Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ album review

Oakland native Raphael Saadiq aka Charles Ray Wiggins has just released his fourth album, Stone Rollin,’ and already I can predict more additions to his previously astonishing twelve Grammy nominations. Two years in the making, this is his most outwardly aggressive venture. Aesthetically, Saadiq is about as threatening and aggressive as a kitten on Oxycodone, though his smooth retro-crooning might have similar effects on humans if only he was more recognized.

Alas, Saadiq has been largely under appreciated by the masses, yet never by the critics. Stone Rollin’ truly deserves high praise. As is true with all Saadiq tracks, the ones found here blend inconspicuously on any iTunes genius playlist song after song alongside legendaries like Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke and Stevie Wonder. Unsuspecting listeners could undoubtedly confuse him for a 1970’s soul artist.

From the effervescent opening track “Heart Attack” to the lengthy yet worthwhile slow-jam closer “The Answer,” Raphael Saadiq captivates with an explosive vortex of light, relatable and simple pop music, the kind that is complicated to write and inexplicably easy to listen to. On the single “Radio,” Saadiq conveys the metaphoric message of a boy-meets-music-seduction with a bubbly surf-rock backdrop. “Radio” is a standout amongst gems, the big prize at the end of the Indian Jones quest, and the first of two where the title phrase is used within the song.

Raphael Saadiq is the best at what he does and Stone Rollin’ along with the entirety of his discography is a prime example of just that. He does not rip-off artists, he is an homage of originality, one piece of the genre puzzle. He is the future of his own idols, the only man I can think of that has the potential to command the respect of our impatient, over-caffeinated generation in the same way that Marvin Gaye commanded respect from his audience for nearly three decades.

The true test of a musician, Saadiq crosses over and mutates on a single album, from the bluegrass-jazz metamorphosis of “Day Dreams” to the sugar-pie-honey-bunch tranquility of “Movin’ Down The Line.” Saadiq is stone rolling times two.

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