Daddy B. Nice’s CD Reviews February 2020

February 16, 2020

Itz Karma: Karma: Unleashed (Jones Boyz Ent.)

Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

One of the finest of the scores of southern soul debuts in 2019, Itz Karma’s Karma: Unleashed benefited mightily from her entry into the Jeter Jones/Gary Jones circle of musical creativity, including producer Ronald “Slack” Jefferson. Karma’s artistic identity is predicated on being sexy, edgy and controversial, and it was the former hiphop artist’s unfortunate timing to emerge in the same time period as fellow Louisiana producer Highway Heavy’s debut artist Champagne and her even more shocking and licentious debut, “Mouth On You”. Thanks to the Jones Boyz, however, Itz Karma was able to record and market a full CD.

“Rodeo,” co-sung by Jeter Jones and produced by Ronald “Slack” Jefferson, is the big draw on this LP. With many of the musical characteristics of Jeter’s smash 2018 single, “Black Horse,” “Rodeo” begins with a spectacular “Black Horse”-like first verse by Jones, then segues into Karma’s unique soprano–not overpowering, and yet not without a precocious fearlessness–accompanied by well-timed, bravado-laced interjections. “Rodeo” successfully shuttles between an edgy, crisp, vocal technique and a softer, lyrical vocal style. The contrast is most effectively delivered in the graceful, Itz Karma-sung bridge, which wafts through the tune like a refreshing breeze:

“I love to ride, 
As you can see, 
There ain’t nobody riding my horse 
Better than me…” 

Listen to Itz Karma featuring Jeter Jones singing “Rodeo” on YouTube.

If there were any lingering doubt about Itz Karma’s southern soul bonafides, “I Need A Good Man,” “Come And Get Your Man” and “Country Lovin'” situate Itz Karma squarely in the realm of female southern soul singers. “I Need A Good Man” covers all the requirements and potential pleasures in finding that rare commodity–a good man.

“Must have a good job 
That J.O.B. (J.O.B.!) 
I ain’t worried about 
No kids or college degree.” 

“Come And Get Your Man,” on the other hand, is a sharply-honed look at the unwanted advances of the male species done in a bluesy style and slower tempo.

“Just because I’m single don’t mean 
I’m trying to be a sidepiece. 
Come get your man, 
Trying to holler at me. 
Come get this fool…” 

“I Like Da Way Pt. 1” has a zydeco edge and a typically assertive Itz Karma vocal on a tuneful melody, while “I Ain’t With It” features another melodious vehicle.

Both songs percolate on interesting and inviting instrumental tracks by the inimitable Slack, honored by Daddy B. Nice as the best producer in southern soul for two years running.

The most overlooked track in the collection may be “I Ain’t With It”. Karma’s vocal could be stronger and perhaps more prominently mixed, and yet the song carries a lot of emotional and musical weight. Slack’s instrumental track percolates like a tea kettle, the chorus swings, Jeter Jones drops by with a mid-song voice-over, and the lullaby-like chorus returns. Together with the come-hither sexiness of “I Like Da Way Part 1,” it consolidates Karma’s southern soul identity to perfection. She’s definitely logged definitive time with “playas”.

There are a couple of clunkers. “For My Hittas” “Dat Juicy” and “Your Body And Your Mind” close out the set on a decidedly more mediocre note, while the disastrous funk exercise “The Party Don’t Start” will only remind old-schoolers like your Daddy B. Nice of the mind-numbing club days of Parliament-Funkadelic, in which the only way to dance to the monstrously-slow grooves of George Clinton was to get stoned out of one’s mind, like the band itself.

But these are minor flaws in a set with much to offer and please. KARMA:UNLEASHED is a pleasant and surprising addition to the ranks of southern soul divas.

–Daddy B. Nice

Listen to all the tracks from Itz Karma’s new KARMA:UNLEASED ALBUM on YouTube.

Watch the official video of Itz Karma and Jeter Jones singing “Rodeo” on YouTube.

Buy Itz Karma’s new KARMA: UNLEASED album at Amazon.

Buy Itz Karma’s new KARMA: UNLEASED ALBUM at CD Baby.

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