Ready, Reset, Go

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 18 | Posted Oct. 5, 2010

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“They definitely marketed me more on the fact that I was a black woman from Philadelphia coming out in the year 2001 when this neo-soul thing was hot,” she says. “I think they pushed that card a lot more than they should have, because my music was not even close to any of the artists I was being compared to, like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Alicia Keys.”

But the racial fault line in American radio runs deep.

“You’d think if you’re putting me in with Maxwell and Musiq Soulchild, you could get me on R&B radio, but my songs weren’t R&B enough,” she says. Meanwhile, it wasn’t peddled to pop and rock stations.

“They have statistics like, how do females do in rock radio? A song won’t get added to rock radio if you’re a female because they say it doesn’t work, that people don’t like women rock songs. People break it down to numbers. It’s a business. How many black female artists who don’t do R&B win? You can count them on your hand. Therefore how many labels are going to pay for you to go there?”

Res’ former collaborator Santigold hit a similar wall performing her own material. “It’s totally racist,” Santi notoriously told Lipster in 2008 about press calling her work R&B. “Everyone is just so shocked that I don’t like R&B. Why does R&B keep coming into my interviews? It’s pissing me off.”

In reality, How I Do is much closer in style and sound to Gwen Stefani: Top 40-friendly pop pinned down by diverse beats and bass lines, drawing from a patchwork of styles.

“I always felt like a neo-soul fraud,” says Res.

Res was determined to come even back harder on a follow-up record.

“In the big picture, 300,000 is great for a new artist but for being on a major label, it isn’t so great. It’s not even gold yet,” says Res. “So I felt I could improve.”

This time out, the singer had to learn to write her own songs.

“When I came into the industry, I was like, ‘I’m a singer, I just want to sing.’ The singers I like…Aretha, Etta James, Lena Horne, they don’t really write. That was my angle,” she says.

Writing her own songs made Res less beholden to specific producers and writers and, feeling the tremors of the incipient industry quakes, it was wise to whittle down the number of people you had to rely on. It was tough to write her first song with everyone watching, waiting. The spotlight was trained on a skill Res wasn’t even sure she possessed yet.

“It was very intimidating because I really love Santi’s songwriting,” Res says. “I wanted my songs to be as good, if not better.”

As Res had her head down working on her sophomore effort, MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records. She was one of about 100 artists who were spared, and was assured that despite label politics and industry changes she was still a priority.

“I still felt good about my situation. I had Mick Gzowski mixing [my record]. He mixed Michael Jackson’s Thriller, OK?”

Meanwhile, head honches were whizzing in and out the door. Then came Ron Fair.

“It wasn’t until I was done with my album and mixing it and realized they weren’t doing the necessary steps into putting this album out.”

Fair is a music-industry Midas known for flipping acts—mostly glam-bot girls and saccharine girl groups—into mainstream superstars. He’s done it with Christina Aguilera, Fergie and Keyshia Cole.

“[Fair] was like, ‘I’ve got a list of people I need to put out before you. Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am, Christina,” says Res. “All these projects! I [thought,] that equals four years of shit you need to put out before mine.”

It had been five long years since her debut. The sophomore album was finished but just sitting there, stalled.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. Anonymous said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 06:26AM

“Thank you! Great Article on Indie Artist -Res ! I love the Philly music scene but it seems like the RB aspect gets all the love thanks for showing that Black.Girls.Rock!
Cant wait to check out Res at Silk City”

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2. Anonymous said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 06:55AM

“I've been listening to her for years, and I love her sound and style. It's good to see her getting some love around here.”

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3. tayyib said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 08:00AM


Go! Boo!”

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4. Drumaddict said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 08:27AM

“I personally got to work hang and tour w Resee in her LA beach days and just last week on my NY visit I saw her throw down in Brooklyn plus a couple months back at the temple bar. One artist /friend where I always bring atleast 5 cats w me. By the end of the night they buy her album and I say "I told you so" ;) and I will support my DIY girl always. This article is amazing - well deserved and Reset is going to be off the hook! I'm so very proud of u. Props to the Writer Tara M. foo ;)”

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5. shellyshell said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 10:56AM

“I have been a Fan of Res for a while, loved her first album, look foward to her new album . Hope Philly Weekly will keep her fans info about her shows in philly, will be check her out at silk city on sunday”

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6. HOUSE OF VIBE said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 12:43PM

“YEA GIRL....LET'S PUT THE BAND BACK TOGETHER!!! RES AND HOUSE OF VIBE BACK ON IT AGAIN !!”

