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BEST R&B ARTIST Minneapolis 2004 - J. Isaac

Readers' Choice: Prince

We could probably retire this category with a lifetime achievement award to Flyte Tyme's Jimmy Jam Harris and Terry Lewis, or get nostalgic and go with Prince. Instead, we'll give a nod to the up-and-coming artist J. Isaac, who's played just a couple of gigs around town but has a sweet, stellar self-produced CD revolving around romantic commitment, entitled Marriage Material. In the liner notes, J. (full name Jason Isaac Moore) connects each song to biblical scripture, and thanks the Lord all over the place. But the proselytizing takes a backseat to bountiful, catchy, slow jams on the disc itself, with Isaac's beguiling vocals gently tossing the groove back and forth with refrains from his backup singers. This is anti-thug music that strives to be heartfelt more than hip or "hard," willing to risk ridicule for idealizing everlasting love. Fans of Babyface and Maxwell will be especially pleased.

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