Ex-Tony! Toni! Toné! singer/producer Raphael Saadiq is holed up in his
Sacramento, California, studio recording "authentic and dirty" orchestral R&B
for his solo debut.
"It's definitely going to have that Raphael signature sound, but I'm gonna
have some fun with it," he said. "Dirty beats, dirty drum sounds you know,
Though he'll handle most of the music and vocals himself, Saadiq plans on
having D'Angelo and Angie Stone guest on the album, and he's recruited Preston
Crump, who played bass on Outkast's Stankonia, to lay down some lines
on a few tracks.
Saadiq opted to go solo after a round in Lucy Pearl, the supergroup he
formed in 1999 with ex-A Tribe Called Quest DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad and
former En Vogue singer Dawn Robinson. Lucy Pearl released their self-titled
debut in May of 2000, replacing Robinson with R&B singer Joi late that fall.
The group is now dormant, but Saadiq leaves the door open to recording
"I always kind of explained Lucy Pearl like the Traveling Wilburys," Saadiq said, referring to the rock collective featuring Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and
others that recorded albums in 1988 and 1990. "But [Lucy Pearl] turned into
the 'most powerful group of the '80s get together!' It was great for
marketing but it was really just about putting people together to put music
out and enjoy it."
Flying solo felt like a natural next move, he said.
"I just felt it was time. I think now is the perfect time, after I've worked
with so many different people producing and writing and being in groups. You
learn a lot that way, and I feel that I've collected enough experience to do
my solo record."
Saadiq, who has also been busy producing tracks for Stone, Macy Gray,
Ginuwine, TLC, the Isley Brothers and Babyface, is hoping to release his effort
in the fall. He has not yet decided on a title, but is considering
Manifesto: Raphael Saadiq, featuring Ben Wright and the South Central
Chamber Orchestra as one possibility.
He recently set up his own studio, called Pookie Lab, in Sacramento, where his
typical work schedule runs from 1 p.m. to 4 a.m.
"The first month-and-a-half was the hardest time," he said. "I had to get in
by-myself mode it was weird looking around the room and it's just me. It
felt pretty good, but it took me a while to really get into the swing of