If you’re a soulhead and all-around music aficionado like yours truly, I’m willing to bet that while your record collection may run deep and diverse, there are only a small handful of artists that you genuinely, unequivocally, and undyingly cherish. You know, those few acts that you selectively and stubbornly consider a clear cut above and beyond the rest. Those who can do no wrong musically and whose work you’ll champion unconditionally. I certainly maintain a short list of this kind, and I’ve recently expressed my “Long Play Love” for a few of them here and there. One gentleman that resides on my list, without question, and I’ve yet to write about—until today—is the remarkable Raphael Saadiq.
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Over the past 10 years or so, I’m hard-pressed to recall many albums that I’ve played as frequently and adored as ardently as I have Saadiq’s two most recent solo efforts, 2008’s The Way I See It and 2011’s Stone Rollin’. Both are indisputable, yet unassuming, modern soul masterpieces, and there is no forthcoming album that I’m anticipating as impatiently as his next one (still no official word regarding a release date, I’m afraid).
Prior to these two LP gems, Saadiq loyalists found a helluva lot to love in his first two solo albums (2002’s Instant Vintage and 2004’s Ray Ray), his brief tenure as founding member of neo-soul supergroup Lucy Pearl, and his transcendent production work upon which he’s generously blessed the likes of D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Mary J. Blige and Jill Scott, among a myriad of others. However, my and most people’s musical love affair with the man began even further back, nearly 30 years ago, with the emergence of Tony! Toni! Toné!, the dynamic Oakland-bred trio comprised of Saadiq (a.k.a. Raphael Wiggins, lead vocals and bass), his elder brother D’Wayne Wiggins (lead vocals and guitar) and Timothy Christian Riley (drums and keyboards).
Justin Chadwick is a columnist for soulhead.com, whose #LongPlayLove series celebrates the anniversaries of albums that command a sentimental place in his mind, heart and soul. Follow his insatiable passion for music on Twitter @justin_chadwick.