Smooth: 10 Definitive Neo-Soul Tracks
Nearly 12 years after the release of Voodoo, Michael Eugene Archer, better known for his stage name, D'Angelo, has emerged out of his self-imposed exile. After doing battle with drugs and alcohol for a decade, last week the singer kicked off a European tour entitled The D-Tour, for his first live performances since 2000. If you haven't seen the videos, the guy seems to have legitimately turned a corner -- he's back to a reasonable weight, for one thing -- and the handful of shows he's done have been full of new songs that are proof the singer hasn't missed a beat.
With ?uestlove reporting to Pitchfork that D'Angelo's new album, over 10 years in the making, is 97 percent done, there seems to be enough cause to feel good about soul music again. That being said, we compiled ten must-haves from the '90s boom to hold you over.
And please, let us know of any oversights in the comment section.
10. "Soul Sista," Bilal
Bilal's an often forgotten face from the Neo-Soul generation. He never had a Top 40 hit, and he sold the fewest number of records among the major players of era. Bilal found his niche somewhere between R&B and hip-hop, not close enough to either to claim a definitive genre, and cashed in on the revitalized soul sound to modest success.
9. "Still Ray," Raphael Saadiq
No Neo-Soul retrospective is complete without Saadiq. After the break up of Tony! Toni! Toné!, he disappeared from the public eye, and spent his time as a producer and session guitarist. When his first solo album, Still Ray, hit shelves in '02, gems like the title track announced the gospedelic return of a soul pioneer.
8. "You Got Me," The Roots
Things Fall Apart was the best of both worlds for the Philly natives: not only was it the band's most critically acclaimed album, but soul-tinged tracks like "You Got Me" made it one of their most commercially successful as well.
7. "(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow," Tony! Toni! Toné!
Tony! Toni! Toné! was doing Neo-Soul way before the movement took off in 1995. The Oakland trio, led by Raphael Saadiq, achieved only moderate fame during their early-'90s tenure, but without classic tracks like "(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow" the idea for a R&B re-genesis may have never crept into the heads of guys like Maxwell or D'Angelo
6. "Aquemini," OutKast
It's a stretch, we know. But when the Atlanta hip-hop duo released Aquemini in 1998, Andre 3000 was in the thick of an affair with Soulquarian Erkyah Badu, and her influence is all too evident on this deep track. The sulking, understated guitar loop and heavy R&B vibe make the music sound like a long lost Badu take, and adds up to one of legendary group's most diversified songs.