Throwback: Jesse Johnson-Be Your Man


Jesse Johnson is best known as the original guitarist for The Time. His early years were spent between his native Rock Island, Illinois and St. Louis. He moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981 and met Morris Day. Enterprise was the name of the group that Day was fronting at the time and he invited Johnson to be his guitar player. When Prince took members Terry Lewis, Jimmy “Jam” Harris, Monte Moir and Jellybean Johnson from local funk band Flyte Tyme, he added Day as the singer and enlisted Johnson to be the guitarist for his new band The Time. Johnson’s virtuosic funk/rock guitar playing gave shrill sonic voltage to the band’s jams “777-9311,” “Jungle Love,” “Get It Up” and “Ice Cream Castle.” Johnson also received credit for co-writing Bite The Beat” with Prince on the Vanity Six project. In addition to playing guitar he co-wroten The Time singles “Jungle Love” and “The Bird.” By 1984 the band broke-up and Johnson signed a solo deal with A&M Records. Jesse Johnson’s Revue would come out the next year and produce three singles “Be Your Man,” “Can You Help Me” and “I Want My Girl.” That same year Johnson produced an album for a group Ta Mara And The Seen who had success with the single “Affection” and “Everybody Dance.” By the time of his second solo album Shockedelica was released in 1986 Johnson had managed to fulfill a dream Prince never did by working with Sly Stone on the R&B hit “Crazay.” Every Shade Of Love was his next solo release in 1988 and it maintained the solidity of his previous works. The Time reunited in 1990 for the Prince movie “Graffiti Bridge” and a new album Pandemonium. After the reunion projects Johnson did a lot of soundtrack work for the films “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty In Pink,” “Another 48 Hours,” “White Men Can’t Jump” and “A Time To Kill.” Bare My Naked Soul in 1996 would be his return to solo recording. Soul would unravel Johnson’s complete Jimi Hendrix sensibilities giving his fans the kind of guitar work that was usually sidestepped for the R&B side of things. Ultimate Collection in 2000 compiled his essential singles, B-sides, 12″ versions and the unreleased song “Vibe.” In October of 2009 Johnson returned with the outstanding double album Verbal Penetration Volumes 1 and 2.




Kickmag’s 2009 Picks

1 .Q-Tip Kamaal The Abstract

Q-Tip does funky reflective fusion and it works.


2. Raekwon Only Built For Cuban Linx 2 More than competent return from Wu-Tang grime master.

3. Al B. Sure Honey I’m Home Classy R&B from a New Jack Swing era surviver.

4. Teena Marie Congo Square More timeless soul from the original vanilla soul child.

5. Sa Ra Nuclear Evolution: The Age Of Love Freaky free funk in the middle of a calcified R&B mainstream.

6. Blackroc A hodgepodge of mostly New York rappers backed by the hillbilly rock of The Black Keys presented by Damon Dash

7. Chico Debarge Addiction Soulful sensuality from the Debarge tenor on par with Long Time No See

8. Chrisette Michele Epiphany Jazzy R&B sweetness mediated by pop sensibilities.


9. Jay-Z The Blueprint 3 Hova representing for his hometown with his superior slick hardness.

10. Mos Def The Ecstatic Dante Smith may act most of the time but he still raps well.

11. Jesse Johnson Verbal Penetration Former Time guitarist releases first solo album in
thirteen years and his chops are still intact.

12. Maxwell Blacksummer’s Night Everyone’s favorite male “neo soul” singer makes good again after an eight year hiatus.


13. J.Dilla Jay Stay Paid Another lovely but sinister posthumous release of divine beat science from the Detroit master.

14. Whitney Houston I Look To You A nice comeback record from the ’80’s and ’90’s pop darling

15. Living Colour Behind The Sun Funk metal kings assert their deadly acumen once more after scaring fake rock fans with the brilliant Collideoscope.


16. Meshell Ndegeocello Devil’s Halo The R&B deconstructionist rightfully picks apart the usual musical assumptions proving again why she is the most important R&B artist of her generation.


17. Ledisi Turn Me Loose– The singer reinvents her sound with a much needed faster pace and fire.

18. Buckshot & KRS One Survival Skills The Boot Camp Clik hustler and the legend collaborate on a back to the basics type of hip-hop album.

19. Melanie Fiona The Bridge Sassy but not tacky R&B from the Canadian newcomer.


20. Snoop Dogg Malice In Wonderland Party music from everybody’s favorite West Coast rapper.

21. The Clipse Til The Casket Drops Potent cocaine rap.


21. Shabazz Palaces Abstract funky hip-hop from Digable Planets’ Ishmael.

22. Souls Of Mischief Montezuma’s Revenge A much appreciated reappearance of the West Coast’s Wu-Tang Clan type crew.

23. Kam Moye AKA Superstition Splitting Image Down to earth lyricist willing to be himself in world of flossy rappers. Refreshing.

24. Wale Attention Deficit Punchy delivery from the D.C. rapper with one of the biggest buzzes this year.

25. Q-Tip The Renaissance Ok it came out at the end of 2008 but it’s nominated for a Grammy and it should be. Soulful hip-hop without the extraction of the boom bap.