On "Diamond in the Ruff," off November 5's Still Ghetto, Jaheim sings, "We started out like Bobby and Whitney/ Justin and Britney, then it all got ugly."
No wonder the New Jersey native has had some harrowing experiences with women — he needs better role models.
"A diamond in the rough is something you don't see twice," explained the golden-voiced singer, who also compares a past broken relationship to that of Archie and Edith Bunker and Ike and Tina Turner. "It's something that you had in the past and you wish you had now, something you regret losing now that you're dealing with all this frustration."
The woes continue elsewhere on the LP. On the ballad "Back Tight" he croons, "Looking back at all I put you through/ Too much of a thug n---a to tell you I love you/ ... Thought I had my game tight/ Thought I had it locked down, knowing sh-- wasn't tight."
Fortunately he finds comfort through the discord, rolling with "cash up in the dash, heat up in the seat just in case of beef" and his boo riding shotgun on "Me and My Bitch."
"That's the one they gonna get offended by, but it's real," Jaheim said. "It's talking about me and my lady friend. Just freedom of speech. Ghetto words. Ghetto terminology you use in the 'hood. You call your chick one thing and that's what it is, but it ain't what is. I hope they accept it."
And leave it to guest star Mary J. Blige to bring a little more harmony to his life on wax, via the jazzy "Beauty and a Thug."
"This is like a dream to me," Jaheim said of having Mary J. on his album.
Blige, who knows a thing or two about being thugged out, goes back and forth with Jah, describing a lovable, ruffian "killer bee" and his sexy, "butterfly."
"His style is rough/ He wears his hair in cornrows/ Pants low," Mary sings before Jah comes in to sing about a lady that he likens to a "rose that grew from concrete ... from the street."
"I'm from the streets," Jaheim said, explaining that the album title Still Ghetto comes as a continuation of his first album's title, Ghetto Love. "I definitely don't want to take away from that because that's where I'm from. You're going to hear a lot of that on my records."
"He's so thugged out," goes the melodic chorus on "Beauty and a Thug." "She's so beautiful/ They're so different/ But they're in love."
While there's no word yet on whether the song will be a single, Blige appears in the video for Jaheim's first offering off the album, "Fabulous," which samples Teddy Pendergrass' "Wake Up Everybody" and tries to invoke pride.
"I'm just trying lift a couple of spirits," he said. "If my spirit was broken every day, I know a lot of people feeling the same way. Just because you got a little fame on your shoulders it's nothing, we're still human. I'm glad I got the songs I got, because when I get depressed I can go listen to a record, just write another hit or something. I feel like I'm being blessed."
Still Ghetto track listing, according to Warner Bros.:
- "Diamond in the Ruff"
- "Let's Talk About It"
- "Put that Woman First"
- "Beauty and a Thug"
- "Me and My Bitch"
- "Back Tight"
- "Special Day"
- "Long as I Live"
- "Everywhere I Am"
- "Tight Jeans"
- "What You Want"
- "Every Which Way"
- "Still Ghetto"