Fresh off the smoothly-groovy “IDC,” St. Louis-born crooner Jordan Ward is shining too bright not to notice.
Previous songs like “Sandiego,” “Lil Baby Crush” and “Okok (Hibachi)” off his debut LP, Valley Hopefuls, propelled the 27-year-old emcee to prominence. However, Ward possesses a significant soul found within the dusty vinyl gems hidden on the shelves of a record store. He oozes both nostalgia and control, drawing loose similarities to R&B enigmas in Miguel and Brent Faiyaz on first listen.
His affiliation with legendary producer NO-ID and DMV mainstay Joony drew a bigger fanbase to Jordan’s blissful, carefree soundscape, as he now holds over 400,000 Spotify monthly listeners. Hopping on tracks like “ZOOM ZOOM” and tapping Joon for “IDC” in October, Ward’s unwavering vocals and refined confidence are perhaps the most impressive aspects of his creative direction. Soulful R&B is an understatement to the rising voice’s artistic allure — which is mediative, mature and made for better days.
While his latest release is not an all-new pack of tracks, Ward gifts fans with a remix EP of a few of his favorites — prominently interpolating Lil Yachty‘s viral track “Poland” on his new project Plantain Karoke. Produced by LIDO, the tape includes classic cuts like SZA’s “PROM” off CTRL and “Bria’s Interlude” off Drake‘s So Far Gone. Ward melds these tracks into a free-flowing showcase of vocal ability — balancing high and low registers with the poise of a dancer. After all, the singer moved to Los Angeles at age 21 to pursue a career in dance — taking a chance when he joined Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour in 2016.
Nevertheless, Plantain Karoke is a robust extension of Ward’s sonic repertoire — even if he’s just having fun with it. Alongside photoshopped artwork of Ward on each of the track’s respective covers, it’s a serious display of skill regardless of frivolity. He makes SZA’s “PROM” sound more soulful than ever, bringing more swoonly-sung vibrato to “Bria’s Interlude.”
Travel back in time 10 years and Jordan Ward and Omarion would have competed for this placement with Drake. That high note is so impeccable it’s goosebump worthy. “Poland” is the most experimental of the bunch — speeding up the F1LTHY-produced beat that aimlessly floats a futuristic vibe.
Ward dropped his debut EP, A Peak at the Summit, in 2017, as Valley Hopefuls followed shortly after in 2019. Sharing a handful of singles since — dropping his last project, Remain Calm, in 2021 — the 5-minute long remix tape holds over die-hard fans while earning new listeners in the process. If this release pattern continues, it seems as though 2023 is when Jordan Ward assumes the superstar role his voice was born for.
Listen to ‘Plantain Karoke!!!’ below!