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Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin’

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Raphael Saadiq

Album: Stone Rollin’
Label: Columbia

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From 2002’s Instant Vintage up through 2008’s Grammy-nominated The Way I See It, former Tony! Toni! Toné! standout and relentless mega-producer Raphael Saadiq has gradually resuscitated the energy that characterized his soulful R&B trio as a solo artist. On his excellent, career-finest LP, Stone Rollin,’ Saadiq truly comes into his own, playing virtually every instrument, in addition to writing and producing the album. While Saadiq continues to mine Chuck Berry on the sock-hop throwback “Radio” and aptly re-creates essential harmonica blues for the title track, Stone Rollin’ ascends to a level of genre-crossover, modern R&B prestige—alongside the likes of Cee Lo, Big Boi, and The Roots—thanks to distinctive cuts like “Over You.” That track simply has it all: a washed-out, crashing double-time beat, a sneering vocal, heavily effected group harmonies, and most notably, a loopy Mellotron that transforms the track into a rock ’n’ roll funhouse.

That warped, brash, psychedelic feel defines Stone Rollin,’ invoking Saadiq’s familiar Shuggie Otis/Sly Stone vibe while freeing him up to create a unique palette of sound on the lush, wonderfully weird “Go To Hell” and the spectacular orchestral closer “The Answer.” The end result is a warm, sometimes reckless, but always deeply moving and wildly creative effort that is absolutely dizzying in the best, most indelible sense.