Jazmine Sullivan had a lot to prove with her debut album, Fearless, in 2008. Four years prior, the project was shelved by the exces at Jive Records.
“I had the full project done, first and second single and then they called it off,” Sullivan told Flint Journal in 2009 about being dropped by Jive Records at age 16. “It was heartbreaking. But I had to learn from my mistakes and keep it moving. I never let it get me down. It took a while to get to this point, but definitely, everything that happened I’m grateful for. I can’t be mad.”
Taking her walking papers in stride, Sullivan knew greater was on the horizon. She kept busy by enriching her natural songwriting abilities and lending her raspy cadence to established and emerging artists.
From singing background vocals on Kindred the Family Soul’s confident tune “I Am” and Fantasia’s “Selfish (I Want You to Myself)” in 2004 to penning Christina Milian’s 2006’s single “Say I” featuring Jeezy, the Philadelphia-native continued to keep her confidence high in music with overwhelming support from Grammy-winning musician Missy Elliott.
Moving forward to 2008, Sullivan was ready to officially introduce herself to the world as a solo act. Contrary to radio airplay at the time, which featured loved-up ballads and club-styled R&B records, Sullivan fired up stations with a sonically different track, and named it “Need U Bad.”
The reggae-tinged single, hyped in the background by Elliott and featuring Jamaican lingo from Pepa of Salt-N-Pepa, shot to number-one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and reached the top 40 on the Hot 100. Two singles: “Bust Your Windows” and “Lions, Tigers and Bears” tiptoed behind the success of “Need U Bad,” launching Sullivan as a bonafide superstar.
Sullivan received seven rightful Grammy nominations for Fearless and many supporting tracks including “In Love with Another Man.” Although she was robbed of gold, her efforts will never go overlooked by day-one listeners.
To celebrate the anniversary of Jazmine Sullivan’s album Fearless, Rated R&B has ranked the songs from minimal rotation to heavy rotation.
“Alexa, wouldn’t you agree Macy Gray or even Kelis should’ve been handed this record?”
11. “Dream Big”
Echoing the video game audio transition from level one to level two, Jazmine readies herself for stardom. She takes Daft Punk’s “Veridis Quo” a lot further by inserting depth with her motivational lyrics.
10. “After the Hurricane”
Despite the grand vocals, this disastrous track sounds less Jazmine and more J Records.
9. “One Night Stand”
On this infectiously catchy track, which is arguably modeled after classic 50s-style songs, Jazmine uses her astounding range to play the front and back. And her harmonies on the bridge … whew.
8. “My Foolish Heart”
Could this gullible record be the prelude to Jazmine’s “10 Seconds”? On the verses, she profoundly roars about her unsuspecting feelings before issuing out a last warning to her untrue lover.
7. “Call Me Guilty”
Violence is never the answer. Yet, Jazmine justifies her bloody actions as self-defense while championing women to leave before this revengeful narrative becomes their fate.
6. “Live a Lie”
The reality jumped out on this reflective track. Jazmine’s raspy inflections thrill as she vocalizes the lyrics that have been the love-struck story of many.
While harmonizing so beautifully, Jazmine outlines her life and music career worries. Although she credits Art of Noise and Stevie Wonder for instrumentations, undertones of the sincere number eerily sound like “Everything is Everything” by Lauryn Hill.
4. “Lions, Tigers, and Bears”
The Rodgers and Hammerstein-styled tune inspires listeners to go in the wild and walk up to any one of these three frightening animals to belt these deep lyrics.
3. “Bust Your Windows”
Jazmine’s lyrical power knows how to hit a man hard — especially in his pockets. Her nonchalant grunts alone make this unforgiving track about vandalizing her cheating man’s car all the more pleasurable.
2. “Need U Bad”
For an inaugural single, setting yourself apart from the popular crowd makes your introduction more unforgettable. Jazmine did just this with her Caribbean-infused debut offering, making her coming out monumental.
1. “In Love With Another Man”
In most cases, debut singles are typically the signature song for an artist. But for Jazmine, this gut-wrenching ballad about having a lustful eye for someone else’s man takes the award.