W.ants W.orld W.omen
Dwele is back with a new concept album that takes the universe of Soul music topics and breaks them down to their core elements.
A new Dwele album is something that I look forward to with something approaching unreasonable enthusiasm. I have no idea why it took me so long to realize that Dwele had a new one out. I tend to subscribe to the rule that says "if news is important it will find me". I was not aware of the fact that "news" did not include "new Dwele" and that perhaps the world is too busy with other less important business. But it happened that as I was taking a look around MySpace's music section, I noticed a new song by Dwele featuring Slum Village. I immediately added the album to my eMusic "saved for later" list, and well, a month later here I am kicking myself asking why the heck I didn't get around to listening to this one sooner. As expected, it's HOT like habanero.
Ostensibly this one is a concept album broken down into three sections all corresponding to the WWW (like M.I.A., Dwele must have had the internets on the brain) but in practice it is just breaking down Soul music to its epistemological essence; Soul music is either about stuff someone wants, stuff going on in the world, or the adventures of the pursuit and loss of women. The album is therefore split into three sections corresponding to one of the "W's". The album art also describes the theme of the album quite well - presenting three different versions of Dwele: a blinged out R&B singer who bears a passing resemblance in fashion to Will.I.Am, a boardroom ready Dwele, and finally a "ready to get the ladies" stripped down Dwele ala DeAngelo.
The first "W" on the album is "Wants" and the opening intro actually sets the tone for the album and serves as a song on its own as well. So what does Dwele want? Well, apparently Dwele wants the ladies to be horny and want him, and he wants to have things. "I Wish" is a gem of a song that has a nice "Death Row" style beat just done up a bit more R&B with some sparse piano keys that are funking great.
I wish had a dollar for every dollar you think I have
I wish I had them gucci shoes inside a gucci bag
I wish I made music that appeals to the masses
Instead of lyrics that require poetic classes
"Grown" reminds me a DJ Quick beat for some reason, just slowed down a bit so that it can be more an R&B jawn. It's refreshing to hear a song about appreciating a grown woman given that so much of popular music these days is about the over-sexualization of teens and pre-teens.
Can't decide if it's your lips or hips that keeps my vision on you 'cause you so grown
The "Wants" section of the album is the strongest although there are a couple of standout tracks in the "World" and "Women" sections as well. In particular the previously mentioned Slum V. featuring track "How I Deal". It's always great to have Dwele and Slum Village on the same track. It seems to me that Dwele should consider making himself a full-fledged member of the group or that at least they should make an entire album together. This one was a slow-burn for me. It took me a few listens before I could really appreciate it because the beat is so sparse (think Clipse's Grindin but smoothed out).
So had planned
To become a man
My momma was sayin
Boy you be playin
And I was a player
But I changed it all for you
See, I was employed
But not today
See Bush came and made all that go away
Now I'm the crib with the fakest grin
Waiting for Obama to kick in
Dwele seemed more convincing to me talking about his desires than his world view. The "World" section is executed most elequently on "How I Deal" and on the equally impressive (though in a more Jazz'ed out way) "Detroit Sunrise". The "Women" part of the album is the least interesting just because of how stale the topics are, but hey this is a Soul music record. The music is always tops though, and even the flat songs are more musical and better written from a lyrical standpoint than most radio music. The song titles in this section literally tell you what the song is about; "Love You Right" is about how Dwele's gonna love you right, "What's Not To Love" is Dwele telling a woman to have more self-esteem, "Give Me A Chance" is about...well, you get it.
Dwele's blend of Soul, R&B, Jazz, and Hip-Hop remains compelling to me as ever and breaking the genre's subjects down is a fantastic idea for an album. The album falters a bit from a lyrical perspective in the "Women" section (ironic since that is the bread and butter of Soul music) but never from a musical perspective but I admire Dwele's music and am saddened that "lyrics that require poetical classes" do not appeal to masses. If so, it probably wouldn't have taken me so long to find out about the album.
4.286 out of 5
|1. Wants (intro) (01:20)||5|
|2. I Wish (03:07)||5|
|3. Grown (03:48)||4|
|4. Dodgin' Your Phone (feat. David Banner) / Smoke Up the Back (feat. Raheem DeVaughn) (interlude) (05:39)||4|
|5. Dim the Lights (feat. Raheem DeVaughn) (04:32)||3|
|6. World (intro) (01:07)|
|7. How I Deal (feat. Slum Village) (03:42)||5|
|8. Hangover (03:06)||4|
|9. My People (04:27)||5|
|10. Detroit Sunrise (feat. Monica Blaire & Lloyd Dwayne) (03:36)||5|
|11. Women (intro) (feat. Kindra Parker) (00:40)|
|12. I Understand (04:34)||4|
|13. Love You Right (03:49)||5|
|14. "More Than A" (interlude) (00:45)|
|15. What's Not to Love (03:25)||4|
|16. Give Me a Chance (03:38)||3|
|17. I Wanna (feat. DJ Quik) (04:16)||4|