I Can't Call It: Jimmy Lee - Raphael Saadiq

Posted On Wednesday, August 28, 2019


"Even when I'm clean, I'm still a dope fiend..."

What can I say about Raphael Saadiq that hasn’t already been said? Well, to be honest I guess I can actually say a lot because I seldomly ever hear his name brought even though he’s been in the game 30+ years. Now some young folk may not truly understand his legendary status so let me play KRS & break it down like this. Tony Toni Tone’s “It Never Rains” was the soundtrack to my first REAL relationship in high school back in ’90 when I was 16 years old. Fast forward a couple of years and now Tony Toni Tone’s “Anniversary”, “Lay Your Head On My Pillow” & Saadiq’s first dolo song “Ask of You” was the soundtrack to my college relationship back in 1996. And once the new millennium was upon us songs like “Be Here”, "Still Ray", "Love That Girl" and "Good Man" became the soundtrack to my marriage. So this man in some way, shape or form has provided the soundtrack to my life since I was 16 years old and I’m now 45 years old! Take a minute and REALLY think about that. What other artist can say they’ve been making hits for over 30 years? And keep in mind, I said "making hits". Not just still making music. And trust me, there’s a BIG difference between the two. Because there are some artists in these streets who are on their 18th album but in all actuality, they fell off by their 8th album. But not Saadiq…nah…not at all. And after 30+ years in the game we've finally got Saadiq’s 5th dolo album "Jimmy Lee" on tap after taking an eight year Sadeish/Pharoahe Monchish hiatus which deals with his brother’s drug addictions. And after reading the last paragraph I shouldn’t have to tell ya’ll how hype I am for this jawn…right? 

"Jimmy Lee" sets off with "Sinner's Prayer" which is the opening act that leads you into the mindset of an addict & is a preview of what you'll be hearing and better yet feeling for the next 39 minutes. "They're gunnin' for me with loaded tongues, just tryin' to get home prodigal son/see I'm not running I'm in this fight, no I'm not guilty/hope that most high can see my heart is in the right place/my hands are folded My knees are bending when I say/God help me make it, God when the sinner's praying." "So Ready" is an uptempo 80's roller skating banger that tells the story of the heartbreak that comes with loving a drug addict, "I never come home at night and you stay by my side, but then I broke your heart I went too far/I'm still out here living wrong, these drugs was too strong and then I broke your heart my friend/I went too far I'm still out here lyin' but inside, I'm dying, then I broke your heart, my friend I went too far." "This World Is Drunk" and "Something Keeps Calling" takes you even deeper into the world of addiction similar to how Flipper went deeper into hell looking for Gator in "Jungle Fever" while "I'm Feeling Love" paints the picture of the happiness that an addict feels when their high and "My Walk" is a funkadelic breakdown of what an addict sees on "their walk." "I've seen lawyers judges hustlers in my dreams, it don't mean nuthin' if they ain't on your team/I've been takin' backstreets just to feed my soul, you don't know me and don't wanna see me cold."

Now some folk may wonder where does "Belongs To God" featuring Rev. E. Baker fit into the story of "Jimmy Lee" and the answer to that is quite simple, See if you have to ask that question I'll assume you've never been to a good ole down south baptist church service & seen Miss Hazzle come up to the front of the church to ask the congregation for prayer for her baby who's "wrestling with satan" BUT if you have...then you already know why this song is part of the story. "Riker's Island" keeps you in church and breaks down how there's "too many niggas on Riker's Island" and I wish I could break down how DOPE "Riker's Island Redux" featuring Daniel J. Watts is. And the illest thing about this song is I HATE spoken word, but Watts shuts down all of hatred down with his bars, "no matter how much I cow tow tap dance and jump through a bunch of hoops, I'll still be the one who winds up in a jumpsuit/I'll still be the one who winds up with the gun wounds, King had one dream that won't seem to come true/X had necessary means and a gun too, though there's always more than one truth/even on cloudy days sun rays still come through I mask feelings of pain and ask for healing/we got the same glass ceiling but I'm s'posed to be thankful for my sun roof  and massah's still trying to trick himself into believing he picked the cotton too."  "Jimmy Lee" ends with "Rearview" featuring Kendrick Lamar & the second it drops it instantly makes me think of  Old Dirty's "Brooklyn Zoo"and has Saadiq questioning what's the meaning of life but my fave BANGER on "Jimmy Lee" has to be "Kings Fall" which takes you in and out of the emotions that a drug addict struggles with and not for nuthin but beat is CRAZY! "I wake up I call the man, to see what's in the man's hands/he comes by and drops it off, to let me know how much the pills cost/I disappoint myself sometimes, cause I can't stop my bottom line/ my kids cry my wife's scared, my friends think I'm better off dead/even when I'm clean I'm still a dope fiend/everyone is always trying tell me something, I wake up I feel things crawlin', but nobody wants to see a strong man fallin/I used to be Everybody's hero, shaking hands and kissing babies, wondering what to do Lord." Wow...just...wow.


Now here's the thing, "Jimmy Lee" isn't gonna be for everybody. Folk who are expecting another "Stone Rollin" or "Instant Vintage" are gonna be sadly disappointed cause that's not what "Jimmy Lee" is. Now, what "Jimmy Lee" IS, is an incredible piece of music that puts you in the mindset of someone who's struggling with addiction, acceptance and being tormented by their own demons. And even though "Jimmy Lee" probably won't be getting any burn on the radio or at you Labor Day BBQ, PLEASE don't think that by any means it's not dope because it definitely is. But when you're scoring a drug addict's journey your family's BBQ where the fam wants you playing Beyonce's rendition of "Before I Let Go" 47 times in a row may not be the best place to play it. That is, unless your drug addicted Uncle Remus shows up and Grandma Rose decides it's time to have an intervention for him that is. "Jimmy Lee" was the 1st Saadiq album where I didn't listen to any of the singles before the album dropped because once I understood it was a concept album & I wanted it hear it as a complete body of music. For example, one day I was on Saadiq's IG page & "My Walk" was playing & my first reaction was "this sounds like a bunch of noise." But when I hear it now listening to the entire album it fits perfect and is actually one of my fave songs. But for the folk not feeling "Jimmy Lee" do me this justice, put on your headphones, close your eyes and press play and imagine Bubbs from The Wire, Gator from Jungle Fever or God forbid someone you know doing what they do to feed their addiction & see if you appreciate this album just a 'lil bit more when you finish it this go 'round...cause I think you will.

5 outta 5 mics
 

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