Darrin Lee Jr. is an R&B singer/songwriter and also the founder and CEO of Carter’s Music Group. He grew up in Louisville, KY. He began singing at an early age, and was given a rich musical education by his grandmother who introduced him to legendary blues artists like Bobby Bland and B.B. King. As his musical palette expanded he got into 90’s R&B like Boyz II Men, Aaliyah and Brian McKnight. This provided the inspiration to try writing songs himself and this music is a big influence on his current material. By 16, he was using every penny he had to record his songs in a studio and everything has developed from there.
This debut EP, PUSH, consists of six tracks all in the R&B genre. The tracks blend contemporary R&B with the radio friendly production style of more modern artists like Usher and Chris Brown.
Please Don’t Go is an emotional plea to a lover set to a languid R&B groove, and features some stellar production which gives it a cutting edge, modern vibe perfect for radio. Darrin gives a passionate yet perfectly controlled vocal performance and the sparse but effective musical backing really allows his vocals to shine. The lyrics are brutally honest and pointed: “I know I ain’t perfect, ask yourself is it worth it?” before pleading with his lover to stay on the memorable chorus.
Change My Ways has a very cool, almost psychedelic intro consisting of backwards guitar before breaking into a funky R&B track driven by gorgeous, warm bass which works as the perfect contrast to Darrin’s versatile high end vocals. Lyrically, it’s an honest expression of turning a new leaf and raising your game, ditching bad habits and adopting personal responsibility: “No more late nights, no more crying about me….cos life is a lesson, you don’t pay attention then you’re gonna miss it, you better get off these streets and raise your family or you’re gonna regret it.”
Just Wanna Dance is a sultry and slinky track with smoky electric piano setting the vibe, before a crisp beat kicks in. Darrin’s nuanced vocals really stand out on this track, capturing the sensual mood of the song’s theme. It’s music for the bedroom or to set the tone for a romantic evening with a lover and the refrain “I just wanna dance” latches in the memory upon the first listen and acts as the track’s main hook. A definite contender as a single release.
About Us (ft. T-Real) has already been released as his debut single and it’s easy to see why. An upbeat R&B track with a hip swinging groove, it boasts a super catchy title hook and a seductive lead vocal from Darrin. His voice is complemented perfectly by featured guest, hip hop artist T-Real, who really helps give the track personality and flavour. It’s a song about ignoring what others think about you and focusing on love. Ideal for radio, this was an understandable choice for a debut release.
Broken Hearted has also been released as a single and shows the more vulnerable and sensitive side to Darrin’s songwriting. It finds him in a low place emotionally and his falsetto vocals are superb in the way they convey his feelings. Echo-drenched guitar creates a melancholy soundscape on the verse then a kick and finger click provides the rhythmic momentum on the fine chorus. Great track.
Tell Me How You Feel is more like a hip hop track, with confident yet laid back rapping on the verses which works well in contrast with the sing choruses. The languid beat and chorus refrain have a mesmeric effect and the production is once again first rate and highly innovative. This would make an excellent choice as a further single release from the EP as it sounds very much like a hit to these ears.
Overall, PUSH is a fantastic R&B/hip hop EP from a highly gifted singer and songwriter. Darrin Lee Jr. has spent years honing his craft and so has already fully matured and developed as an artist. The EP stands out for its consistent quality throughout and truly every track would stand up as a potential radio release. Darrin Lee Jr. could very well become the next Usher or Drake.