the production paired oh-so delicately with JayR’s vocals. And the introduction of AngelDust’s vocals was just pure perfection! Her voice is like honey, matching JayR’s impeccably in terms of sex appeal and skill. I felt like I needed to give the 2 of them some privacy! I’m once again not completely sold on the ending, but I did actually love how it transitioned into the next track, “Erica’s Interlude II.”
“Erica’s Interlude II” is… Goodness. Just short enough to tease you but long enough to make your mind wander. The production is beautiful and simple, but also dynamic and layered. Beautiful addition to the album.
“Osix” felt like it took a while to gain some momentum. I would have preferred this song earlier in the album with a shorter introduction. It is a cool piece, but a bit slower, so placing it after a sex song slows the album’s pace overall, whereas it could fit after one of the trap beats to add some variety. With that being said, the super dope production felt significantly underutilized, resulting in the song feeling incomplete, especially with the lack of ending. Also, going back to that idea of some of the songs feeling formulaic, the sample fade-in has been done several times throughout the album, and I don’t think it was necessary with this track.
“Nights in the Past” features many beautiful components, but some of the sexy lyrics have become redundant, losing their charm. Once again, I mostly believe that if the album were set up differently, it wouldn’t feel this way. But because of it, the songs are starting to blend again. Again, the lack of ending feels lackluster.
I’m unsure if I would end with “Lessons,” but I love this track. Tatiana destroyed this track, and her feminine stamp on the album is exceptionally sexy. With that being said, I think she outshines JayR! They work well together, but Tatiana is most definitely the star of this track. Overall, the females killed it on this album! The last 30 seconds of the song are raunchy but delicate and make me not mind the pointed ending.
I think the biggest issue with this album is the structure. My earlier complaint was that I wasn’t seeing every side of JayR, but as I dug deeper into the project, I realized that the album showcased his versatility, but it was just too grouped together. Rather than focusing the front of the album on his heavier lyrics and sound and leaving his sexy R&B sound for the second half, I would mix it up so that the songs don’t start to feel the same after a while. While I think the album was a little on the safer side, it was strong, especially on the R&B side. I would love to see JayR take some risks, though; there’s no doubt that he has the vocal ability to back it up.
If you would like to support JayR City and keep up with his new releases, you can connect with him at the following social media handles:
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