Dwele Subject

It was back in 1998 that Dwele made a few tracks in his bedroom, put them on 100 cassettes and sold them at a local hip-hop club. Evidently a few of those happy customers threw those tracks up on the internet and the word of mouth spread like wildfire. So what’s the big deal? Well Dwele has obviously taken cues from the burgeoning and increasingly influential new soulful movement emanating from Detroit spearheaded by producer Jay Dee. Indeed, he was the featured vocalist on "Tainted” the single by the most prominent purveyors of the sound, Slum Village. Dwele’s sound is organically soulful, couched in watery layers of Fender Rhodes keyboards and topped off by the smooth ambience of his spoken word cum rap vocal style. While that first EP entitled Rize, featured musical nuggets that sometimes only lasted a minute and veered into unexpected yet undeniably dope sonic directions, Subject finds Dwele’s songwriting adhering closer to traditional song structure. On hearing "Truth” this development is welcomed as it’s a downright awe-inspiring record that encapsulates the essence and potential of Dwele. It would be pretty hard to top this, but he comes close with the leftfield beauty of the title track and the much-bootlegged jewel "A.N.G.E.L.” Occasionally, the record gets a little too close to formula, "Money Don’t Mean A Thing” is the chief offender, an ill-fitting entry that stands out as already being earmarked for a single release. It is however too simplistic to lump Dwele in with the increasing creative stagnation of the neo-soul set. His fresh take on his jazz and hip-hop influences and undeniable talent that carry him through this release look set to underline the difference in the future. (Virgin)