Two things elevate “Come and Talk to Me” to a level above the average new jack swing ballad: K-ci Hailey and Sean “Puffy” Combs.
Without those two elements (the latter of which was not present on the song’s original version) “Come and Talk…” is a pretty standard early ‘90s R&B ballad. Boy meets girl, boy wants to chat up girl, so on, so on… The song’s arrangement is fairly standard. It’s got a memorable chorus. Whatever. So far, so Intro. Or so Shai. Or Color Me Badd. Or…you get the picture.
I take nothing away from Jojo Hailey’s considerable vocal talents, DeVante’s solid songwriting and production skills, or Dalvin’s…whatever the hell Dalvin did. But K-ci was what made Jodeci Jodeci. That raspy, pleading voice was unique to R&B at the time, and gave Jodeci’s songs a bit of old school soul grit. He’s an underrated vocalist, and “Come and Talk…” is a great showcase for his talents. Listen to how he grows increasingly impassioned as his verse progresses. That’s how you interpret lyrics!
My relationship with Puff is pretty complicated, and we’ll get to that in a later entry. He wasn’t much of a rapper, or a musician, but he was a visionary in his way. His remix of “Come and Talk to Me” is genius, even though all he did was place Jodeci’s vocals over the beat from EPMD’s “You’re a Customer”. The idea of combining a Quiet Storm slow jam with a jeep-knocker became commonplace as the ‘90s progressed, but the remix of “Come and Talk to Me” marked the first time it happened, and it can’t be overstated how much of a revelation it was back then. It was a transformative moment in R&B and hip-hop, and set the stage for the phase during which new jack swing became “hip-hop soul”.