Dwele "Some Kinda" Album Review
You gotta’ give it up for an artist who creates his craft because it moves him.
Not because he’s after the almighty dollar or that fleeting 15 minutes of fame.
Just because he loves what he does.
That’s the feeling that immediately comes to mind when spinning Dwele’s Some Kinda.
It’s obvious that this was one labor of love from the chic singer/songwriter/producer from Detroit.
Some Kinda wasn’t designed to make a splash at the cash registers or on the radio charts. It was designed to take us back to the golden age of soul.
And Dwele succeeds remarkably well at that.
Hitting the shelves in 2005, Some Kinda was quickly noticed for the way it shook off the commercial boundaries that Dwele’s debut, Subject, had set.
Some Kinda moves along at a sophisticated, relaxed flow, one that seems to suit Dwele to a T.
It’s still got Dwele’s old-school R&B vibe over a cascade of hip-hop beats, just as Subject did, but Some Kinda grooves more naturally, less forced than album number one did.
Which only makes sense, considering the Dwele was probably more comfortable in the studio for his sophomore release than he was on his very first solo outing.
Dwele (Andwele Gardner) is among the ever-growing number of “retro” or neo-soul singers who find their inspiration in the legends of the genre.
And while the fast-rising Raphael Saadiq draws upon Stevie Wonder’s late 60s period for his muse, Dwele’s groove comes more from the Marvin Gaye/Donny Hathaway vibe of the mid 70s.
And when it comes to those three icons, you really can’t go wrong, whichever way you choose to go.
Some Kinda gets off to a bumpin’ start thanks to the hand claps and deep thump of “Holla,” the opening track on the 15-cut disc. And like most of those that follow, the tempo is not too fast, not too slow on “Holla,” which allows Dwele’s groovy voice to do its thing.
“A Pimp’s Dream” hints at jazz, but it’s not among the more impressive songs on the album. Matter of fact, it probably could have been left off. The kind of bravado that Dwele illustrates on the track doesn’t really showcase the man’s creativity.
Speaking of jazz, “Wake the Baby” is smooth, mature jazz all the way. Much of the credit for that goes to the tight-as-always saxophone work of jazz master Boney James on the tender cut. This isn’t the first time Dwele and James have teamed up, and hopefully it won’t be the last. These two are amazing together.
"I think I love you"
For a humorous dose of lightheartedness, we have “Flapjacks.” While a tad bit corny, it does manage to wrangle a smile upon repeated listens.
Slum Village shows up on “Keep On.”
However, the most powerful cut on Some Kinda is the title track.
It’s one guaranteed to send chills down the spine, especially considering how emotional the song must have been for Dwele to write and then bring to life in the studio.
The prelude to “Some Kinda” sets up the song masterfully and answers the question - just what is some kinda?
“Some Kinda” is about keeping legacies alive, about going on despite loss and about never forgetting where you come from, about never giving up.
Dwele’s father was murdered in front of their west side Detroit home when the youngster was just 10 years old, setting the table for this: “A dad at the end of the day can say he was a father/a father who left his sons too soon and made life a little harder/two sons who found strength in his words/words and stories taught from another/of some kinda taught through his wife/taught from his brothers, yeah of his love stories/wonderful to tell the proper youth about things his sons were wondering/now they know.
But even though it’s reflective, “Some Kinda” is not a sad song. It’s a positive song. One that Dwele manages to summon up enough courage and grit to turn into a hopeful, optimistic song.
And he does so with flying colors.
But that’s the power of real, honest-to-goodness soul music. It can tug at your heart strings while still managing to leave you feeling better about the way things are.
The power to move you without leaving a feeling of depression behind.
Dwele certainly has been blessed with that ability.
Filter that message through one of the most gifted and tasteful voices going today and that makes Some Kinda, some kinda real gem of an album.
Click here to see Dwele's place on the top 100 neosoul songs of all time.
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