Title: Jimmy Lee
Artist: Raphael Saadiq
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: August 23, 2019
Raphael Saadiq, the extraordinarily talented singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and producer, is known for his genre-spanning solo albums as well as his collaborations with the likes of Solange, Mick Jagger, D’Angelo and the band Lucy Pearl. Before becoming a solo artist, Saadiq was a member of Sheila E.’s band, playing the bass at the age of 18 on Prince’s Parade Tour. He would later join the dynamic R&B band Tony! Toni! Toné! as the primary lead singer, bassist and producer. On Jimmy Lee, Saadiq’s fifth studio album, he has created a deeply personal and passionate project. Named after his oldest brother who died from a drug overdose, Jimmy Lee is also dedicated to Saadiq’s three other siblings who tragically passed away due to murder, drug addiction and suicide. While the album may be full of lament, it is also full of life, love and celebration.
Opening with “Sinners Prayer,” Saadiq’s voice is full of anguish as he pleads to God to help him make it through his grief. “So Ready” and the single, “Something Keeps Calling” featuring Rob Bacon, take people straight to the dance floor despite the heavy lyrical content that explores issues related to drug use and abuse. Saadiq returns to these issues again in the song, “I’m Feeling Love.” As he sings, “You are my rehab, the only needle that I have / Injections everyday, vein to vein I’m here to stay,” he compares the high he gets from love to drugs, advocating for love to triumph. In the midst of this heavy content driven album, Saadiq interjects the gospel quartet molded song, “Belongs to God,” featuring Rev. E. Baker. This track lightens the mood significantly through its call and response verses, driving groove, and lyrics that speak about the body belonging to God.
Raphael Saadiq is always full of surprises when writing and producing music. One never knows what he might create, but Jimmy Lee is unquestionably a masterpiece. Saadiq paints with both words and music, depicting the challenges faced by himself and his siblings, while capturing the joys and opportunities of living life to its fullest. Although he may be pessimistic about life’s conditions, he rejoices as he sings, “I thank God for giving us this life, the day you’re born, someone else dies. All in love, all is in life… Your life.”
Reviewed by Bobby E. Davis Jr.