Since proclaiming himself the “King of R&B” in 2018 with a viral video clip, singer and songwriter Jacquees has never looked back on putting his imprint on the genre. Known for blending R&B with soul influences and hip hop, he embraces raunchiness while maintaining focus on the emotional exchanges in relationships in his most recent album “Sincerely for You.” The record, released last December, reflects his maturity as an artist since his adoption of the “King of R&B” moniker and 2019 sophomore album titled the same.
When Jacquees announced that he would be doing a show in Los Angeles for Valentine’s Day, fans knew they were in for a sultry yet energy-filled night. A nearly sold-out crowd showed up to The Novo, ready to sing, dance and celebrate the day of love. But was Jacquees’s live performance ability enough to help him cement his legacy as the “King of R&B”?
Characteristic of this genre of music, the show quickly took on a sensual mood. Jacquees began with songs from “Sincerely for You.” Carrying on with the newer themes of maturity and treating women right in a relationship in his music, Jacquees highlighted the female backup dancers in his show. He sang with smooth, clear vocals, capturing the undertones of desire present throughout his discography. Jacquees channeled his characteristic swagger into a suave demeanor as he performed heartfelt tracks such as “You” from his first album “4275.” In “You,” he sang about sticking with a woman he loved and the feeling of knowing that she was the one for him.
Of course, Jacquees made sure the crowd had a good time while celebrating the people they loved. The singer kept up a high level of energy throughout the show. While he sang “Come Thru” from his first EP, “19,” he performed a hip hop dance routine with two background dancers. The diverse reciprocated his energy, singing along and dancing out of their seats even on the balcony level of the venue.
As Jacquees ended the show, he made his love for his fans clear, letting them know that he appreciated everyone who came, from the ladies and to the “fellows who brought their ladies to the show.” The night was a romantic one for all, with themes of self-love, appreciation for supporters and messages of gratitude for significant others that were each touched on during Jacquees’s performance.
Ultimately, Jacquees delivered a performance that enraptured the crowd. The cockiness of his previous social media comments was replaced with effortless charm as he crooned to the audience. He strolled across the stage with confidence honed in from years in the spotlight, and any insecurity from the deriding responses to his self-coronation was undetectable.
Despite Jacquees’s strengths as a live performer, he still has a ways to go in order to truly claim the title of “King of R&B,” even for this generation. The concert marked Jacquees’s first solo headlining concert in LA since he did a nationwide tour in 2020, and although it generated buzz and strong turnout, his fan support was not up to par with the instantaneous ticket-purchasing and song-memorization that an artist referred to as the royalty of their genre would command. Audience members clearly chanted the verses of Jacquees’s older hits, but many of his newer songs had the crowd feeling the music without the same familiarity.
While Jacquees’s music is expanding in the topics it explores, incorporating introspection alongside his tried-and-true lyrics about sex and confidence, he is known first and foremost for doing the definitive aspects of R&B well, not for adding anything new to the genre. Many of his songs follow a pattern of being slower-paced and having strong beats, while some of the forays he has made into melodic rap feel like unsuccessful attempts to follow mainstream trends. He embodies the essence of R&B but doesn’t have the discography to fully showcase that.
Although Jacquees has not closed the case for himself as “King of R&B,” he succeeded at what he does best: sultry, smooth tracks dedicated to female appreciation. He showed the classic R&B that both his supporters and critics know he delivers. It was a dynamic, groovy night, and few wanted the singer to “tell them it’s over.”