Little Jackie - a duo made up of singer-songwriter Imani Coppola and programmer Adam Pallin - is everything that good music should be: creative, innovative, daring, provocative and most of all, entertaining. On their debut album, The Stoop (released in the U.S. on July 8, 2008) the two turn music on its head by marrying old-school R&B sounds to splashes of doo-wop, hip-hop and hit pop, then fusing them with some of the wittiest, and sometimes quirkiest, lyrics you've ever heard. The result is one of the best albums of 2008 - by far.
Catchy & Accessible
is that rare album that doesn't contain a single bad song. From top to bottom, the album's 11 songs are all catchy, accessible and able to draw you in. And impressively, each is so well-constructed that you don't tire of them after a few listens. Exhibit A is the single "Cryin' for the Queen,"
a blistering diatribe against British Soul singer (and complete mess) Amy Winehouse. On the track, Imani calls out Amy, basically telling her to get her act together and stop being a screw-up. The doo-wop style song, which has lyrics like "Judging your behavior and your junkie routine, its time for you to get clean and stop creating a scene," is a little mean spirited, but its tough love message is something that people in Amy's inner-circle probably should have been saying a long time ago.
Another album highlight is "Guys Like When Girls Kiss," a doo wop-ish meets wedding march track, this one with Imani singing about giving up on men and getting revenge against them by marrying a woman: "Their probably ain't one woman on Earth who hasn't considered this/Men are from another planet, how can we possibly co-exist?," she sings. "Anyway, guys like when girls kiss," she rationalizes to herself.
Men and relationships are also the topic of another revenge song, "LOL," where Imani sings about a formerly attentive boyfriend who grows distant over time and who then accidentally sends Imani a text message meant for the other woman in his life. She gets even by sending him a text from a blocked number saying to meet up a location, then watches from a distance as he waits and waits.
Among the Year's Best
© S-Curve Records.
Non-romantic relationships are explored on the album, too, such as the title piano-driven track, where Imani sings a vivid narrative about sitting on her front stoop in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. "It ain't all hard up in the 'hood," she sings with apparent pride and love. The song's so catchy it could be a TV sitcom theme (and coincidentally, the show "Everybody Hates Chris" is set in Bed-Stuy, where the show's co-creator, comedian Chris Rock grew up). The bookend to the title track is the Soul song "Go Hard Or Go Home," a track about family ties: "We tough as nails in my family, you mess with them, yo you're messin' with me/Wouldn't believe the things we been through, mark my words better me than you." She then goes on to reveal some of her struggles, but says that through it all, her fam has gotten closer - and tougher: "We survived/we alive/we got pride/we be tight," she sings.
To be honest, The Stoop can't be categorized as a traditional R&B album. As mentioned above, doo-wop is a prominent ingredient, as are hip-hop and pop. Imani raps a little as well as sings (most notably on the reflective "28 Butts") and she definitely has an East Coast hip-hop swagger. But of all the music genres it touches on, it most most closely relates to R&B, and Imani's vocals can be quite soulful at times, like on the previously-mentioned "Go Hard Or Go Home."
In a perfect world, this album would go on to sell millions upon millions of copies, but even if that doesn't happen, know that when it comes to quality, The Stoop is among 2008's best.