Depth & Density
One such densely layered song is "Have You Ever," a track about life's regrets. A sample of the lyrics: "Woulda told the truth but lied, Held back when you should have cried, Didn't say it when you should have said goodbye, Meant somethin' but didn't say it, Said somethin' but didn't mean it, Seems like we've all been through it."
The track comes across as more of a confessional than anything else, as does the autobiographical "Life of a Thug," in which Jah reminisces about his days as a youth, selling drugs, killing people and hustling. From the description, it sounds like a gangsta rap song, but in this case the song isn't a glorification, it's like a conversation where he lays his past out to you so that you can see how far Jaheim has come as a person. It's also a sort of celebration and sigh of relief from Jaheim, who seems happy and relieved to have put those difficult days behind him.
Walking a Tightrope
And speaking of vocals, one the best things about the album is Jah's full, warm voice, which sounds just as good, albeit more mature and relaxed, as it did on his first three albums. As he should, he carries most of the album's vocal work by himself, with the rare exception being "I've Changed," a duet which features a strong performance by the sometimes inconsistent Keyshia Cole. "I've Changed," which is about self improvement (working out, taking cooking classes, etc.) to keep and impress a lover. It, like much of the album's romantic material, highlights the album.
Jaheim walks many tightropes on The Makings of a Man: he's a young man with an old voice singing both ugly ghetto stories and beautifully romantic music. Sometimes he slips on the tightropes a little, but never any any point does he fall.