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Discography Check R&B: John Legend

Discography Check R&B: John Legend

I don't think there are many artists in the current R&B era that are as consistent as John Legend. With 11 years in the game under his belt, he still remains a relevant figure, recently winning an Oscar award for the song "Glory" with Common for the movie "Selma". Outside of that, over the last 11 years, John has created quite a nice(though small) catalog. Today, we take a look at his discography and review his albums in order. Without further adieu...

*Get Lifted


-Officially released on December 28, 2004, "Get Lifted" was John's official first album. He had previously released a live album of him performing in Philly with some original songs included in early 2004, but that's a hard to find gem. "Get Lifted" was a sleeper album, as John's first single "Used To Love U" managed to crack the Billboard Hot 100, but as release date neared, the anticipation didn't seem high. The album did manage to debut at no. 4 on the Billboard albums chart, as the second single "Ordinary People" began to pick up steam. "Ordinary People" ended up becoming a monster hit, pushing "Get Lifted" to over 2.4 million in sales and solidifying Legend as a force to be reckoned with in the R&B world. What made "Get Lifted" such a surprise was that it was stylistically different from the other R&B that dominated. It didn't feature the same structure as Usher's "Confessions" album, the upbeat tempo of Ciara's "Goodies", was not the neo-soul vibe of Jill Scott's " Beautifully Human", it was simply Legend just doing what he does best, in his OWN lane. I'd consider this album a classic hands down.

Rating: 9 out of 10
Standout Songs: Let's Get Lifted, She Don't Have To Know, I Can Change, Stay With You, So High, Refuge(When It's Cold Outside)

*Once Again


-Released on October 24, 2006, this album is sometimes overlooked, as Legend attempted to step out of his initial comfort zone to create a very solid sophomore album, which struck platinum as well. Another factor of why it has been overlooked was due to that fact that this album had no monster hit. There was no "Ordinary People" mega hit here, but that takes nothing away from the album itself. I remember going to purchase this album, and listening to it in my CD Walkman(good ol days). The booming "Save Room" kicked off the album and was also the first single. "Save Room" was very smooth and mellow, giving off a vibe of almost sophisticated R&B with this album. As I revisited this album earlier for this article, I found myself noticing that I didn't skip many tracks here at all. The one I wasn't a big fan of here was "Stereo", and that's not to imply that it's a bad song, I just am not a fan of it. The only other song I felt like skipping was "Coming Home", a ballad written for the US Soldiers and their journey on making it back home to their families. I actually was very fond of this song when I first got the album, but now, it doesn't hold up as much. Great message, but just an odd choice to end his album. However, with that being said, this album as a whole is great and it nearly surpasses "Get Lifted" quality wise with a crisper sound and more range from Legend. This is a near-classic album.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Standout Songs: Save Room, Heaven, Show Me, Slow Dance, Where Did My Baby Go, Maxine, Another Again

*Evolver


-Released on October 28, 2008, almost two years exactly after "Once Again", John's third album was meant to be a departure from his first two. More upbeat and at higher energy, "Evolver" was positioned as John Legend's fun album, but with those experimental songs, comes a risk. As I revisited this album, I skipped most of the tracks I used to before, but have grown to have an appreciation for a few others. I essentially hated this album when I first bought it in 2008, but it has grown on me more over the years. The smooth "Good Morning(Intro)" kicks things off on the right foot, while the huge first single "Green Light" featuring Andre 3000 brings the energy up instantly. While "Once Again" was lacking that big single, "Evolver" had a club banger in "Green Light", which was certified platinum, as singles began to sell more than albums at this point(Evolver went gold, selling 700,000 copies, continuing Legend's streak of certified albums even with the industry wide album sales decline). Overall, this album is a bit of a disappointment, as I tend to skip almost half of the songs on it. The first half of the album is solid with virtually no skips, but the 2nd half of the album, I only check for about 2 songs. Still, it's overall a decent album, with "Take Me Away", " I Love, You Love", "Quickly featuring Brandy", " If You're Out There", and "This Time" (which actually has been played in quite a few movies and TV shows) being the songs that I skip. He doesn't come close to a classic here, but this album still has many solid moments.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Standout Songs: Green Light, Its Over, Everybody Knows, No Other Love, Cross The Line, Good Morning

*Wake Up(With The Roots)


-This album is hard to review in a sense. It is essentially a cover album of some great songs from the 60s and 70s that still fit the political climate of 2009-2010. Released on September 21, 2010, John and The Roots combined for a pretty solid album, as John does a majority of the covers justice vocally and The Roots hold it down as always on production. The only original song featured here was "Shine", which is a great song in its own right. Both Legend and The Roots do their job here, making for an overall enjoyable listen.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Standout Songs: Shine, Hard Times, Wake Up Everybody, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free

*Love In The Future


-Legend's fifth album and most recent one was released on August 30, 2013 and it didn't seem to be poised to make a huge impact.  Sure, there were two singles in "Who Do We Think We Are" featuring Rick Ross and "Made To Love", but neither seemed to captivate the audiences as much to really peak their interest. After listening to the album numerous times, I'd say they picked the wrong songs for singles without a doubt. While I liked "Who Do We Think We Are"(minus Ross's verse), I don't think it worked as a single. Still, the album did well, debuting at number 4 on the Billboard charts, further proving that Legend's name value carries much weight. I listened to the album intently for a few weeks after it released, and there were many songs that stuck out to me. One, that didn't really stick out to me was "All Of Me", as it felt like a standard Legend ballad, with a resounding piano backed by heartfelt vocals. If you're reading this, you know that "All Of Me" was not only the biggest single off the album, but is now looked at as one of America's official wedding songs. The song was certified 4X platinum, selling over 4 million singles, and becoming Legend's first no. 1 hit. The album itself is nearing platinum, sitting at about 790,000 copies sold, continuing Legend's streak of certified albums. While 4 million people purchased "All Of Me", they should have purchased the album, because it was the best R&B album of 2013, and one of the best overall albums of that year. Once you move beyond the singles released, you have nearly a flawless album. The deluxe edition of the album only enhances the greatness with 4 extra songs that should have been featured on the regular edition. This album restores Legend to the glory of his first two great ones, while still connecting on different sounds.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Standout Songs: Open Your Eyes, Save The Night, Tomorrow, Dreams, Wanna Be Loved, You and I(Nobody In The World), Asylum, So Gone, Aim High

With just five albums under his belt, Legend has a solid catalog with one certified classic, one possible classic, one great album, one solid collaboration covers album, and one near miss. Time will only tell how things work out on his sixth album, but we'll all be listening.

-True

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