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Maxwell's "Urban Hang Suite"

by Maximillian Muhammad

As a child growing up on mid to late 70s soul and early 80s grooves it can be hard to truly dig anyone as much now. However, 3 young Brothers have made a dent. They haven't allowed technology to take everything over. Tony Rich, with his acoustic and well crafted hooks, clearly owes a strong nod to R-n-B king of the day songwriter and producer, Babyface--who by chance, records for Laface records. He also happens to co-own the label. Then there's D'angelo. Imagine, if you will, a combination of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathway, and the Artist formerly known as Prince. D'angelo has been touted as the next big thing, and after a powerful beginning with da soulful "Brown Sugar," we will see.

And then there's the West Indian-Puerto Rican brother who goes by the name of Maxwell. Hard 2 believe this record was shelved for a year by Columbia, which goes 2 show what some big-wig knows about R-n-B music. If you look at the blue cover, then u already have an idea of what's on this Brother's mind. Right? Not so fast. It's a pro- one-on-one monogamy record along the same lines--if you recall--of what George Michael's "I Want your Sex" was trying to do. Cuts like "Sumthin, Sumthin," "Ascension (Don't ever wonder)," the hit of the moment, and "Till the Cops Come Knockin" take me to Marvin Gaye land, period 73 to 76. Maxwell, by the way, worked with Leon Ware, who helped produce Marvin's bedroom classic, "I Want You," an album that's some powerful stuff alone.

Echoes of Smokey Robinson with a bit of Bobby Womack action in there with Bobby's theme,, "A Woman gotta have it," even though Bobby didn't say which woman in particular... but u get the message. And yes, one artist and one record that the young but polished Mr. Maxwell checked out was Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall." One thing is for sure: He who goes by the name of King of Pop was the trail-blazer for Black pop for men and women from the '79 joint 2 the "Thriller" joint. With solid production, plenty of harmony and diverse sound and Quality, his "Off the Wall" was the bench mark. When a Brother like Maxwell says "I wanna R.O.C.K with you," you know the's got flavor and there's a genuine soul to deliver the goods.

After New Jack Swing, R-n-B was losing out to rappers, but rightfully so, 'cuz they grew up on the goods, and provided a sample or just a taste of the real thang. The hard hitting fact was that soul was tossed for cross-over. But thanks to D'angelo, Tony Rich, and Maxwell, that old flavor and feeling is just what (in the name of James) might get R-n-B back on the "Gooooooood FoooooooooT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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