Labelmates are not all created equal

The past few months have been busy for Kedar Entertainment. Basking in the success of Erykah Badu, the “Home of Neo-Classic Soul” braced itself for more accolades from her debut disc’s live counterpart, as well as a new release by Chico DeBarge.

The good news first. Badu’s personal bohemian experience reached its apex at the perfect moment – while recording Erykah Badu Live (Kedar Entertainment/Universal) before an audience of 300 at Sony Music Studio in New York City late last year.

Badu exhibits more electricity through a mini stereo than many artists can conjure up during a whole concert tour. The disc includes songs from Baduizm, intertwined with interpretations of classics few female artists today could even begin to tackle. The best of the remakes is her version of Chaka Khan’s “Stay,” which starts off smooth, builds to a surprising crescendo and displays a vocal range not seen before in Badu.

“Tyrone” is this woman’s new battle cry. It takes a lot of nerve to write a song named, not after a tired boyfriend, but instead, after his third-wheel friend who should help him “come get yo shit.”

On the other hand, DeBarge brother, Chico, has emerged from six years in federal prison for drug conspiracy to shamelessly exploit his experience on his latest album, Long Time No See (Kedar Entertainment/Universal).

Hopefully, the comparisons to more popular, new-soul singers will end soon. DeBarge’s high voice desperately tries to imitate the funky falsettos of D’Angelo or Maxwell, but it turns into an irritating whine.

The music is good – jazzy beats that fit perfectly with the new sounds everyone is creating. But lyrically, DeBarge’s debut doesn’t go far. The best song is the first, “Love Still Good.” It begins as a track about a man whose girlfriend found someone new while he was in prison. Then, out of nowhere, he throws in a line about his older brother Bobby, whose drug-related death clearly had a profound impact on him. It’s sad, but why stick it in this song?

Even his liner notes are sickening. He basically forgives society for jailing him, saying, “I am not bitter.” These lyrics only go to prove he needs to get over himself. He also has a fascination with virginity, hence the song “Virgin,” and another track in which he mentions being someone’s first.

The disc really is not that bad, but the overtones and attitude that pervade it detract from some decent music. The lessons he aims to teach can be found in a million other places, so hearing them on this novelty album just isn’t necessary.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.