I’ve heard the term neo soul before. To my ears, it mostly sounds like someone who just isn’t a hip hop or rap artist. So I was a little skeptical when I heard an NPR report describing Raphael Saadiq as a neo soul artist. The more I heard the more I realized NPR had not steered me wrong. Saadiq, the 45 year old Oakland native is all that and more. It even sounds sometimes like he uses old mix boards to record on. Arrangements, lyric, the whole vibe is a throw back and at the same time feels fresh and current. It’ really cool stuff.
Saadiq has come a long ways since his days with Tony, Toni, Tone’, to producing for Joss Stone, D’Angelo and John Legend. NPR’s story talked about how Saadiq wants his music to be found and enjoyed all everyone. Sort of in the mode of old Motown but not as contrived like sending artists to finishing school to fit into the white dominated entertainment culture of the times. Smart move then perhaps but not needed now.
The list of folks Saadiq has collaborated with is a mile long including all time greats to newcomers. If you are looking for something new that sounds old, but feels fresh all at the same time, give Raphael Saadiq a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.