Greetings beautiful people
So here is yet another list blog about soul music. I’ve given my opinion on the best & the worst, so now here are the honorable mentions. These artists don’t always have hit records, but have managed to display a degree facility in their craft, that makes them worth noting.
Cee Lo Green
Man o man, what can I say? Cee Lo has been making us think and dance since the days of Goodie Mob. He is a rapper, singer, song writer, producer, and black eccentric in the vain of Andre 3000 & Erykah Badu. He has an weird raspy voice that soars. When I hear him sing, I get the feeling that I imagine people who listen to gospel music feel. I feel anointed. Even when he’s singing “Crazy” I feel I’m in a back woods, down South, wood shack type church. I can see the big hats and fans. It’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s filled with the spirit. Aside from being with Gnarls Barkley the public still hasn’t embraced Cee Lo like I feel they should. His debut album “Cee Lo Green and his Imperfect Imperfections” was, in my opinion, every bit as good as the “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. He is a talent who brings artistry from his belly….and what a big ol belly it is.
Another one hit wonder, due to young black males feeling they have to be so street even when singing R & B. “Bed” was that joint, that put a lot of couples to bed, and made a lot of babies. After that song…nothing. All the music I’ve heard from him since then has been typical. So despite any real artistic achievements in the music industry, one thing I will say is that J. Holiday can sing. He’s arguably one of the best young vocalist to come along in years. His tone, control, and range are masterful. I hope he learns to hone his craft to make good quality music, because the world needs to hear more of him.
Corrine Bailey Rae
Yet another bad ass British chick. Corrine is so pretty and peaceful. Her music is pure sunshine to me. Her song writing chops put her up there with John Mayer and John Legend easy. Her work is difficult to describe because it’s a fusion of soul, folk, rock, and jazz. Her voice sounds just like she looks; unusually pretty. Yet strip away all those things mentioned above, the woman can sing! I mean sing sing. Listen to her music and watch the sun rise in your soul.
I went to see Donnie in NY around 2002-2003 and Anthony Hamilton opened up for him. Me and my friends had never heard of him and were ready to not be moved. By the time he was done, we were floored. This brotha has such a rich voice with feeling. He has a voice that dates back to the times of Sam Cooke and early BB King, yet his musical sensibilities are very alternative soul. It’s not neo soul. It’s not contemporary R & B. It’s not retro. Yet it’s all those things and nothing like them. I think he’s one of the best male vocalist in the music industry today.
The southern humming bird herself. Tweet has one of the coolest voices in music. I listened to “Opps Oh My” and loved it. It was a Timberland produced banger. Yet if you listen to her body of work, you will know that his woman is a beast. Her voice is sex, sadness, sass, gospel, blues, folk, pop, and most importantly soul. One of the dopest things about her music is the idiosyncratic way she layers her backing vocals. Instead a perfect choral harmony standard in pop music, she layers her vocals to sound like a group singers with various tones just accompanying a lead vocalist. They aren’t always in unison. It’s like each layer is feeling a different emotion about the same song. It’s sad that her career didn’t flourish like many others; I would love to hear her on the radio more often.
Justin Timberlake has the white guy who sings black game on lock. Robin Thicke has the white guy who can sing anything game on lock. His first album was some of most eclectic music I’ve heard collected by one artist. He went from rock, to pop, to soul, without missing a beat. All albums since the first one have primarily been soul songs with pop appeal, but Robin Thicke has great tone and control. He sings like an old school cat. Doesn’t matter if he’s black or white, he’s truly dope. He makes grown and sexy music for my generation
For Angie Stone to be getting up there in age she still makes some of the hippest and timeless music out there. This woman can write and produce a soul song so superb! I don’t think she’s made an album I didn’t think was good. I got to see her last year, and during her concert she didn’t sing one song, I didn’t know and love. She’s no Beyonce’ but she most definitely has a body of work future singers will want to cover.
Nikka what? Nikka who? Nikka Costa nigga! Lol. My bad I carried away. Pipes! This little woman can wail to the heavens. “Like a Feather” showed just how funky a white girl could be. Nikka is one of those singers I’m starting to put in the “force of nature” category. Although she has songs that are technically sung great, it’s apparent that’s not her intent overall. She has so much blues and rock in her voice. It’s got to be God given, you can’t fake that.
Lupe doesn’t sing, but he is a rappers rapper. He has mastered the art of cadence in addition to creating works that have universal pop appeal. “Kick Push”, Superstar” etc. He doesn’t get as much play as Jay Z or Drake, but no one who knows anything about hip hop would ever dispute that lyrically, flow wise, and creatively, that Lupe is a savant. He kind of gives me the vibe in hip hop what Basquiat gave me in visual art.
Her voice is as stunning as she is. Amel is an all around talent writer, singer, producer, and musician. I don’t usually like singers who do tons of runs, but Amel is the exception. While she has songs I don’t like, I will say that she’s never made anything I that doesn’t sound beautiful. Her voice alone just does it for me. It’s healing and inspiring. What a great gift to have from God.
If there was no Joi, then there would be no Erykah Badu. This is one of the greatest artist you’ve never heard of, but you’ve been hearing for years. The ex wife of Big Gipp from Goodie has sung backing vocals for Outkast, TLC, and Raphael Sadiq. She released one of the first neo soul albums way back in 1994 “Pendulum Vibe”. She can sing anything. I mean anything. Joi’s style is like a light skin Grace Jones. Her swagger is, let’s just say she was a stripper at one time and it’s apparent. Vocally I’d say she’s a contralto, but more like a contralto on nitric oxide lol. She can go Cassandra Wilson low and old Mariah high. All while singing a song about sex, God, love, and society. Google her if ya don’t know. Force of nature.
Well those are my honorable mentions. If you have anyone you think does great music but aren’t on the A-list yet feel free to chime in.
Until next time