Power of Soul

A slew of fall releases are worth getting excited about.

By Craig D. Lindsey
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Sep. 3, 2008

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illustration by alex fine

Maxwell is heading out on tour this fall. I guess this means hell has frozen over, pigs have learned to fly and that crazy-hot red-headed chick from Mad Men will be at my doorstep, naked, with a bowl of banana pudding, any day now.

After six and a half years of self-imposed exile, the reclusive neo-soul prince will be leaving the house (sans his notoriously woolly locks) for a "pre-party theater tour celebration" in October and November. (He'll make a stop in Philly at the Susquehanna Bank Center on Nov. 21st.) Whether this tour will usher in the first disc of Maxwell's much-anticipated trilogy of albums BLACK Summers' Night later this season remains to be seen. But hey, the man is finally showing his face in public. At this point, I'll gladly take that over some new music.

Maxwell's return to the stage is just one of many wonderful things music fans have to look forward to this fall. Oh sure, new releases from Beyonce, Ne-Yo, Jennifer Hudson, T.I., T-Pain, Big Boi, Common and maybe even Eminem are scheduled to hit record stores and Bit-Torrent sites in the coming months. But here's a rundown of releases that I know I'll have my eye on.

For me, the big soul news is the release of Raphael Saadiq's The Way I See It (Sept. 16). For the past several months, Saadiq has promised his fans an album of throwback soul, ditties that'll remind listeners of the heydays of Motown, Stax and even early Philly-sound soul. I've already heard it, and I can tell you the man does not disappoint. But since I've mentioned many times in this column how big a fan I am of Saadiq, and how I'm perfectly willing to move dead hookers from his hotel room if he ever asked me, I may be biased. Why don't you pick it up and decide for yourself?

In the white-soul section, Robin Thicke follows up the breakthrough success of his 2006 album The Evolution of Robin Thicke with Something Else (Sept. 30). Thicke has said his album will also be trafficking in retro soul, mostly dealing with '70s and '80s R&B. I'm kinda conflicted with the Thicke. I've liked the dude's work ever since his 2003 debut A Beautiful World. But since he's married to that fine-ass sista from that Deja Vu movie, I can't help but wish him nothing but pain and suffering.

Another blue-eyed soulster returning for a third go-round this fall is Nikka Costa, with her new album Pebble to a Pearl (Oct. 14). From the sounds of her sassy first single, "Stuck to You," as well as the fact that Pearl is going to drop on the Stax label, it appears Costa is also going for an old-school vibe on her latest. Well, at least she hooked up with the right people--keyboardist/?uestlove right-hand man James Poyser and legendary drummer James Gadson--for this one.

While the aforementioned artists skip into the past, Detroit's Platinum Pied Pipers hop into the future for their upcoming album Abundance (October). After sweeping many alt-soul listeners off their feet with their 2005 debut Triple P, producers Waajeed and Saadiq (no, not him, another guy) round up some up-and-coming artists (including my favorite new vocalist of the year, St. Louis' Coultrain) for another collection of Motor City future-soul.

As for hip-hop, I'm sure every hip-hop head will be waiting for Q-Tip's long-overdue sophomore effort The Renaissance (Oct. 14). For a while there fans of the Tip thought this album would fall by the wayside the same way Kamaal the Abstract, his notoriously shelved second album, did in 2002. Let's hope this album--which will reportedly feature production work from Raphael Saadiq, Mark Ronson and the late J Dilla--will see the light of day before the year's over.

As for releases with no street dates yet, Phonte of Little Brother and Dutch producer Nicolay team up once again for Leave It All Behind, the follow-up to their acclaimed 2004 release Connected, and that ever-elusive, ever-eclectic beatsmith Madlib will close out BBE Records' "Beat Generation" series with the release of his album WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip.

And finally, I couldn't end this fall music preview without mentioning Wayne Brady also has a new album titled A Long Time Coming (Sept. 16). Yes, the ad-libbing, tight outfit-wearing, is-he-gonna-have-to-choke-a-bitch? Wayne Brady will dropping some tunes. I'm guessing half that shit was made up on the spot.

Well, anyway, have a nice fall. I know I will.

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1. martina s. said... on Sep 4, 2008 at 09:29AM

“We have the same taste in music , and every week I can't wait to read your column. That said I would like to turn you on to a little known group called Ahmir. They are currently based out of Boston, and these 4 beautiful young black men are seriously talented. They have an album out called The Gift and it is great. I hope that you will at least look them up( myspace, youtube) and hopefully will share my opinion and then share your opinion with others. I would love to see these guys with a record deal they deserve and on a big arena tour one day soon. Hope I can read your opinion about them soon!”

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2. juanita beatty said... on Oct 14, 2008 at 05:14PM

“Hey! This is from Juanita, a sister from Phila., who very much appreciates the info I get from you regarding the music business. I have heard in your column about the artist Coultrain; any idea when the album drops? All I have been able to find is the song "Green" Thanks for covering real music & real artists:)”

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