I was going through my CD’s having to burn them into my iTunes because I recently bought a new laptop, and I found Jasmine Guy’s self-titled debut album. Released in 1990 at the height of Guy’s fame because of her starring role on the NBC sitcom A Different World, Guy had a couple mid-level R&B hits from the album, but it didn’t really sell all that well.
So for those who remember Guy from A Different World will probably say, “Wait a minute – Whitley Gilbert is singing?” Well, the nasal, Southern twang that Whitley’s famous for is fake – Guy’s voice is noticeably deeper, smokier, and not at all annoying. As a singer, she’s got a decent voice – a bit thin and airy – she sounds like a happy medium between Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul – and her music is the kind of urban dance-pop that Jackson and Abdul excelled at.
Jasmine Guy was a pretty good CD. The production at this point is laughably dated (the crisp, military beats, the then-obligatory rap solos, mile-wide electric bass, wall-to-wall synths), and the songs aren’t terribly memorable. Guy as a vocalist is good, a nice departure from the obnoxious nasal whine of her TV alter ego, Whitley. Guy does a “I’m just an average diva next door” attempt on the pretty good “Don’t Want Money,” which features a mediocre rapper referencing her TV show. There are also some stuttering, crunchy electric guitars. The album’s lead single “Try Me” is probably the album’s strongest cut – a great slice of early 90’s New Jill Swing, produced by then hot urban producers, Full Force, and backed by 90s En Vogue rip off girl band, Ex Girlfriend.
Keeping in tune with her socially conscious role on A Different World, “I Wish You Well” is a faux gospel-pop number with a call-and-response arrangement and a lyrics that extol the virtues of education, peace, and acceptance/tolerance. One can picture the Whitley of the show’s later seasons preach on, singing “I Wish You Well.” A fun bit of trivia is Guy’s Different World costar Cree Summer joins her in the choir on “I Wish You Well.” Summer also would go on to release a Lenny Kravitz-produced album, as well.
See below for Guy’s three music videos for her singles:
“Try Me” (No. 14 on the R&B charts, 1990)
“Another Like My Lover” (No. 6 on the R&B charts, 1991)
“Just Want to Hold You” – which hit the top 40 on the pop charts (No. 36)