Raphael Saadiq The Way I See It

Raphael Saadiq The Way I See It
Whether you know him best as the front-man of ’90s R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné, as a part of the R&B super-group mash-up that was Lucy Pearl or from his largely overlooked solo affairs, underrated is the suit that best fits Saadiq. The Way I See It is impressive not so much for what it is but what it isn’t. All too often musical throwbacks tend to be mimeographically challenged, coming across as phoney and forced. Backed by a live band, smooth Motown-styled reverb and a studied, minimalist production approach, Saadiq’s foray into classic soul doesn’t just sound authentic, it is authentic and wouldn’t sound the least bit out of place chilling in pop’s old vinyl collection. Case in point: joints like "Sure Hope You Mean It,” "Love That Girl,” "Keep Marchin’” and the sublime "Oh Girl” recall elements of Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and the Stylistics, and rep pure retro soul but sound fresh, not fusty. And even for a jaded and disaffected music reviewer, there’s still a sense of awesome when the phone rings and dude on the other end of the line answers with, "Hey, man, it’s Raphael Saadiq.”

What’s the motivation in creating this album at this point in your career?
I tried to capture the spirit of those times. It’s pretty much what’s going on now was going on then. So I had a little help looking at the environment of the world today. In terms of the production and the groups I’ve been in, having another record out at this time in my career is very important. [With this new album] it’s finally kind of happening for me where people can see… to become a solo artist and have people still pay attention to you, that’s what I’m raising the bar to this time.

Who is your target demographic?
When I was a kid, the Temptations weren’t making music talking about that it’s for the grown and sexy. I’m just making music, it’s not a genre, there’s no black or white or young or old; it’s just music.

You’ve been doing your music for a while now. Do you feel you get the recognition you deserve?
I never really think about it until I hear people say that I’m one of the more underappreciated artists and producers in the world today. I don’t really think about it until then, as I’m not one of those guys. But I do what I do and what artists [like Pharrell and Rodney Jerkins] do is different from what I do. I can’t expect to be looked at in the same way, nor do I want to be. I feel like I get my props when people walk up to me and say that they like what I do. That’s the reward to me and being able to do it for so long… what I’ve done I feel great about. (Sony BMG)