Sunday, May 11, 2003
Virgin Records America are currently pinning their nu-soul hopes on Detroit’s Dwele (his full name, Andwele, means ‘God has brought me’ in Swahili, so says the press release, as if that had any significance at all). Unsurprisingly multi-instrumentalist, MC, singer, and “smoky café soul” poet Dwele is claiming to be part of “the new Motown”, which is complete crap. And even if it wasn’t, who’d want to be “the new” anything when they could be the first something? Subject, Dwele’s debut album, is sickly smooth and Tomahawk-Cruise-Missile-accurate; theoretically all the markers are in place, the jazzy tones, the hip hop beats, the r’n’b sweetness and the whiff of fusion, but the end result is limp and characterless. Tracks like Possible veer much closer to Craig David’s flaccid garage-swing than the magnificent hyper-urban bouillabaisse of D’Angelo’s Voodoo, and even if Sho Ya Right gets close to luring you in, Dwele’s anonymously indistinguishable voice fails to take you that extra yard. Hip hop and its close relatives are burning right now, but Dwele, like Common, is a damp matchbook, hung-up on authenticity and missing the point.
5/11/2003 11:43:00 am