It’s never too late for an artist to switch artistic gears in their music career. Three years after the release of Unpredictable — his intimate and soulful sophomore album —and first in 14 years, Jamie Foxx opted for a more insouciant approach to his singing style on his follow-up, Intuition.
“Unpredictable was more, like, slow, bedroom things, which was great but when I went on the road we had all these ballads, so sometimes I had to work a little harder to keep people’s attention,” Foxx said to Billboard in the winter of 2008. “With [Intuition], we’ve got all these legitimate club, international hits and the tempo is up. People hear this record and go absolutely nuts for it.”
Before Foxx shifted his career into mainstream, he catered to his fans that made his Grammy-nominated sophomore album an R&B best seller in 2005. “Just Like Me,” Intuition’s lead single, featured rapper T.I. and acted on the fact that women can think a lady but act like a man too.
For the battle of the sexes-style video, Foxx enlisted Taraji P. Henson as his female companion, who went up against him in a number of hilarious activities, including mini golf, guitar hero and a stare down contest. The results of this double-standard collaboration led Jamie to earn his third non-featured top 10 single (No. 8) on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
After flipping Ne-Yo’s “She Got Her Own” with Fabolous and coming in at number three on the Billboard 200 with Intuition in December of 2008, Foxx finally peered at making his presence felt in the pop realm. Just weeks after entering the new year, the charming singer released “Blame It” as his proper second single.
Far from the sophisticated sounds of Unpredictable and even the playful jolts on “Just Like Me,” the T-Pain assisted-single wasn’t anything career-long fans would have expected from the Oscar-winning songster. But being able to remain true to your integrity as an artist, while adapting to current trends makes you a true musician. Foxx learned this to be true with his intoxicating club thriller.
Employing a chopped and screwed backdrop and favoring in distorted vocals, Foxx and his Auto-Tune tutor, T-Pain, pointed the guilty finger at the evils of alcohol that often cause baddies from the club to let loose. The two are mostly to ‘blame’ for the overindulgence in night caps, though.
Inspired by the late Notorious B.I.G’s epic “One More Chance (Remix)” video, Foxx called on his Oscar-recognized super friends and other A-listers for his red-hued visual. The star-studded moment went down in 2009 as one of the best visuals, landing the number one spot on BET’s year-end music video countdown show, Notarized.
The landmark success of “Blame It” went far beyond music video charts. The hottest club joint at the time flew up many Billboard charts, including the Hot 100 (No. 2). Though the party anthem couldn’t knock down Black Eyed Peas’ blockbuster single “Boom Boom Pow” from the summit, Foxx had no problem causing serious damage on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where “Blame It” held down the top spot for 14 consecutive weeks. The tipsy track made history in its 12th week atop the chart, experiencing the greatest-run in 15 years at number one since R. Kelly’s “Bump N Grind” in 1994.
As the year 2009 died down, the accolades for Foxx’s hit single kept coming in. At the 52nd Grammy Awards, he and T-Pain took home the covenant trophy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Even though Foxx had experienced a Grammy win before, this one was a lot more significant since it was his first as a lead artist. On top of winning an award, Foxx performed on the live telecast with T-Pain and guitarist Slash.
Instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel and continue the seductive path of Unpredictable, Foxx challenged himself to be an artist who created music that felt artistically correct for the moment. Ten years later, the 51-year-old singer is probably glad he listened to his Intuition.