More smooth sounds from Detroit’s crown prince of velvety soul jams.
Adam Kennedy 2010
With his fourth album proper, Detroit’s crown prince of velvety-as-melted-chocolate soul jams yearns to morph his multi-genre musicality into a whole to rival transcending greats like Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway. And though Andwele ‘Dwele’ Gardner’s spirit seems torn between deep conscientiousness, material concerns and the pleasures of flesh, W.ants W.orld W.omen isn’t far off, particularly on the former count.
Continuing hip hop/RnB’s dubious history of shoehorning dual definition into acronyms, WWW bears the fingerprints of the slickest Motown and undeniable Gaye echoes. Things certainly take a turn in classic I Want You directions when Dwele double dips into loved-up subject matter on I Understand and Love You Right, the 32-year-old’s sheer conviction saving him from a cheesy end.
His conflicts are put into clear focus from cover art onwards, confirmed early on as I Wish flits from desiring the superficial ("Gucci swag") through to the profound and vaguely contradictory ("I just wish people would be happy with what God blessed them with" – better scratch that Gucci request, then).
The versatility of Dwele’s effortless delivery largely shifts attention away from mild hypocrisies, thankfully. And whether breathing his way through messages to disinterested lovers (Dodgin’ Your Phone) or temporarily convincing us the Motor City is a hazy paradise rather than gritty industrial metropolis (the dreamy Detroit Sunrise), it’s nearly all done at the pace of a man in no hurry to prove anything.
The beat picks up marginally as old hometown pals Slum Village roll in for How I Deal, guest verses jolting the album from a comparative stupor, only to be slowed immediately once barely-there state-of-nation address Hangover kicks in.
An overdue UK release doesn’t help Dwele’s cause: he is, undoubtedly, more sultry summer night than onset of autumn. But with quiet allure, one issue he needn’t stress over is tackled in modest style on I Wish. "I wish I made music that appealed to the masses," Dwele laments. W.ants W.orld W.omen’s clunky titular wordplay won’t aid that aspiration, but the smooth sounds within beg to differ, laidback as a Sunday morning lie-in and damn near as enjoyable.
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