Friday Nite Spotlight: Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It

This fall, I took my city-born boyfriend from Harlem to the Washington Rainforest.

He’s 28 years old and had never been on a hike. I’m really into hiking and camping and want to slowly draw him in. So I figured that the Hoh Rainforest would be a good place to start. There is a stunning walk that takes only about an hour. The Hall of Mosses is so green and fuzzy it has an almost science fiction quality. Here’s the city boy on his first hike.

We stayed at these cozy cabins on a cliff and drove way down a long road to get to the Hall of Mosses. I wanted him to get a feel for the shady, luminescent beauty of the rainforest. Usually when we’re together we listen to the music styles we have in common – acoustic artists (Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee), hip-hop (mine’s more underground and his more commercial, but it’s all good) and dance music (we both love Girl Talk and the Diplo FabricLive remixes right now) . But this trip we had the new vintage-sounding soul album from Raphael Saadiq.

Its no-frills, romantic feel was perfectly suited to our rainy drive and walk. And just like my boyfriend, Raphael has gone from urban to organic.

Raphael Saadiq has just been nominated for 3 Grammys for this record. Best R&B album, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Vocal performance by a Duo or Group. Saadiq started his singing career off with a bang when he was chosen right outta high school to join Prince and Sheila E as a singer on their parade tour. Under the name Raphael Wiggins he sang with Tony! Toni! Tone! (his brother and cousin were in the group) for almost a decade. After that he was in a group called Lucy Pearl with Dawn from En Vogue and Ali from Tribe Called Quest. These were groups that leaned on a heavily-produced pop aesthetic.

Now out on his own, Raphael Saadiq is singing authentic sounding soul. He says he went on a trip to Europe and the Carribean Islands where everyone was playing vintage soul. So on this, his 4th album, he decided to make it all vintage-sounding soul. He says you should learn from the masters, artists whose careers lasted a long time. “While I was making the album, I watched videos by Gladys Knight & The Pips, Al Green, The Four Tops…and fused them all together.”

Here’s a taste of the incomparable Gladys Knight. A singer who could have made it all on her own but got 3 cute guys (who she changed up all the time) to sing and dance behind her. They rule!

This album, like Raphael will have a long life. It is a classic. Here’s the catchiest song on the record. “Let’s Take A Walk”.

This record by Raphael Saadiq is on DJ Michele Myers’ Top 10 of 2008. You can check out the rest of her Top 10 here. Every week she features a favorite record on her show Nite Life. The show starts Fridays at 9pm on KEXP and this album spotlight runs at midnight. Michele is also the creator/producer of KEXP Documentaries.

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