Music: Dwele Get’s ‘Em Open

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Dwele resembles that guy that you know from any Northeastern predominately Black city, such as Baltimore, D.C., and our own Brooklyn if we stretch the definition.

You always see on the train or metro and he's kind of Afrocentric, bold, and subtle in his style. You don’t know what he does for a living, but he's probably an artist of some sort, and you always see him at parties looking SHARP. He’s smooth, he’s got swag, always has a beautiful woman around him, and somehow you know he’s intelligent and going to be successful in any endeavor he pursues…even winning your heart.

But when I spoke to him backstage at S.O.B’s in New York City where he promoted the release of his 5th album Greater Than One, he told me that the image in the slim cut suit, flossing and profiling in front of the crowd, was just the “stage” him. “See my fatigues over here?” he says, as he gestured to his crumpled fatigue shorts on the dressing room vanity. I looked and nodded. Fatigues are the epitome of casualness, of comfortable in your skin-ness, because I don’t have anyone to impress except mysef. I dug it.

Dwele is kind and down to Earth--mellow and friendly. Maybe that’s the thing about him that makes him cute but not so intimidating. He’s a cool guy who is never overtly erotic, and that’s why men are comfortable going to see him and taking their girl to his concert, and just vibing. I overheard a few guys talking about this and one guy said, “the worst thing you can do is take your girl to an R&B concert.” I replied, “Why? Only if you’re insecure…” Another friend of his chimed in, “Yeah man, I think it's a great idea...Dwele gets the ladies open…” Indeed.  He knows how to utilize his presence, which is as subtle as it is sexual, as much as it is powerful.

In his live show he reminded us of the days when Neo Soul was gold by performing classics like “Find Our Love” and even the hook on Kanye West's “Flashing Lights,” but the songs that stood out were from his latest album. One of my favorites was “Going Leaving,” where he reflects about a long lost love…yeah, he “wasn’t ready” to give her all of the things she wanted…then has the nerve to turn around and be upset that she started a relationship with someone else!…but there’s a twist to that song. I’ll let you listen and find out just how truth can be stranger than R&B. I could relate to some of the lines he sang about:  She wanted more but I wasn’t ready/ and I can admit it scared me when she said ‘where is this going?’/ I said ‘I’m not ready’/now she’s leaving...  I could relate to those lines of that song. That’s the number one thing that separates a regular song from a potential classic: make it relatable.

If you love your predominately Black (read: urban) city you might be able to related to Detroit's lasted theme song, “Must Be,” even if you've never been there. Featuring Dwele’s back up singer J-Tait, L’Renee (Kem’s back up singer), and Black Milk, the song names the historical Motown and and other things that make this city memorable to its patrons.  Detroit is close to my heart because of some of my personal history there. 7 and 8-mile will always remain in my memory for the beefs between those two sides of town (some friendly and some ended in violence) and I also my first male strip club experience at 14 years old. (I grew up fast.) You can find your own tender moments and memories that you can project on to this song, which is a little more uptempo than the rest, and will definitely be a song they play at the grown and sexy events this fall and for years to come in Detroit and beyond.
“Obey” is another song that speaks to my inner submissive side. It’s a sexy slow tempo song laced with pulsating bass that is a staple for any Neo Soul album. You need a song that allows a woman to relax and open up, which Dwele’s smooth voice is so apt at doing. He has a gift for easing spirits, which makes it easier to allow a woman to feel relaxed and sensual. And we all know when it comes to making the best love…relaxation is the key. Let Dwele’s voice take you there…and get open.

Helese Smauldon, Columnist for The Black Star News

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