AMBASSADOR OF SOUL MUSIC

By :- tiffcho

Industry

There is something about the sound of soul music that resonates with almost everyone.  It is like soul food. It is that comforting feeling that you feel inside that places your mind and body at ease.  It is that same comfort you return back to whenever the world weighs like boulders on your shoulders – like your momma’s macaroni and cheese or that song you’ve been playing since you were twelve that always seems to lift you up.

Diplomats of soul music like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Jackie Wilson, David Ruffin and Issac Hayes are no longer here, but their musical legacy has left a blueprint for newer soul singers to follow. Raphael Saadiq has been creating his brand of soul since the days of Tony! Toni! Toné!   Even with super group Lucy Pearl, Raphael continued to carve his niche in world of R&B and soul music. 

As a solo artist Raphael has picked up the banner of soul music and has kept alive the old-school spirit of this musical genre.  The vibes of the old dearly departed masters was present in his first solo album,Instant Vintage.   Last September Raphael released The Way I See It, his third solo project.  The Way I See Itwith its heavy emphasis on 60’s and 70’s soul was a refreshing departure from the over synthesized, over sexed and under creative music that is played in heavy rotation on FM radio.  The music is timeless and reminds me of simpler times when my family got together for barbeques, held dance contests or picked up instruments and started a band to be the next  Jacksons. 

After hearing The Way I See It, I thought Raphael locked himself in a room for a few months and listened to old soul records until he had each track of the album conceived in his head.  I was surprised to learn that the inspiration actually came from South America and the Caribbean.  After taking vacations in Costa Ricaand the Bahamas, Raphael came up with the idea for his third album.  “It was more like a seed that had been planted even before I had went to the Bahamas,” he says. “But when I got there it just kinda confirmed what I was thinking because I was hearing music.  I would be coming out of the water and music would be on.”  Raphael stated that upon the return of his trip he immediately went into “work mode.”  After hearing the completed project friends of his told him he had been talking about doing music like this for a while. “I don’t really remember this but people I talk to say, ‘you were talking about it,’ and I usually do talk about things that I wanna do.  In this event it was a guy that used to wash my car and he’s a percussion player and we would talk about music a lot.  I told him that I kinda wanna do something not like Motown, but that had the good spirit and energy of those times.”

Raphael says that as a kid that he would sneak and listen to his sister’s Stevie Wonder records.  On this album Raphael featured Stevie Wonder on “Never Give You Up” a fact that still amazes him.  “He was the candle on top of the cake.  It was more than him playing harmonica on the record, it was the light he brought to the room,” he says.  “He made me feel good about what I was doing.  When I hear that record today and when I’m talking him up and say ‘Stevie Wonder’ it feels like such an accomplishment.”   Having Stevie Wonder on his record made him realize that if you love something, work hard at it and persevere through the hard times, you will be able to achieve what you want.   

Although the title The Way I See It was not necessarily the title Raphael wanted, he says that it “just came to him” and had thought of other titles to try to encapsulate the feeling he was trying to achieve. He admits that once he heard the album he was happy that he stuck with the original title.

“This album has been a revelation for me because I see a lot of parents out with their kids sharing and enjoying the music.  I always had this thing where I just didn’t want to make music that was just for a club.  I like to say I make ‘household music.’ That has been the music I’ve always known.”

Raphael told me that he did not make this album for the radio and after hearing the album in its entirety you can hear just how clear that intention was.  “I just wanted to make music that would stay around for a long time,” he says.  The Way I See It will do just that and with this album Raphael has added to the blueprint of soul music that will guide future soul singers.  It is my belief that a good artist not only represents their own creativity but is also the torch bearer for those who can no longer represent their art form.  Raphael holds the torch extremely well and with singers like him representing, the flame of soul music will never flicker out.


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