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7. Anonymous said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 01:32PM

“awesome article. dope artist. glad to see indie folks who are doing it the unconventional way getting shine. i'll definitely be at RESET on sunday and you should too.”

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8. Preach Jacobs said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 02:15PM

“great article about a great artist. i look forward to her being back on a major getting the massive attention she so clearly deserves.”

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9. Tasha from LA said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 03:28PM

“Love Res ...so glad to see she is moving around out there ..... I still rock How I Do everyday ..... and BLACK.GIRLS.ROCK! her 2nd album makes me smile ..... Idle Warship keeps me grooving ..... Hey Res you need any help I will do it for FREE to see you get what you deserve .... A true artist !!!!!!!! Glad to hear you went home to create ... I know it will be dope ..... Keep us posted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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10. Rah M. Sungee said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 04:56PM

“great article, hard struggles and hard work will only yield great success in the future. the universe is based on balance! keep the music coming.”

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11. Michael Bell Sr. said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 05:29PM

“Great article,It made her real. I say that because she never has gotten the publicity she rightfully deserves. You know, enough so that you could feel her,connect. I first saw her years ago on the HBO show Reverb along with Craig David and Sunshine Anderson. She was a breath of fresh air because she had found and was in her own lane. I appreciated her creativity, her strength as an artist and naturally as a person which she has proven by being able to weather the storm. I must admit, I was a bit concerned about her at one point in her career. I thought she was about to walk away from what she had already accomplish but, she didn't. Now that I have read this article, I now know that needn't be a concern any more.
I love her and I'm very proud of her for getting back to the reason she sings.
Thank you for such an insightful article”

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12. Taj said... on Oct 6, 2010 at 10:06PM

“I can't wait to see where her grind will take her, and I`ll definitely be following along the way. Don`t leave us hanging, PW - I want to hear more!”

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13. Cooke said... on Oct 7, 2010 at 12:04PM

“Great article tara - feel like I know the artist thru your writing. Really shows be thankful what you have at the time. I wish her success!”

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14. Priceless Hustle said... on Oct 7, 2010 at 06:22PM

“great article about a great artist. and she's looking beautiful as usual...cant wait until RESet...hope to see her featured more in the future...RES, keep doin ya thing..for us!”

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15. Jay said... on Oct 13, 2010 at 04:54PM

“Loved Black.Girls.Rock and it was pretty sweet to buy the CD directly from the artist. Had a fab time at her Atlanta gig just wish it had been longer!”

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16. akandabody said... on Oct 15, 2010 at 12:18AM

“I'm so happy to hear that Res is taking charge "making herself comeback", as supposed to "making a comeback", if you will. Not only do i enjoy your music, but i appreciate how you are showing other young African American girls that by being determined and taking initiative you can do and be whatever you want in this world. Of course I have to close by saying Black. Girls. Rock. What u didn't know!!!”

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17. Anonymous said... on Oct 19, 2010 at 06:11AM

“I've loved Res' work from the beginning. I'm already on my second Black.Girls.Rock cd because I scratched the first one from listening to it so much. I saw her at SouthPaw in Brooklyn last year, and at Blue Note the year before. If I wasn't living in NY I'd be at Rest every week. She is a great artist you is incredibly underrated. Show your support, buy her records and t-shirts on her website and go see her weekly shows.”

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18. Anonymous said... on Dec 9, 2010 at 10:14AM

“Res is going to be at Whole Foods Market in Jenkintown this Friday, December 10th from 7-8:30pm for a CD Release Party. Come meet Res, see a live performance, and enjoy wine and cheese. CDs on sale now and at the door! For more info visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/jenkintown or call 215-481-0800”

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