I’m not sure how I feel about today’s R&B singers doing dance/disco/house-influenced music these days. I mean, it’s great that we’ve decided to reclaim a style of music that we originated, since there was a period around ’93/’94 when we cast house music aside as being too Euro or too gay for us. Two of our favorite single-monikered female singers have released their latest singles, both of which have a heavy club influence.
First off,we have Estelle, of “American Boy” fame. “Freak” first got attention because of it’s video, which shows Estelle in blackface. Whatever controversy this caused is yet another case of our people having misdirected anger issues. It doesn’t bother me at all (although to be fair, I have no clue what message Estelle is trying to put across). What DOES bother me is the song itself. I liked Estelle’s last album, “Shine”. She’s no Lauryn Hill, but she is a good singer and a good emcee. “Freak” sounds a little too fergalicious for me. The only thing missing is the misspelled words. As my man Mark Jackson would say, “Estelle, you’re better than that”. The most memorable part of the song is her interpolation of Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life”, and all that does is make me wish Caron Wheeler would come out with another album.
Next up, we have Kelis. Ms. Rogers’ eclectic style (and her voice) isn’t really suited to traditional R&B, so the fact that she’s decided to go the “I Feel Love” route for her new single, “Acapella”, is pretty cool. Not sure who wrote and/or produced this song, but it’s a good look. It’s got a great lyric (a rarity for a modern-day dance song) and this beat will shake dancefloors across the country if it gets a fair shake. After splitting with Arista Records, Kelis is now signed to will.i.am’s label through Interscope, and I might have to add this to my list of “reasons will.i.am is worth redemption”, along with the signing of Macy Gray, John Legend’s “Ordinary People” and “Save Room”, and…Estelle’s “American Boy”.
See how I swung it back around? I’m just nice like that.