Soul vocalist Raphael Saadiq got his big break by winning a contest when he was just out of high school. The prize was to go on the 1986 Parade Tour with Prince and Sheila E.
This trip around the world inspired Raphael Saadiq to start his own band Tony! Toni! Tone! in his hometown of Oakland, California. He worked in Oakland and Sacramento as a producer for Macy Gray, D’Angelo and The Roots and started his solo work in the mid 90s.
After a few soundtrack singles and a stint with pop supergroup Lucy Pearl, Raphael Saadiq’s first solo full-length came out on big label Columbia in 2008. The Way I See It was nominated for 3 Grammys for good reason. It was pure old-time sounding soul, and a rare record with no bad songs. Guest appearances from Jay-Z, Josh Stone and Stevie Wonder didn’t hurt either.
After years of listening to this release the top songs are “The Big Easy”, “Sure Hope You Mean It” and “Oh Girl.” Among them all “100 Yard Dash” is the obvious standout.
Download your copy of Saadiq’s best full-length The Way I See It here.
“I just have to be myself. You’ve got to follow your own path. I’ve always gone down the road less traveled, but now I do it even more aggressively.” – Raphael Saadiq
It’s interesting that it takes such individualism to play vintage-sounding music. Performance is all about sincerity and Saadiq’s commitment to the stories comes through. And there’s a natural easiness to his voice. Here’s Raphael Saadiq and his band playing the Temptations-style soul song “Sure Hope You Mean It.”
Raphael Saadiq added rock and blues feel to the 2011 full-length Stone Rollin’. There are some dynamic songs on the record. Especially “Heart Attack”, “Good Man” and “Radio.”
One of the best things about Raphael Saadiq is that he has done his homework. He’s spent hours studying the greats: Al Green, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Sly, Prince and Gladys Knight. In 2010 Raphael Saadiq performed this Spinner’s cover. A sophisticated tribute to one of world’s great soul song arrangements.
Tune in to Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM in Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian, documentary producer and DJ, she’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries and written scripts, lesson plans and features for Experience Music Project, University of Washington and NPR.