As someone who has been turning to the sounds of Sixties and Seventies soul for inspiration since his days with Tony! Toni! Toné!, it must be frustrating for Raphael Saadiq to remain relatively unknown as neo-soul newcomers rack up Grammy awards and platinum records. Saadiq’s only recourse was to up the ante with The Way I See It. The album inhabits the atmosphere of late-Sixties Motown and Philadelphia International, incorporating the distinctly echo-laden drum shuffles of Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, as well as the swelling string choruses of the Delfonics and the Stylistics. The album succeeds in spite of, and perhaps because of, its blatant appropriations (listen as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is recycled twice, for “100 Yard Dash” and “Let’s Take A Walk”). Saadiq makes no secret of his reference points, and his sweet, featherweight tone keeps the album honest and fun. That isn’t to say that Saadiq can’t sing, by the way. The dreamy ballad “Oh Girl” proves that music pours from this performer as easily as it did from Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder before him.
Sure Hope You Mean It
100 Yard Dash
Big Easy (feat. The Infamous Young Spodie & Rebirth Brass Band)