One of the hottest genres on the block these days is “PBR&B,” a dark, melodic twist on classic rhythm & blues. It’s named after the so-called “hipster” lager that graces the floor of the DP office after every Street writers meeting. Faces like Frank Ocean, Miguel and The Weeknd have dominated the forefront of the subgenre by employing heavy pop influences and unconventional song structures, breaking the hearts of the Tumblr generation along the way. Now imagine those guys were abducted by aliens from their Bonnaroo tents and fused together with Justin Timberlake, and you have yourself JMSN.
Born Christian Berishaj, the Albanian–American heartthrob grew up just outside of Detroit and made music under the names Snowhite and Christian TV before becoming JMSN. His new moniker is pronounced like the whiskey, and is fitting because his music is the audio equivalent of downing a bottle of the good stuff alone while crying about your old flame, in the best way possible. But don’t just take my word for it. On the delightfully meta track “Jameson” off his debut album Priscilla, the chorus says, “I’m drinking Jameson by myself/thinking about what we could’ve had/but nothing else seems to help/everything just makes me sad.” There’s a level of relatability in his music that strikes you the second he opens his mouth, even if you’ve never been in a relationship half as destructive as the ones he describes.
The phrase “mood music” is silly, but listening to JMSN can definitely put you in a certain mind state. His ability to cover so many different moods is what makes him special. “Street Sweeper” off his latest album JMSN (The Blue Album) is powerful enough to make you propose to the next person who messages you on Tinder. “Girl I Used To Know” will have you grooving down Locust with the confidence of a freshman who just hit “submit” on their writing seminar portfolio.
And of course his signature move, the tearjerker (the best example being “Jameson Pt. II” on Priscilla) could make you so sensitive you’ll cry the next time you miss the walk light at 38th and Walnut. He might be especially good at filling one lane, but he can cover all the bases you’ll need if you dig into his discography.
You’ve heard JMSN’s voice before as long as you’re at least a casual fan of hip–hop. He has backing vocals on four tracks from Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d city, including the hit “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” He’s collaborated with Kendrick’s labelmate Ab-Soul multiple times as well, producing the track “Nibiru” and featuring on “You’re Gone” and “W.R.O.H.” He appeared on The Game’s “Pray” with J. Cole as well, proving he had the ability to adapt his sound to mainstream hip–hop without damaging either product.
Calling JMSN a darker Timberlake makes sense on a superficial level, but before writing him off as a hipster JT, it’s important to recognize how deep his talent runs. While Justin’s FutureSex/LoveSounds and The 20/20 Experience albums featured the legendary Timbaland on the boards, all three of JMSN’s projects were entirely self–produced and self–written. When you listen to one of his albums, you can instantly connect to his thought process because of how personal the final product is. In an increasingly over-saturated PBR&B market, JMSN stands out for both his raw talent and his relatability.