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Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite

February, 09 2018 | Venkman's

Maxwell released his debut “Urban Hang Suite” 23 years ago. 1996. That’s when we hosted the Olympics. That’s when a lot of you youngsters were still using training wheels. The album is sexy. It’s smooth. It’s lush. And though it took critics a minute to catch on (it only went gold in its first year) its influence has proved monumental and lasting (by 2002, the album had gone double platinum). The influences are clear. Marvin Gaye may be the strongest. In fact the album was released on what would have been Gaye’s 57th birthday, and Maxwell enlisted former Gaye collaborator Leon Ware to help produce and arrange the songs. There’s Stevie Wonder in there for sure. Motown, Funk, Soul, Jazz. The result came to be known as neo or nu soul, a movement Maxwell is now credited as pioneering. Include Erykah Badu, D’angelo and Lauryn Hill on the list of neo-soul artists. The sound has shifted and diversified some. But it can still be heard loudly in the work of say, John Legend or Alicia Keys. As Khari Cabral Simmons recalls, “the 90s were bubbling over with acid jazz and jazzy hip hop. Bands like Incognito , Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, and Soul 2 Soul were dropping albums left and right….All this music from the U.K, mostly, as well as Europe and Japan…Soul and funk, mixing in some house and hip hop, and delivering it back to us. Once we got to the mid- late 90s, the States started to give as good as it got.” And “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite,” Cabral Simmons holds was “without a doubt one of the finest albums of the 90s.”

Artists:
Tony Tatum
Jason Eskeridge
Kyle Williams

Side 1:

1. The Urban Theme
2. Welcome
3. Sumthin’ Sumthin’
4. Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)
5. Dancewitme
6. …Til The Cops Come Knockin

Side 2:

7. Whenever Wherever Whatever
8. Lonely’s The Only Company (I & II)
9. Reunion
10. Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)
11. The Suite Theme