Tag: Neo Soul

2016, Music

Coloring Book (2016) by Chance the Rapper

I must admit that I have no idea what differentiates a mixtape from an album when everything is digital. Is it aesthetic? Is there some aesthetic thing here I’m missing that makes this a mixtape not an album? I’m sure there is.

2016, Music

“Awaken, My Love!” (2016) by Childish Gambino

I am familiar with Donald Glover primarily from Community. More recently I have begun (slowly) watching Atlanta and we briefly started Mr. and Mrs. Smith. What I’m saying is I know him entirely as an actor. I think I may have heard one of his hits at some point but I don’t remember which song …

1996, Music

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996)

So full disclosure: I barely remembered Maxwell’s existence when this anniversary came up. I knew the name but I couldn’t even tell you what kind of R&B he was associated with. I now understand that what he’s doing on this record was distinct from the dominant form of R&B at the time but, all these …

1995, Music

Soul Food (1995) by Goodie Mob

So record that has a song that lent its name to a style of music is probably a pretty deal, right? “Dirty South” has become the name of a sub-genre of hip hop, sometimes considered synonymous with southern hip hop, sometimes not, which was a pretty big deal at some point. So I feel safe …

1995, Music

Gangsta’s Paradise (1995) by Coolio

Coolio’s debut pleasantly surprise me if only because all I knew of him were the hits from this album, and I was surprised by sense of humour and his self-awareness, things that I didn’t know he had. But that very thing that I found really endearing on his debut – which I otherwise found too …

2000, Music

Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1

I don’t know if I can tell you who Jill Scott is, but I can tell you what she is: she’s ambitious. Scott wants us to both accept her as a very talented singer and a poet. That’s something very few people can pull off.

1995, Music

Brown Sugar (1995) by D’Angelo

So I sat down to write this thinking I was going to write something and then I skimmed some reviews and saw this record categorized as “smooth soul” and it got me thinking: this record sure didn’t strike me as “slick” or “smooth” when I listened to it. Why did it strike others that way?

2000, Music

Like Water for Chocolate (2000) by Common

I’m sure I’ve heard a hip hop album quite like this, and I mean that as a compliment. I’ve heard music by some of the participants but I don’t know if I’ve quite heard something this clearly hip hop (as opposed to neo soul) which had such a neo soul feel, and lyrics which mostly …

2000, Music

Voodoo (2000) by D’Angelo

I heard so much about this album that I was bound to be disappointed. I had read really positive reviews but also multiple friends of mine told me it was a great album and at least one of these people was not an R&B connoisseur. (Meaning I should take his opinion even more seriously.)

1999, Music

Kaleidoscope (1999) by Kelis

I remember when I first heard “Caught Out There”. I didn’t swear at the time, but imagine it was the polite equivalent of “What the fuck?!?” And I’m sorry to say that was basically the last time I thought about Kelis (whose name I thought was pronounced “Kell Es”). And listening to this record, that …

1994, Music

CrazySexyCool (1994) by TLC

I was 13 when this came out but I was already sort of aware of manufactured pop music. I already sort of got that the Monkees hadn’t evolved like the other bands I listened to, and I was sort of aware that some of the oldies music I listened wasn’t made the same way. I …

1998, Music

Dearest Christian, I’m So Very Sorry for Bringing You Here. Love, Dad (1998) by PM Dawn

I have long had a particular impression of 1990s R&B, an impression formed in high school when subjected to Boyz II Men and whatever else. Even with all the listening to ’90s R&B I’ve been doing lately, encountering all sorts of things I never thought I’d listen to, I still haven’t been able to muster …

1993, Music

Plantation Lullabies (1993) by Me’Shell NdegéOcello

It’s hard not be impressed by the ambition of this debut; NdegéOcello seems to want to do everything within the R&B spectrum and, at times, it feels like she might succeed. She’s like a female Terence Trend D’Arby with more of a jazz and hip hop influence and a better sense of rhythm but with …

1998, Music

Aquemini (1998) by OutKast

When I was in first year university Stankonia was everywhere. I would walk down the hall and hear it. It was blaring so loud in my neighbour’s room that first semester I couldn’t escape it. Worse, it wasn’t really Stankonia, it was just the hits: “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Ms. Jackson” and “B.O.B.” just playing …

1998, Music

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

So, full disclosure: Hip hop is not my thing and most contemporary R&B and neo soul is, as far as I know, not my thing. But this record was a big deal at the time and is arguably still quite a big deal today. As far as I can tell, Hill has written a pretty …

1998, Music

Black Music (1998) by Chocolate Genius

It’s pretty hard to talk about this record without talking about the title. Clearly, the title is intended as some kind of statement challenging the tendencies in media to characterize certain music as “black” music, because what’s here is, for the most part, not what would be associated with “black” music in 1998 – except …

1997, Music

The Velvet Rope (1997) by Janet Jackson

I had a very, very fixed idea of Janet Jackson before listening to that record. It was an idea essentially created by music videos (Janet Jackson is attractive) and the odd accidental radio exposure, but also created by the music industrial complex, which has generally marketed female performers in a particular way for quite a …

1991, Music

The Reality of My Surroundings (1991) by Fishbone

When I first heard Mr. Bungle, it sounded to me like it had come out of nowhere – this crazy amalgam of ska, metal video games, porn, crass humour and, as I would learn later, Frank Zappa. I was 19 (I think), and so it really, really appealed to me.