Mood is everything in pop music, and this is especially true of R&B. From the bass to the drums to the harmonies that are formed between the two, you’ve got to have some essence of a mood at the center of your sound if you want your music to make sense to R&B fans, and it’s quite evident Ronnue knows this – at least in his new single “You Got Me Open.” Stylized like something out of the early-90s (which might as well be the 1940s to Gen Z), “You Got Me Open” plays like an old school jam with a bit of DIY charisma you can’t hear in a mainstream track.
Lyrically speaking, Ronnue isn’t pulling out any stops for this performance. He’s letting the rhythm and the melody tell the story for him as opposed to getting super imagistic with his verses, which is fine when you’ve got a sweet hook like the one we find in the chorus of every iteration of “You Got Me Open” (there are no less than six different mixes of this song, with little difference between them other than features and minor stylized edits). This puts him in line with some of the greats in R&B and, ironically enough, the minimalist pop scene outside the west coast at the moment.
What got me the most excited about this single was the beat, which is prominently featured in the instrumental version of “You Got Me Open.” With nothing to get in its way, this is a percussive setup that is almost guaranteed to inspire some catharsis by the time you hit the halfway point in the song, and I would even argue that were there just a little bit less bass in this mix, the drums might have taken the place of the lyrics even more wholeheartedly than they already do.
Melody-wise, I think the mix featuring J Esq is probably the strongest of this set, but again, the song as we hear it in the standard version is really solid, to begin with. I like that Ronnue feels ambitious enough to explore different perspectives with these different mixes, but I also think he might benefit from spending the same amount of time spreading out his creative juices on other tracks and different projects – perhaps even in collaboration with a proper band as opposed to sampling in the studio.
If you were already into Ronnue, you’re going to appreciate what he’s done in “You Got Me Open,” and I do think there’s a chance some new listeners could get turned onto his brand of melody-making with this release as well. For an underground era that has been leaving a lot to be desired as of recently, Ronnue is undeniably one of the regular voices we see trying to make a mark on harmony-laden music, and for this, I think he deserves to be commended. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, nor the sound that will break the mainstream, but it is indeed something stronger than the average calls for.