Donell Jones

The Best of Donell Jones

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Each successive Donell Jones album has charted higher than the one that preceded it -- topping out at number 30, number six, number two, then number one, at least on the R&B/hip-hop albums chart -- and yet, the singer still seemed like something of a cult artist as late as 2007, releasing the occasional single that most R&B radio listeners know, while never really becoming a full-blown star. In fact, his first single, 1999's cool and breezy "U Know What's Up" -- written by a cast that included a pre-notoriety Anthony Hamilton and the undervalued Balewa Muhammad -- is the only one that cracked the Top Ten of Billboard's mainstream singles chart. That the equally excellent "Spend the Night" (from 2006) follows "U Know What's Up" on The Best of Donell Jones goes to show how Jones' frustrated bafflement would be justifiable; it didn't even touch the mainstream chart and peaked at number 74 on the R&B chart. While each of Jones' four albums through 2006's Journey of a Gemini is rather consistent, this disc is pretty close to faultless as a highlights summary. Excepting "In the Hood" (an odd omission) and "Ooh Na Na" (a very minor and late charter), it contains each single Jones released from 1996 through 2006. At only 53 minutes, it wouldn't have hurt to be all-inclusive with the singles while throwing in a couple deserving album cuts, but that would decrease the chances of casual fans backtracking and getting the albums, wouldn't it?

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