‘Like I Never Left’ Part II: Eight of This Year’s Top R&B/Pop Comebacks

Now that we’ve covered a few of 2009’s most anticipated comeback albums, especially those from T-Boz, Kelly Price and Silk, it’s time for part 2 of ‘Like I Never Left’. Keeping in mind that we’ve got some ways to go, let’s dig right into eight more anticipated releases including the return of entertainment diva Jennifer Lopez and the long-awaited return of Maxwell ! (Click here for Part 1 if you missed it) “On The 6,” “This Is Me… Then,” “Rebirth,” and “Brave” are all albums that have been released since Jennifer Lopez hit the scene in 1999 so it seems fitting, 10 years later, that she release a Greatest Hits album right ? According to Jennifer Lopez and Bryan Michael Cox, who spoke with Singersroom in November, Jennifer Lopez is doing just that. Instead of releasing a normal Greatest Hits project, the former “If You Had My Love” singer is coming strong with a few new singles including a Bryan Michael Cox tinged cut, with hopes that she’ll reignite the fire she once had on the charts. While little is known about Lopez’s “Greatest Hits” effort, sources believe the effort will allow Lopez to mount a comeback of sorts since her last album “Brave (2007)” was graded less than stellar. The effort, which was led by the single “Do It Well,” was given a C rating at Entertainment Weekly where Jonathan Bernstein wrote “Expensive beats and uplifting material are offset by listless vocals”. Jennifer Lopez’s “Greatest Hits” is slated to hit stores sometime this Spring. With J. Lo coming back in the spring, her once chart-topping and red carpet rival (sans an attempt at a dress similar to J.Lo’s much-talked-about red carpet gown a few years back) Toni Braxton is also readying a serious comeback after having a stellar 2008. Braxton, who is currently on the ‘Dancing With The Stars’ tour, is plotting a ‘rebirth’ of sorts with a new deal at Atlantic Records after severing ties with Blackground Records. Currently titled “Pulse,” Braxton’s sixth studio album is linked to a ‘who’s who’ of producers and songwriters including Rodney Jerkins, Claude Kelly, and the Underdogs. Braxton is, in fact, so focused on this effort that she’s even recruited former label mate Tank (who also made Part 1 of our 2009 list) and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds to put their special touch on a record or two. Since 1993, Toni Braxton has released two four multi-platinum selling albums including the eight-time Platinum certified “Secrets”. Signaling her return, Braxton released “Melt (Like An Iceberg)” late 2008, which was later followed by an official single titled “Get Loose”. With a mostly positive reaction from fans, who on Singersroom rated the song 5 out of 5, it’s safe to say Toni Braxton is going to be received with open arms. With several divas coming strong in 2009 the gentlemen have got to bring it too… two of those gentlemen are Omarion and Sammie ! While both of these young men have been featured on a number of collaborative efforts, including Soulja Boy’s recent single “Kiss Me Through The Phone,” it has been at least three years since they’ve released independent projects. Now you may ask why we’re putting the two together. The honest truth is that they’re both in very similar situations. Both have new record deals (Omarion with Timbaland’s Mosley Music and Sammie on his own label Empire Entertainment), new looks (Omarion cut his long held braids in 2008 while Sammie has matured his look and style) and are working on their third albums. With that said, looking deeper into Omarion’s as-yet-untitled third studio album and first away from the label that launched his career with B2K it is safe to say that O has a whole lot more competition since he rocked the charts with “Touch” and “O” in 2005. It seems that Omarion is aware and is stepping up his game. Even though details are sketchy when it comes to those collaborating with the actor/singer, Timbaland and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins have been linked to the album. At this time there is no release date set for Omarion’s album. According to his fansite Ogzone, that keeps track of the singer’s SayNow posts, Omarion is busy gearing up for the release of the effort and solidifying new business ventures. Like Omarion, Sammie has enlisted the help of hit making producers for his third album, rumored to be titled “Coming of Age”. Slated for release later this year, Sammie’s third studio album has been linked to Bryan Michael Cox, Daron of 112 and The Cornaboyz. For Sammie however, this effort is about transition. When he spoke with Singersroom in August, Sammie said “I just know I want it to kind of coincide with me growing up and becoming a young man.” Like their counterparts, Sammie and Omarion have given credit to those that came before them including Usher, Donny Hathaway and Jodeci. In fact, the latter of the three, Jodeci, has recorded a reunion album. In an exclusive interview with Hot 97 late last year, K-Ci Hailey said “We just finished it (the album), we did like thirty songs and we’re trying to pick which ones we’re going to put on the album.” Now because this ‘reunion album’ has been on tap for sometime now, there is much skepticism about the actual release of the effort. Jodeci’s last album, a greatest hits effort titled “Back to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci, was released in 2005. Just like Jodeci, R&B singer Case, who reveled in the hit single “Touch Me, Tease Me” in the late 90s, is set to return in 2009. Returning after a roughly eight year break (“Open Letter (2001)”), Case surprised us with news of a new album in 2008. While the album missed record stores, its first single and video “Lovely” hit the net to the liking of fans who wondered what happened to the “Missing You” singer. Received by fans on Singersroom, Case’s “Lovely” has garnered mostly 4 out of 5 ratings since its debut in late August. Speaking about the effort, titled “The Rose Experience,” Case says “I haven’t really changed too much, I do what I do and stay in my lane.” Staying on course, R&B singers LeToya and Maxwell round out Part II of ‘Like I Never Left 2009′. After breaking free of Destiny’s Child in the early 2000s, Houston-raised singer LeToya made a well received solo debut in 2006 with “Torn,” a single that propelled her to #2 on the R&B charts. Since “Torn” LeToya has been a busy lady. Touring with the Queen of Hip Hop/Soul Mary J. Blige is one of many things that have occupied the “She Don’t” singer over the past three years. Making it clear that she’s a lady first before anything else, Le Toya has titled her anticipated sophomore effort “Lady Love” and lead single “Not Anymore”. Set for release in April, LeToya’s “Lady Love” has been linked to The-Dream & Tricky Stewart, Rodney Jerkins and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Last but definitely not least, R&B/Soul fans are going crazy over the fact that the man who sung classics like “Fortunate,” “Lifetime,” “Matrimony” and several other soultastic records, Maxwell, is set to return with new music in 2009. While that in itself is great news, especially since Maxwell’s last album was released in 2001, the fact that the singer is releasing a trilogy is almost too much to handle. Luckily for us he’s releasing the trilogy over a three year period. Titled “Black Summers Night,” Maxwell’s trilogy will be led by the album “Black”. Rumored to be hitting stores this summer, Maxwell’s “Black” was quasi-previewed to fans in late 2008 – those who went out to his tour can attest to this. According to tour reviews, the “Cococure” singer performed a record titled “Pretty Wings” and two other cuts titled “Help Somebody” and “Cold”. With so much anticipation it’s safe to say that Maxwell will be a big name in 2009, 2010 and well… let’s just be honest 2012 when the last piece of the trilogy is due for release. …. Stay clicked to Singersroom Monday as we go through the final piece of “Like I Never Left 2009: a review of this year’s most anticipated comebacks and releases”. If you missed Part I, be sure to check it out here. As usual Singersroom will keep you abreast of any changes in release dates via our entertainment news or monthly R&B/Pop release recap. Click Here for Part III which features our final picks for 2009 including Whitney Houston, D’Angelo and Monica.


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