Jordan Rakei // Franklin’s Room

Save the best for first… right?

I’ve dedicated the first post on Lazy Plays to an album that I just can’t quit coming back to. It’s a completely contagious mix of R&B, soul, and *yay,* reggae. Rakei’s vocals are smoother than smooth. And that’s what brings such a unique quality to these songs – you really don’t get a set of perfectly arranged reggae crossover tracks too often.

I usually expect a mix of neo-soul, hip hop, and R&B from Rakei. He has several other releases out, and the first song I heard from the Brisbane artist was ‘A Tribe Called Government’ off his 2014 release, Groove Curse. At that point I immediately fell in love with his vocals and catchy songwriting. My respect for his music exploded when I heard he had a few reggae songs on this 2013 release.

Franklin’s Room starts out with two soulful and moody tracks: “My Time” and ‘Hope’ are full of imagery that helps make the transition to the highlight reggae track of the album, ‘Selfish.’ It’s in this track that Rakei combines soul, a quick-stepping drum beat, some horns, and intense story to create a track with motivation and style. All three of the reggae tracks on this album stick to an addictive groove. ‘Get Up’ even pulls in some stand-out dub elements. The album rounds out with ‘Imagine,’ a heavy kickback to R&B where Rakei’s drum and bass choices allow the track to tie together the rest of the album. Not a song you want to skip!

It’s not every day that you hear such smooth sound. And this was a debut album?! Although it’s been a few years since its release, Franklin’s Room sounds fresh every time I listen.

This album makes reggae music more accessible to the wide group of R&B listeners who might not otherwise be into the genre. It’s crossovers like these that promote attention to classic ska and reggae in a familiar way, which I hope lets people dig into the catalog a bit more.

I hoped to catch Rakei on tour in Boston, but never made it. Keeping my fingers crossed for continued international touring!

Favorite Track:

03 – ‘Selfish

Give it a listen:

Released September 26, 2013