With a faint whisper, not a bang, is how Grand Hustle’s first R&B artist released his second album.
He should’ve been bigger. He should have gotten more acclaim. Awards, accolades, you name is.
Governor Washington, who now goes by the stage name “Gio” was supposed to be the man that showcased Grand Hustle’s soulful side. His blend of soulful R&B with hip-hop influences was nothing new, but his spin on both the genres is what was supposed to make him a surefire hit. Governor was featured on several T.I. songs including “Ain’t As Fly As Me”, “Hello”, and was featured on Santana’s “Since Supernatural” with Wyclef Jean. He had the right people around him, and he was even given his own song to showcase himself on The P$C’s “Indictment” mixtape:
So when his album limped out in September 2006, it was sort of surprising that it only peaked as high as 50 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Charts. Now, one can point to this being that Governor was released on a rapper’s label, something that was a common curse for a lot of other artists who were suffering the same fates (DTP). It seems to be rough for one to come from another major artist’s shadow, especially when that artist is still active (and at the peak of his career).
An unheralded, poorly promoted R&B album being sandwiched between the releases of “B’Day” and “Food and Liquor” and on the same day as “FutureSex/LoveSounds failed to make a peep surrounded by major heavyweights (add insult to injury: Janet dropped “20 Y.O.” and Ludacris dropped “Release Therapy” later that month). Governor wouldn’t last much longer on “Grand Hustle” disappearing into the cosmos before resurfacing in 2010 with 50 Cent’s “G-Note” records.
But let’s backtrack a little bit. This post is about “Son of Pain”.
The simplest way I can sum up this album is it’s one of the greatest R&B albums of the Millennium. It lays the foundation for what modern R&B would try and fail to become. It’s the smoothest blend of rap and R&B we’ve seen a pure R&B artist pull off, and it deserved more.
The album does a great job of mixing Governor’s personal life with impeccable storytelling as well as traditional R&B love songs. The album opens with “Blood, Sweat and Tears” (featured on Daddy’s Little Girls Soundtrack) where he talks about his upbringing and personal struggles:
It’s the survival of the fittest, ain’t no rules to the business
So get what you can take, take what you can get
Counting on paper you ain’t made yet
The first few songs of the album deal with relationships and the issues within, it’s a decent start, but the album really begins to take off at “Destiny”, which is a song about meeting a woman in a crowded room, beginning a relationship with her and then being unsure about his desire to commit. Plot twist: this becomes a theme through several of the songs, but it works wonderfully as it is presented in a myriad of different ways.
“Never Wanna Leave” is the album’s standout track and is a cover of Donny Hathaway’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”. It’s one of the few times I’ve ever heard anyone be able to do a Donny Hathaway song justice. It clocks in at 7 minutes long, but I promise that you will not notice the length, the song hooks you from the minute Governor belts out the first note to the last piano key.
“You Got the Power” is the obligatory feature track with T.I., it’s not bad at all, just incredibly short and leads into what is easily the album’s worst track “Move Easy”.
The close of the album is a strong one, from the infectious “Make Love To You” to the sad and melancholy “I Can’t”, each one of those tracks is worth a repeat.
All in all, the album is a solid 55 minute experience that deserves your attention. Governor deserved more than he got, and hopefully he can find some value in his career now that he’s producing songs for “Power” and working with 50. It’s rough to see one of your favorite rappers of all-time (T.I.) really drop the ball on a strong talent like Governor, but at least we got left with one of the better albums of our generation. You can listen to it for yourself below!
Standout Tracks: “Destiny”, “Never Wanna Leave”, “Make Love To You”, “That’s What I’m Talkin”
Worst tracks: “Be Yourself”, “Move Easy”