Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It

Touring with Prince, working with a gold and platinum selling band (Tony!,Toni!,Tone!), three solo albums, collaborating with Stevie Wonder, and a host of others, Raphael Saadiq has accomplished more in his 20 year recording career than what most artists dream of. On his latest release, The Way I See It, we discover him looking to the past, to the classic soul sounds of the 1960's. I've been hearing tracks from this cd floating around for some time, but I had to figure out...why did he choose to go to the 60's era of Amy Winehouse, oops, I mean the Motown era...?

Aside from being a true product of the classic soul sound himself, he also stated, via, that while spending time travelling across the world, nearly everyone he came across was listening to the sounds of Motown and northern soul, thus influencing this album. So, I figured, hey, if he can better reach the world by going this route then more power to the brother...he also did a great job doing it.

On this release, Saadiq effortlessly jumps into character on each and every track, channeling the likes of the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, even Al Green, while cross-pollinating Stax, Motown, Hot Wax and Invictus record labels all in one 13 track nostalgic medley of vintage numbers, complete with the tight instrumentation and songwriting Raphael has been known for.

From the swinging Temps vibe of Keep Marchin', to another one of my favorites, Big Easy featuring New Orleans supergroup, The Rebirth Brass Band, Raphael manages to capture the vibe without sounding cheesy or overproduced. Oh Girl opens with sprinkled keys, guitar strums, and bells, but the snapping drums will definitely be a favorite for the producers and beat makers out there..I'm sure this track is being chopped up as we speak...there is also a "take 2" version featuring Jay-Z (I prefer the take 1 version myself). I would have to say that my favorite track is Never Give You Up featuring guest vocalist Charles "CJ" Hilton with none other than Stevie Wonder on harmonica, both coupled with the string arrangements and harp instrumentation that make this track come alive with a Marvin Gaye feel that you just can't front on.

I give this album a 6 out of 7 head nods, only losing one nod/point for timing. I feel that this release, post Winehouse may (or may not) catch a deaf ear to many fans and would-be fans, but that's just my opinion. I've had to check myself on a few occasions and remember that classic soul is and will remain an integral part of black music culture no matter how often it may be duplicated and imitated. The "anti-bandwagon" in me is like a defense mechanism at times (lol).

At the end of the day, this is a great album done by one of the absolute best producers of our time who is simply paying tribute to the mavericks of music and entertainment that paved the way for him and us: the musicians, singers, producers, deejays of today...a dedication for our parents and grandparents who also passed it on to us...I do know that I'll be passing this album on to my folks...360°.

Please excuse my wordiness on this one,
Junior Star

*Head Nod Scale
1=Don't waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there's "two and a possible".
5=It's a "good" album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the "Rewind Factor" more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic.


Blogger ChocLitLuvJoi said...

I too dig the album. It’s a 6/7 indeed. The feel good, let’s hang out, snap our fingers, and groove in the basement feel of the album is still very relevant, and much needed. He did capture an era with the album, but as does everything else, it may be making a steady come back. Not just the samples that artists do here and there; but the complete feel of an entire album. He does it seemingly effortlessly, and is very believable in his musical nostalgia. As a lover of Amy Winehouse, I don’t think that this is particularly comparable to her, nor will it affect the probability of his fans seeking it out. Due to his longevity/credibility, I agree that classic soul will prevail regardless of the different spins artists put on it. Someone’ll appreciate it in their own way, unless it just really sucks! My fav track is Just One Kiss ft. Joss Stone. I appreciate the passion she captures in her delivery, and the way they mesh well together. The song evokes memories of the bandstand era with great live performances. The words of the song don’t hurt either. Anywho…great review! Nuff respect.

December 3, 2008 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Ms.BeatJunkie!!! said...

"He did capture an era with the album, but as does everything else, it may be making a steady come back. Not just the samples that artists do here and there; but the complete feel of an entire album. He does it seemingly effortlessly..." <<< I so co-sign that! Not sure if anyone else could have pulled this off but Raphael.

December 16, 2008 at 3:22 PM  

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