16 Songs, 1 Hour 17 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sapphire is an album of unusual passion, even by Teena Marie’s standards. Released late in her career, it can be seen as an artistically successful attempt to blend contemporary hip-hop with her trademark brand of steamy soul. Marie proves her sure grasp of hypnotic grooves and sensual lyricism on smoldering jams like “Ooh Wee,” “Somebody Just Like You” and “Ecstasy.” On “Make it Hot” and “Ladies Choice,” she recalls the teasing funk that made her ‘80s hits like “Square Biz” so influential. Smokey Robinson’s duet vocals on “God Has Created” and “Cruise Control” add to the album’s lushly romantic mood. The most devastating track here is “You Blow Me Away,” an incandescent tribute to Teena’s mentor Rick James, who passed away in 2004. Marie pours out her sense of loss and longing on this tune, ending with a confession of pure love. Nearly as affecting is “Resilient (Sapphire),” a poetic meditation on mortality sung with daughter Alia Rose. Sapphire is one of the neglected gems in Marie’s catalog, mature in conception but filled with youthful fire.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sapphire is an album of unusual passion, even by Teena Marie’s standards. Released late in her career, it can be seen as an artistically successful attempt to blend contemporary hip-hop with her trademark brand of steamy soul. Marie proves her sure grasp of hypnotic grooves and sensual lyricism on smoldering jams like “Ooh Wee,” “Somebody Just Like You” and “Ecstasy.” On “Make it Hot” and “Ladies Choice,” she recalls the teasing funk that made her ‘80s hits like “Square Biz” so influential. Smokey Robinson’s duet vocals on “God Has Created” and “Cruise Control” add to the album’s lushly romantic mood. The most devastating track here is “You Blow Me Away,” an incandescent tribute to Teena’s mentor Rick James, who passed away in 2004. Marie pours out her sense of loss and longing on this tune, ending with a confession of pure love. Nearly as affecting is “Resilient (Sapphire),” a poetic meditation on mortality sung with daughter Alia Rose. Sapphire is one of the neglected gems in Marie’s catalog, mature in conception but filled with youthful fire.

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