Those who know, been knew. I didn’t write this piece to say that there was a collective lack of love for the singer, songwriter, and producer Raphael Saadiq. Even if you’re not aware of who he is, I can guarantee, that somewhere through the years you’ve come to love his sound. This multi-instrumental musician has worked alongside many greats including Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, D’Angelo, Earth, Wind & Fire, and a plethora of other artist.
My Saturday mornings are often spent cleaning and cooking breakfast while reviewing new albums that dropped the previous week. It was a pleasant surprise to hear Saadiq’s familiar crooning on the opening track to Rick Ross’s new album “Rather You Than Me”. His first solo album “Instant Vintage” is always in regular rotation, but it was refreshing to hear Ross include Saadiq in modern hip hop while still allowing him to flourish in his natural form.
In a time where everything retro is reborn into collective coolness, it seems odd that Raphael Saadiq seems to be missed in the collective praise of all things 90s. My childhood was highlighted by the soulfulness of Lucy Pearl. When the group inevitably went their separate ways I was distraught about all the amazing sounds we would never get from them again. One of my favorite remixes ever came from Ludacris, when he featured him on the remake of “Splash Waterfalls”. It took the notoriously playful Ludacris track and flipped it into something that could create a vibe of lit candles and incense smoke wafting through the air.
He has been nominated for 15 Grammys and has only won one for his work as a songwriter on Erykah Badu’s “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)”. Not only has he been socially ignored but the industry has slighted him time and time again. But Saadiq doesn’t care. His talent and style are recognizably authentic. In step with many of the R&B soul artists of the 90s, he’s living a reclusive lifestyle. I found myself wondering if he was married. Curious to know who an artist with so much depth would share their life with, I went to Google only to find there was very little information on his personal life. A quality I find admirable in this time of selling less of your work and more of your lifestyle.
For me, Raphael Saadiq and his music represent a fading time and space. Where good music was about the lyrics, chords, arrangements, and emotion of a song. R&B today is lacking. Lacking love, lacking soul, lacking heart. We have all of this and more with Saadiq, his production style can make you dance all day or leave you yearning all night.
It’s still cool to feel something, hearing him on Ross’s “Apple of my Eye” made me feel a lot of things. Mainly nostalgia, but through reflection it transformed into appreciation, for an artist we should all show a little more love for.