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The Detroit Neo-Soul singer Dwele made his debut when he entered the game with "Subject" in 2003. Although not his true debut (as he had dropped an album independently three years before), this was his first major-label deal and has him performing a mix of contemporary R&B with Funk, Jazz and Soul as the likes of D'Angelo, Erykah Badu and Musiq Soulchild have in the past.
1. "Poppa Yo" (Intro)
As we move our way on from a smooth introductory piece, we find that we're push right into something funky and engaging in order to ensure that the listeners are able to really connect with the music and get right into the mood to hear what the album has to offer them. Dwele sings in a soft and almost reserved manner and it implies that he's got much more to offer further down the line and isn't ready to just let it out at the start.
3. "Find A Way"
You get lots of pops and slaps out of the production that guides the singer for this one and I thought that it acted as a real booster to what you get from the his vocals as he appears to be more intent in showing just how far he can push his voice to bring out the most emotive things within it. It does exactly as is intended and I thought that it was helping to build the hype up on the record towards the deeper sections of it.
We have something much more experimental this time around and I felt as though it made for some relatively nice results as we see that things are brough down into a sort of jazzy feel and so something out-of-the-norm for contemporary R&B. For a Neo-Soul track, it really isn't anything too special or overly-original and so I can't say it was anything that you would need to look for, but it's a nice one.
5. "A.N.G.E.L." (Lude)
6. "Day at a Time"
Coming directly off the back of a Jazz-Funk interlude, we find ourselves greeted by a tune that has the Soul singer backed by some earthy instrumentals to really get everything out of the music as possible (by restricting the electronic input). As a result it gives off the perfect vibes that have been seen to make for the best results in Neo-Soul over the years, but I felt that the song he delivered was a little too passive to be notice amongst others from the record.
This is the titular track to the album. In it we have him trying out more original concepts and trying to show how he sets himself apart from others in the game. I have to say that I thought that he wasn't nearly as successful at this kind of thing as he went on to be, however I still thought it to be a valued inclusion on the album as he comes with a love song, but over odd, mechanical production.
8. "Sho Ya Right"
With this one you see that he's appealing right towards the mainstream as he comes out with something that would have been able to get over in the clubs if it had been put out as a single and seen the same sort of backing as others in the game were able to garner. There's lots to like about this one and ensures that you're brought back into the album after a few average ones which make you question whether this album is worth having.
9. "Money Don't Mean A Thing"
What you get from this is bound to grab your attention as the riff to it reflects TLC's "No Scrubs" and the way in which the hook is composed and then the verses leading on from it take on the same sort of late-nineties contemporary R&B structure. It haves a straight-forward mainstream sound to it and so far from what you expect of a Neo-Soul singer, but I can't say that I didn't enjoy what I got from it, but more hardcore fans may be displeased by it.
10. "Hold On"
The way that this one comes through with its pounding percussion and grungy synth ensures that you're drawn right into it from the start. From there we see that the music leads on a similar path whereby we get more of that hard stuff from him, with a contrasting approach in the way that the singer performs the lyrics. I thought that his voice was a little weak in places and so held it back, but it was still a solid tune from him.
11. "Kick Out of You"
Everything drops down for this one s we find that it begins in a minimalistic manner with very little backing him up, but as it develops you here that we get Cool Jazz instrumentals subtly supporting the vocalist in his zone as he's attempting to get things done and sing just as emotively as he has in the past, but with a song structure that's alien to the period he lives in. It wasn't my thing, but I can see where he was aiming to go with it.
12. "Without You"
Normality (for this artist) appears to be restored for this tune as we find that we're offered something much more general and a little something that doesn't require the same sort of effort to get into as the more risky and experimental ones where he trials styles which he doesn't directly have an association with. It's a very sweet love song from him and keeps the album flowing nicely for him.
13. "Whoomp" (Lude)
14. "Lady at Mahogany"
We get off a synth-driven instrumental interlude right into a track that has him going out with something extremely funky. I saw it as a killer joint from him and one that gets him showing just how well his ideas can come together at times where he tries out a range of styles at the same time and finds out just how well the juxtaposition of them all sound as a final result. It wasn't something I expected to go too well, but it stands out as the sort of thing that he would go on to do more of later on in his career.
15. "A.N.G.E.L." (Reprise)
16. "Let Your Hair Down"
After getting a funky reprise of an earlier interlude, we see that he gets right down into a tune designed to get you all loosened-up as he suddenly breaks out with some general uplifting music that takes in each and every person who comes anywhere close to it. This is just the sort of thing you want from the artist and ensures that you're taken to a place where you have no cares whatsoever at the end on the album.
Although IU must admit that I liked a lot of what we got from this album, what's found within it isn't the best he's capable of (as seen in "Sketches of a Man"). You get far too many average tunes for my liking and it pulls the record right down as a result; preventing you from really getting into the tunes which have him working to the best of his ability.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Poppa yo (intro)
3 Find a way
4 Twuneanunda (Possible)
5 ANGEL (interlude)
6 Day at a time
8 Sho ya right
9 Money don't mean a thing
10 Hold on
11 Kick out of you
12 Without you
13 Whoomp (interlude)
14 Lady at Mahogany
15 Let your hair down