Smoothed out on the something easier to digest maybe this might fall within that neo-soul train that was finding its way through some radio stations at the time; a train we had been on all ready, but got on too early before there was enough passengers and in the process may have forgotten that all important filter through the hip hop perspective, Connected, was our creative way of saying my name is TOBY, but not really meaning it. Our KUNTA KENTENISTIC TENDENCIES still betrayed us in the end, even though we might have changed our name for the master in one brief second of weakness.
Sandra did not work on this album with us. We spoke of doing something with her for this project but it never materialized. Our creative relationship with Sandra remained close, however, but she was off on a personal artistic journey and recorded a solo album. So us two old background dancers, like the two middle aged hippie leftovers from Shalamar on Crack, were looking for a new female lead singer. Many wonderful singers auditioned but we eventually decided on Jacci McGhee. As everyone knows… BLAH, BLAH, BLAH (I know Jacci must get sick of it) she is best known for her duet Make It Last Forever with the AHR-RAH & BEE begging and whining soulfully for that booty legend Keith Sweat.
Jacci is a very stylish and beautiful woman with a wonderful vocal instrument… And she worked really hard on this album… kind of like that lazy girl with the slightly funky attitude who drags her feet when she walks that one sees at too many African-AMERICAN eating establishments. You get your food, and you know she’s doing her best, sought of, but DAMN! Why I got to go through so much just because I want my collard greens in a separate little bowl away from the rest of my food. I don’t like… collard green juice… getting my catfish soggy!
I like Jacci… But Jacci didn’t “get me” if you know what I mean, (and lord knows that’s true of most people) But if you’re in The Family Stand… you had better. I don’t know if she really “got” The Family Stand. She wanted to sing “rock”, and to her that meant some version of a Tina Turner fantasy in her head that she wanted to live out through her music. I seem to remember some god awful wig showing up at our show on her head maybe it was just a bad dream I don’t really remember… Whatever that was… it wasn’t our vibe.
Jacci brought a lot to the table (except my greens) in terms of her marketability and her relationships in the AHR-RAH & BEE side of the music industry and radio. It was definitely a factor in our decision to choose her, but it just didn’t pay off. And that was by no means her fault.
Jacci sang her ass off (and that’s a big and well formed roller coaster to sing away) on the title track of the album, the song Connected. I really felt it should have been the first single. It was Jacci at her best and with her up front it showed us in the best “marketable” light.
(we’re in the era of the “great business men” there’s a bunch of great “INDUSTRY CHICKS and DICKS” I suppose we felt the pressure to compete. We don’t want to be dumb but we really are. Are “ARTEESTS” in every sense of the word. Marketabilty was the wrong focus for us.)
You Don’t Have To Worry was the first and the only single released. It was a song inspired by the true story of my daughter, Rubysummer, mother’s childhood. I sang the song and Jacci joined me on the chorus. I never intended to sing the song. And this was true of several other songs I ended up singing on the album. We somehow just couldn’t get it together with Jacci. Again, however, I have to say that to a large extent, it wasn’t her fault. We didn’t write to her strengths. We wrote more to a vision of what we thought the album was supposed to be.
The flow of this album was intended to be reminiscent of the way Stevie Wonder’s albums like Talking Book and Innervisions used to flow. Certain kinds of songs would always happen at certain moments in the albums journey. Keep You Satisfied and It Should Have Been Me That Loved You were very much homage to some of Stevie’s greatest songs.
The highlight of this album for me was Jeff’s amazing vocal performance and the song What Must I do Now. The song is in two sections and the first part is a commentary or in actuality a questioning of what does it take for people of color in this world to have the full depth and a breath of their humanity acknowledged. Part two is about the life of Tupac Shakur. The question in part two is: What could have been done to save his life from the viewpoint of someone close to him.
There goes that damn Kunta Kente seeping out again… popping out like a nap that won’t be permed. Soon after…
I thought I heard some one say…
I think they’re about done.
OH NO! Someone else said.
Those rebels won’t be quieted… Forever… Just 8 years. That’s like a music industry forever. But it’s not FOREVER, EVER?
After the release of, Connected, by East/West Atlantic Records we asked to be dropped from the label… And we were obliged.
Before ending this segment, however…
We’d like to give a special thanks to the people who signed us, Sylvia Rhone & Merlin Bobb at East/West Atlantic Records. (They have now gone on to other labels)
Sylvia was the president of the label that supported us for 10 years. We had major differences but as we look back in retrospect those differences do not outweigh the fact that you gave us total creative freedom and that you allowed our voices to be heard. AND NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER done more for us in the music industry.
Sylvia and Merlin… We love and respect you.
And a special thanks also to Timmy Regisford who introduced Jeff and I to Merlin.
WAIT A MINUTE…
WHAT WAS THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????
WHAT WAS THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????
WE’RE ABOUT TO EXPLOAD DAH!!!!!
SUPER SOL NOVA —- 2007