There are some people who cannot sit still. Whether driven by boundless energy, ego, or artistic curiosity, these tireless spirits tackle so many different projects it makes even the hardest working of us feel a little inadequate. But determination and desire to branch out doesn’t always equal success. Jamie Foxx [click to read] is multi-talented guy, almost no one would argue that, but it takes more than a great voice to create a great record. It takes charisma, something Foxx certainly has when acting or performing stand up but is sorely lacking on his new album, Intuition. It says something that the album’s far more enjoyable first half is the one packed with big name guests. Foxx works best on this album when he is the side-man, ready to sing a hook or adlib a vocal run. But when he is left alone on the albums last half, his voice, while technically strong, lacks the emotional grit needed to carry the brokenhearted laments and lover man seduction ballads.
Album opener and first single “Just Like Me” [click to listen] has a strong melody and Foxx seems to be having a good time but it is T.I. [click to read] verse that really makes the song, the Atlanta rapper stepping in and oozing charisma on wax. T.I. does this better than almost anyone around and if Foxx could manage half of what T.I. does the record would be much better for it. “I Don’t Need It” works well with a spry yet propulsive beat and ascending horn stabs. Foxx himself displays his great talent for mimicry while delivering the song in a slurred, southern Al Green-esque twang. This is the album’s best un-assisted song but it is also the one on which he sounds most like someone else. Other standouts on the first half of the album include the Just Blaze produced, Beasties sampling “Number One” and The-Dream produced “Digital Girl” [click to listen] . But true to this record’s form Foxx is outshined by a riotous Lil Wayne [click to read] verse on the former and on the latter two verses from Kanye, the second of which is vintage irrepressible Kanye, a welcome treat to present-day skeptics. One of these two songs should be a hit, but it’ll be thanks to the guest verses and the production if it becomes one.
After the first half, which is fun but by no means monumental, the second half of Intuition drags. Most of these songs are boring bedroom ballads in search of a melody. Foxx just doesn’t seem able to properly convey the desire required to sell the material. Occasionally, like on the Pharcyde-quoting [click to read] “I Don’t Know” Foxx really breaks out and sounds like a true Soul singer and not just an actor taking on a role.
The album closes with two of the stronger Foxx solo tunes. “Overdose” boasts sparse No I.D. [click to read] production and Foxx really sells the song, about a man who overdoses on a girl instead of drugs. His voice is rough and it works with I.D.‘s production, which is a relief from some of the busier songs on the album. On this track Foxx shows why some people consider him the most talented guy in showbiz. But it’s a case of too little too late. Foxx will have a career for decades as one of Hollywood’s leading men but it’s to be wondered how long he will be able to release albums that work better as a showcase for others than for him. Perhaps the lesson is it’s better to be great at one thing then just okay at several.