Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
If your idea of R’n’B is limited to what colour Sisqo’s hair will be next, and how fine Tyrese is, then you might wanna skip to another review right now. However, if you’re feeling cats like Musiq, D’Angelo, and Jill Scott, then you might just appreciate what Detroit, Michigan’s Dwele brings to the table.
Dwele? Yeah, you might already be a little familiar with him based on his appearance on Slum Village’s ‘Tainted’, where he provided the hook. The real diggers might also have a copy of “Rize” – an old tape that he released in 1998, that created an almighty underground buzz from just ONE HUNDRED COPIES, which resulted in a label deal with Virgin. “Subject” is where we pick up the story – an album with NO collaborations, where Dwele has chosen to sink or swim on the back of his own vocal talents, over production from Jazzy Jeff’s Touch Of Jazz, Ron E, G-One, and Raphael Sadiq.
Sometimes its hard to review this type of joint. With this type of soulful, rootsy stuff its often difficult to put into words exactly how smooth and buttery the tracks are. And if the entire album is stacked full of cuts like this, then its a nightmare to pick out standout tracks innit? But let’s try.
‘Truth’ could almost be a Musiq track – Dwele sounds uncannily similar to the Philly cat… similar honeyed voice, and beautifully laidback cut. Its a superb introduction to the album. Also worth checking out is ‘Find A Way’ – rightfully the first single, this is a more uptempo track that loses nothing in the increase in speed. With its almost West Coast feel, smooth bassline, and funky guitar lick this is hot. So too, is ‘Money Don’t Mean A Thing’, where Dwele tells us how he’d trade all the trappings of success for a real relationship. Yes, yes y’all – its been done a thousand times before, but doing it over a loop reminiscent of ‘No Scrubs’ keeps things interesting. Elsewhere, tracks like ‘Without You’, ‘Let Your Hair Down’ and the title track, ‘Subject’ also impress, with the latter track particularly standing out.
There aren’t really any bad tracks on this album – production is tight throughout, and Dwele’s vocals cannot be faulted. The only small gripe is the fact that all the tracks are a little “samey”… no matter the producer, they all seem to have brought the same sounds to the table resulting in the album that may become a little repetitive over time. Nevertheless, its a worthy “official” debut, and may well be worth checking out.