I hate fads. They come, they go. Some stick around longer then they should. Some know their own life expectancy. This retro music fad is tired. It’s old. It’s played out. We’re going on 4 years of this stuff people! Maybe the younger generation digs it because they don’t really know about the great music from the past but like I’ve said a million times, if I wanna hear Sam Cooke, I’ll listen to Sam Cooke! Not R. Kelly trying his best to do Sam Cooke! So you could ONLY imagine my excitement when I heard that my favorite male artist, Raphael Saadiq was making ANOTHER retro album. Like “The Way I See It” wasn’t retro enough for us. Now, with all of that hate for this retro stuff out my system, how does “Stone Rollin’” stack up?
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“Stone Rollin’” plays like a time machine taking you through the different eras of soul music’s rich history. Not to mention, it could be the soundtrack to some of my favorite movies. It’s no wonder why Saadiq is the musical director for TV One’s show “Love That Girl” (even though the show sucks, the music backdrops are dope) because Saadiq is a master at capturing the feelings, emotions and soul of a specific moment in time. Listening to “Radio”, I can’t help but close my eyes and remember one of my fave movies growing up “Back to the Future” and seeing Marty on stage playing this song. “Day Dream” puts me in Rooster and PJ’s shoes from “Idlewild” and “Movin’ Down the Line” could’ve easily been the musical score in the scene from “Superfly” when Priest is explaining to Georgia his plans to get out the game while watching the kids sled in the park. And there’s absolutely no way you can listen to “Good Man” and not see Anthony from “Dead Presidents” walking the streets of New York looking for a job and bringing home the groceries while Cutty’s leaving his spot from paying Juanita and baby girl a visit. But the gem of the album to me is “Go To Hell.” Saadiq sings, ”Here’s the situation/cause the devil knows me well/see I’m trying to do my best/not to go to hell/I’m counting all my blessings/as I walk the narrow road/victory is near/that’s what I’ve been told” while the string and horn arrangements take you to another place and time. In fact, the instrumentation on the entire album is incredible and it not only showcases Saadiq’s talents as a singer and a producer but as a musician first and foremost.
In a nutshell, I can’t front…I love “Stone Rollin”, retro sound and all. Saadiq to me is one of the very few (if not the only) artists who I believe is making this kind of music because he wants to and not because it was the in thing to do. In fact, after listening to “Stone Rollin’” you’d be hard pressed to tell someone who’s never heard of Raphael Saadiq that this album was made in 2011. Not only because it sounds like it was made 30-40 years ago, but because it feels like it was made 30-40 years ago.
4.5 outta 5