Best music of 2011: Raphael Saadiq

by chateauy

If you choose one unfamilar artist to get to know from last year, make it Raphael Saadiq. His album, Stone Rollin’, is the perfect party starter. It’s an incredibly tight set of Motown and soul flavoured tracks that just beg you to jump up off the couch. I actually think Raphael is more consistent than any of the 70s R&B artists other than perhaps the Jackson 5 – who will always fill the dance floor while I’m around.

Raphael’s a guy who has experienced some of the greatest pain life can present – losing several siblings at a young age in heart wrenching circumstances. The kind of tragedies that it’s impossible to make sense of. Rather than take us into his painful past, Raphael invites us on a journey of joy. He insists that we dance through the bad times as well as the good. Then finally, when we’re exhausted from the beat, there comes a rare moment when he opens up and shares a little of his story. He tells us that he survived his childhood because good people were looking out for him – teachers, preachers, warm-hearted folk – and he implores us to be one of those people – someone who would look out for a young Raphael, someone who may have a hand in helping a kid from the troubled side of town find their dream. “Stop saying the game is sold and not to be told. Try to help the child that’s only 4 years old. Why, why would you sit back and relax And watch the kids fall off the tracks?” It’s a question that we generally try to avoid, but Raphael asks it so tenderly and genuinely that it doesn’t feel confronting or uncomfortable – simply stirring.

Buy it, play it, dance. Let the infectious rhythm into your body and let Raphael’s closing challenge eat at your soul.

Caution – don’t watch this clip at work unless you’re prepared to see your colleagues bust some moves…