Tyrese: Black Rose

Posted August 2, 2015 by in r&b



4/ 5


Genre: ,
Genre: R&B, soul
Producer: Brandon "B.A.M." Alexander, Seige Monstracity, Marcus Hodge, Rockwilder, Eric Hudson, Warryn Campbell, Tim Kelley
Label: Voltron Recordz
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 61:48
Release Date: 10 July 2015
Spin This: "Shame," "Prior to You," "Dumb Shit"


The transcendent symphonic soul "Shame" and a decent brew of throwback R&B, along with passionate performances by Tyrese, puts Black Rose at the top of the list of urban soul albums


Last half suffers from weightless sex-driven baby-making music

On fifth try, Tyrese pulls off his career’s opus

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

On fifth try, Tyrese pulls off his career’s opus 

Over the years, Tyrese Gibson has been trying to play catch up with the macho urban contemporary kings of R&B, hoping to dash past the relevance of his career-defining Baby Boy gig and the Coca Cola Classic jingle days. Five solo albums and a joint collaboration with Tank and Ginuwine in the short-lived R&B supergroup TGT have only proved that it’s a definite hard road for the careers of 10+ year acts to maintain a shareholders grip on an industry that’s been lagging in the eye of the mainstream, since hip-hop has nabbed much of the world’s attention. Blue eyed soul acts like Justin Timberlake, Adele and Sam Smith are desperately trying to put R&B back on the pedestal, but it’s only aided the conversation of how the disparities of modern-day race relations and to a greater extent, white privilege, can stifle a success of a struggling black artist.

Before Tyrese dropped his latest effort Black Rose, much of the trepidation behind the lack of momentum in his career could and should be blamed on his own lackluster discography. Other than a few sexy singles like “Lately” and “Sweet Lady” (both from his 1998 debut LP), much of his content has walked the planks of subpar and almost irrelevant soul, much contributed by uneven pairings with overworked hip producers. And then there’s the dismay of an untapped reservoir of soulfulness that his silky voice often fails to explore. He usually croons as if he’s serenading his subjects at a distance of two inches away. But on Black Rose, his second album as an indie, he pushes himself into a mode of desperation, a system of survival that actually feels as if perspiration fell into the grooves. He sounds like a fighter, one reared in the science and pedigree of distinctive classic soul crooners. On the album’s finest contribution, the Warryn Campbell-produced “Shame,” Gibson stretches his vocals across a swath of symphonic soul akin to Isaac Hayes and The Dramatics. His explosive pleading knocks on the door of pain and frustration, as he reaches for K-Ci Hailey emotion. For those anxious to point out its connection with a particular throwback, it should be pointed out that Campbell’s sampling knife doesn’t exactly cut so deep into Atlantic Starr’s Quiet Storm gem “Send for Me.” Yes, the elements and even its salivating tempo are there, but the musical direction is more cognizant of being dramatic than it is being sultry. Just as important to the smooth groove-ish landscape are the fierce background vocals of Jennifer Hudson and Mika Lett, exposing the depth of the song’s inescapable magnetism. It’s as if they have whipped up a new millennium version of The Sweet Inspirations.

Nothing else on Black Rose reaches this type of splendor, but there are a number of mesmerizing moments attached. Dipping deeper into old school soul, the Chrisette Michelle-guested “Don’t Wanna Look Back” plays like a well-trained Blaxploitation slow jam. TGT partner Tank joins up on “Prior to You” and gets cool points for reviving D’Angelo’s brown sugar. “Waiting on You” dresses Stevie Wonder riffs taken from “All I Do” around Al Green’s luscious Hi sound. “Dumb Shit” — although the chorus is cursed with elementary repetitiveness — sounds excellent on Gibson’s silky voice. Rap cameos from Snoop Dogg and Black-Ty are there to create a bridge to edgier markets. And it will happen, but the classic sitar sample from the opening Rotary Connection’s “Memory Band”  also heard on The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly” makes the sale easier. And there are some songs that are just interesting enough just for possessing just enough funk to sound like a standout. Halfway into “Picture Perfect,” a backing vocal emerges to the front using the same tonality and swagger of Mary J Blige a la What’s the 411 style.

Towards the back of the disc, the album finds its share of faulty mishaps. There’s the characterless, minimalist production hearkening around Gibson’s melisma-possessed “Without My Heart.” Then Gibson slacks up by playing Trey Songz-esque X-rated bedroom carnivore, first on “Gonna Give You What You Need” and later on “Body Language.” These songs just don’t soar like the poignant performances heard on the first half.

Even with the blatant spottiness towards the back, Black Rose stands out as Gibson’s best creative album since his debut LP. Rather than regurgitating younger trends and sounding like a cougar, Gibson is content in putting a good dose of classic soul in modern R&B. The end result is one that strengthens his brand and image. For those that may have walked away from Tyrese prematurely, the shame is definitely on him. But for those sleeping on a disc of this caliber, particularly with the inclusion of the R&B gamechanger “Shame,” the shame will then be on them.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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