Believe it or not, R&B is in a beautiful place. The once-"dead" genre has been born again. In the past few years, its vocalists have made strides into hearts and onto the charts. With a playlist full of SZA, H.E.R., Ella Mai, and Daniel Cesar, you can’t go wrong. Ella Mai spent 15 weeks at number one on the Billboard charts, H.E.R. took home a Grammy for best R&B album, and SZA? There’s no comparison.
All of that was great until singer-songwriter Jacquees dubbed himself the "King of R&B." Maybe he meant it; maybe it was a joke that turned into a viral discussion. Either way, one thing is true: Jacquees isn’t messing around when it comes to making catchy R&B singles.
It’s easy to create an industry plant and skyrocket to the top of the charts. That isn't the case with Jacquees. Born Rodriquez Jacquees Broadnax, the 24-year-old wasn’t raised in the music business. He was born in Decatur, Georgia, and spent the majority of his childhood being a regular kid. He found his passion in singing at 9 years old, when his mother would play everything from Barry White to Marvin Gaye to Boyz II Men around the house.
His singing career was later developed by Block Entertainment, where he learned the ins and outs of the music industry. He dropped his first mixtape in 2011, Round of Applause, and followed it with releases in 2012 and 2013 before his debut album, 4275, in 2018.
The singles from 4275 ended up on not only our playlists but also the charts. “You,” which is now certified gold, peaked at number four on Billboard's hip-hop and R&B charts. “B.E.D,” a catchy Avant-sampled single, peaked at number nine. Along with offering original tracks, Jacquees blesses his fans with "QueMixes" that sometimes end up better than the original. Recently, he turned Ella Mai’s “Trip” into the smash it could have been before it was swiftly taken off streaming services by 10 Summers label owner DJ Mustard.
Regardless of the many Twitter memes based on him, Jacquees still prevails. At the end of 2018, he delivered a performance at the Soul Train Awards that instantly impregnated every audience member. He serenaded the crowd with a star-studded rendition of "B.E.D," reassuring that the "king" lives within him.
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But it takes more than a few catchy singles and one album to wear the crown. Longtime musicians such as Usher, Bobby Brown, and even Chris Brown are much more suitable contenders for the throne — with more extensive discographies, greater performance value, and record sales throughout their careers. But Jacquees, who makes your 14-year-old sister fantasize about love she never had before, could be the heir apparent.
So, no, he's not the king of R&B, especially when compared to the genre's heavy-hitters. But the rising star has made strides in rhythm and blues that shouldn’t go unnoticed. He doesn't hold the crown, but if he continues moving at this pace and sticking to the roots of R&B, who knows what 2019 holds for Jacquees?
8 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-7300, fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost $44 to $104. Show has been canceled.