Album has a wealth of great music, lyrics
Angie Stone mines a gem with her newest offering. Rich Girl, start to finish, kills in cold blood.
The neo-soul bag is a perfect fit for Stone. R&B and gospel underpinnings give her a solid base from which to flat out nail a fluid, airtight groove. Added to which, you can have all the chops in the world but if the material isn’t there, neither are you. Accordingly, strong songwriting, to which she significantly contributes, abounds. She also pitches in as one of the producers, a team handling that end of things without flaw:
The entire project is recorded with a savvy ear — polished, but not slick. Quincy Jones used to produce pop albums of this quality for Michael Jackson. A perk, Malcolm-Jamal Warner puts in a sterling guest appearance.
You’re not going to find anybody anywhere who breaks bad to the bone like Angie Stone.
“Do What U Gotta Do,” sweet, mellow funk, has major airplay written all over it. Harking to the true old school, there’s hints of Aretha and Chaka. As all artists are influenced, Stone draws deep on soulful roots to create firebrand originality. You’re not going to find anybody anywhere who breaks bad to the bone like Angie Stone.
“Backup Plan” is sweet funk sans the mellow. This joint is chicken-scratch guitar, strutting, get-up-on-the-dance-floor and shake-what-you-got fare. The lyrics are a hoot. “Every woman’s got a backup plan…Every woman needs a backup man.”
Written by Stone and Mike Flowers, it’s frank, down-front, tell-it-like-it-is trash-talking worthy of Bobby Womack. Stone gives naive sistah-girls an off-the-cuff heads-up. Advising not to let nobody lead them around by an open nose. Get ahead of the game. Soon as he acts stupid, let him go right ahead. And, after you hang up the phone, girlfriend, go get yours. Pumping sound seriously locked in the pocket, it’s the sort of jam that keeps club deejays in work.
“Livin’ It Up,” to say it plain, ain’t nothin’ but a get-up-and-get-down party jam. Period. Complete with percolating, snaking bass and Angie Stone talking much smack.
For “Interlude,” Malcolm-Jamal Warner weighs in with superb spoken word. He’s subtle. Economic, letting direct praise for lady, speak for itself in simple eloquence. As in, “Though some might find it odd/I kiss you up to God.” Put that line in cold storage, fellas, for the next time you need to talk your way out of the doghouse.
“Rich Girl” takes another page from Bobby’s book. About some flea-bit dog who don’t know a good woman when he has her, who comes floating in the door at odd hours of the night with a flimsy excuse, the chorus goes, “If I had a dime for every time you lied, I would be a rich girl.” She lets the sucker know how gracious she’s being. Basically stating that while he thinks he’s being slick, was she a lowdown gold-digger, he’d be broke. Down to the Cadillac, jewelry, flat-screen TV and everything else for which she could take his sorry behind to court.
It’s a smooth, hellified move, sultry music with lyrics to match. By the end, homegirl has long since quit sitting there counting her tears. She’s snatched up her hat, ready to hits her hips on down romance’s road and leave Mr. Pimp Daddy looking stupid, cheap as two cents waitin’ on change.
Whether you’re already a fan or new to her music, bottom line, this is sheer beauty by a brilliant artist. Throughout, there is no filler, not a single loser track. Angie Stone’s Rich Girl is, in a word, bangin’.
Rich Girl (SRR Records) will be released on September 25. For more information, go to www.angiestonemusic.com.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
Photo by Kevin Goolsby courtesy of SRR Records