Maxwell – Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite

Black folks and white folks don’t always agree on everything, and when they do find common ground, it’s always an occasion to celebrate.  But they sometimes find things in common that you wouldn’t expect.

Like line dancing.

I was at a party at the Elks Lodge the other day and was digging the DJ’s selection when he started throwing down r&b line dancing songs…and the ladies went wild.  As I sat with jaw agape and watched as the scene played out, I pondered how one of the strangest white people dance crazes had made the cultural transition.  The moves were the same…just sans boots and hats, but only the music was different.

It had to be the music.

Speaking of music that all folks can agree on (minus the line dancing,) I had pretty much written off the chance that any new soul or r&b was going to impress me when this album dropped in 1996.  Who could blame me?  Even Columbia Music had doubts, since the album  was finished in 1994 and shelved for two years over concerns that the public wouldn’t get it. (once again the labels show their infinite wisdom)

But get it they did.

With a sound that hearkens back to the early seventies soul sound, Maxwell dropped the bomb on us before we even knew it.  Just the opening chords of ‘The Urban Theme’ melting away into the sweet stickiness of ‘Welcome’ are enough to make panties drop at twenty paces.  Before this album, I didn’t know they could make em like this anymore.  A perfect accompanying piece to any lounge night, cocktail function, or doing the nasty.  Other notable sounds  are ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’ and my personal favorite ‘Til the Cops Come Knockin.’

Some of his later work is good too, but this one is so…butter.  Check him out below doing a smoking cover of the Nine Inch Nails classic: ‘Closer.’


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