For some reason, the last few days of my life have been soundtracked by old-school hip-hop and RnB. It might be the weather – rain forecast for the foreseeable future, which I, in studying mode, am absolutely ecstatic about. It could have something to do with the repeated steam room visits, major mellowing out, over the weekend. But I really think that 90s RnB has some baser, more universal appeal. Sure, this is the music of my youth (sounding old, wrinkled) but even more than that, there was something so carefree about the decade, pre-Y2K and FedEx cargo-bombs and Tea Parties and global warming that definitely resonates in the simplicity and the honesty of much that came out over those ten years. True, I was only a toddler for many of them, but it turning into a major throwback week, I’m diving headfirst into efforts to acquire as much 90s miscellanea as I can. Thus, today, Groove Theory.
Groove Theory’s ‘Tell Me’ strikes up the same sense of immediate but vague recollection as does Mark Morrison’s ‘Return Of The Mack’ but, more impressively, this feeling develops into a ‘Shit! I wish I knew the name of that track’ hankering once you get past that initial remembrance and realize that this is one hot track. That happened to me today. As opposed to a lot of mid-90s stuff that’s heavy on chorus and light on verse, more concerned with memorable melodies than it is with lyrical depth, ‘Tell Me’ is arresting in that, at almost four minutes long, it’s a piece of sustained soul. Singer Amel Larrieux has got the smoothest voice this side of Alicia Keys and teamed up with rapper/producer Bryce Wilson (who she met working as a receptionist at a music publishing company), produces the sort of laid-back jam that Mariah Carey hasn’t been able to make for too many years now.
Word on the street is that Groove Theory have reformed this year and that 2010 might well see the release of some new material. Given the accuracy of such buzz when it regards groups that are more than ten years deceased (Larrieux left the group in 99 to pursue a solo career), I wouldn’t put too much stock in that estimate. Needless to say, thankfully the duo did get out their one eponymous album in 95 before Bryce went on to produce for big names including (see his cameo at 1’45″) and Mary J. Blige and manage The Game and Gucci Mane among others. With the rain bucketing down outside and a solid day of public law behind me, winding down to ‘Tell Me’ is the perfect way to see the night in. It’s restrained but thoughtful music and a good reminder of the excellent legacy the 90s left us.
Groove Theory – Tell Me