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Strictly Soul

June 23, 2010

One of those days, one of those days… Before I started the zine or working for Bearded Magazine or even flexing my linguistic muscles within strict word counts (basically before I got distracted by Guns N’ Roses), I listened almost exclusively to soul music. Neo soul music – not that ‘neo’ was ever a term I could get to grips with.  Sure, I had an angsty period in my teens when I wore chokers and a fake lip piercing, ‘trashing’ my room to Skunk Anansie and Marilyn Manson. (Y’know I threw a few pillows around – I didn’t want to break anything and get in trouble).

I digress. It all started with a free CD that came with my dad’s subscription to Q magazine. This same CD had Lewis Taylor’s ‘Damn’ and D’Angelo’s ‘Cruisin’ on it. Back then of course VH1 was still a music channel and it was there that I first saw Erykah’s ‘On & On’ video, Maxwell, Jill Scott and the unforgettable Me’Shell NdegéOcello. I remember discovering Kedar Massenburg in the linear notes and I would spend hours in my local shopping centre’s few music shops scouring albums for his name. And as I was still living in Hamburg at the time, I thank my lucky stars that D’Angelo’s only Germany show on his Voodoo tour was in my city. That is still without a shadow of doubt, one of my most memorable gigs ever.

Up until about 2005, soul music for me could do no wrong. While studying journalism, I did my first bit of work experience with Echoes magazine, where I had the chance to interview Kindred The Family Soul (Aja talked about being pregnancy partners with Ursula Rucker),  N’dea Davenport and The Brand New Heavies. But at this point, soul music seemed to lose its spark, I don’t know whether my enthusiasm had just naturally began to wane or whether the music itself just wasn’t bringing it anymore but, not long after this, my compulsion to follow the genre ended.

With the advent of MySpace, I did find a few artists who seemed to be stepping up the game, most notable J*Davey. Rather than falling down the ‘grown and sexy’ hole that seemed to be sucking up so many of my favourites, they embraced the, at the time, current wave of mainstream electronica and made it young and new again. Needless to say, I bought their first album directly off them over the internet. I’m aware that there are quite a few artists out there now who are in a similar boat but I’d be lying if I said they captured my imagination in the same way. For me the golden era was at the turn of the millenium (maybe a few years each way), shit hot albums were dropping left, right and centre and I was burning up my ears with Mama’s Gun, Voodoo, Bilal’s 1st Born Second, Jaguar Wright’s Denials Delusions and Decisions – the list goes on…

But call it neo, nu, organic, conscious, electro, drrty – when it’s good, it’s too good. Today is one of those days where I can’t get enough and so PUB.lication has put together a mammoth Spotify list of 160 of the sickest, dopest, flyest soul tracks that came out between 1990 and 2010.

Click the Erykah mural above for the playlist link!

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