Power of Soulchild

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Musiq Soulchild wants to "reintroduce himself" to the listening public. Some people may think this a good thing, considering it's been four years since the Philly-born 29-year-old soulster has released an album. I'm sure many fans have pondered the man's whereabouts. But I'm nervous. Whenever performers "reintroduce" themselves, it's usually to introduce audiences to a sound that's more mainstream. Notice how former hippie girl Nelly Furtado "reintroduced" herself last year as a tight jeans/hooker heels-wearing bad girl who sang about being "Promiscuous" instead of flying away like a bird or some shit like that.

But since Musiq hasn't been one in dire need of a widespread fan base (after all, his first two albums Aijuswanaseing and Juslisen did go platinum), Musiq assures me he won't be ripping off his shirt and rubbing baby oil all over his chest in the near future. He's simply in reacquainting mode, getting himself back into public consciousness now that he finally has LuvanMusiq hitting stores March 13.

With this album Musiq says he'll be giving listeners a performer who pushes himself more creatively. He's bringing back his stage surname Soulchild, which he dropped after his first album. While it's been reported he dropped the moniker because he felt he hadn't yet mastered his craft, Musiq (real name: Talib Johnson) says he's reviving the name to show his two sides: business and artistic.

"Musiq is for commercial viability," he says. "That's just the record-industry poster child, basically. Soulchild, the purpose behind that, is more to inspire some creative substance, to continue a legacy that's been made before me by the greats, and having little concern about being on radio or TV or even making money."

LuvanMusiq, which includes production work from Raphael Saadiq, Warren "Baby Dubb" Campbell and longtime collaborators Ivan "Orthodox" Barias and Carvin "Ransum" Haggins, marks the first album Musiq will be dropping for Atlantic Records. But even though his previous three albums were released on Def Jam's R&B; offshoot Def Soul, Soulchild's move was influenced by loyalty rather than bad blood. When Kevin Liles made the bounce from executive vice president of the Island Def Jam Music Group to executive vice president of the Warner Music Group, he asked Musiq to go along with him.

"He's the one who signed me," says Musiq. "So by moving over to Warner, he wanted to still be involved with my career. He'd be a better service if I were closer to him. I can't be mad at that, because he was the one who helped me in the beginning."

Liles made an arrangement with Island Def Jam heads Antonio "L.A." Reid and Shawn Carter that made Musiq's leap from Def Soul to Atlantic amicable and drama-free--a rarity in today's music industry.

To trumpet Musiq's resurfacing, the first single off the new album "Buddy" has already hit the airwaves. Using the same thumping sample De La Soul used for their own "Buddy" nearly 20 years ago, he provides us with another radio-friendly ditty about courting a honey.

The song isn't unlike his first single off Aijuswanaseing, "Just Friends (Sunny)," only this time faster-paced and hip-hop-inspired. At first the song kinda sounds like an R. Kelly tune, but since the singer doesn't sing about a pear-loving fat girl named Bridget who enjoys sex with midgets, having sex in the kitchen or how his dick is a remote control, you get the idea it's someone else real quick.

And that someone is Musiq Soulchild, reintroducing himself.

Musiq Soulchild plays Wed., Feb. 14, 8pm. $25-$27. Theater of Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011. www.livenation.com

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