Daddy B. Nice’s New CD/Albums Reviews

April 22, 2024

MARCELLUS THE SINGER: Calling All Crack Babies

Four Stars **** – Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new

If you troll YouTube for music videos you’ve no doubt come across one of the most bizarre pieces of cover art in recent memory: a chains, bracelets and ring-wearing two-year-old in a white cowboy hat and sneakers sitting in a pile of cash with a landline phone to his ear wheeling and dealing like a creepy, calculating Chucky doll. The title is also disturbing. Calling All Crack Babies. And yet the music within this new EP from the gifted young recording artist Marcellus The Singer belies the packaging, being gracious, gentle and uplifting throughout.

Marcellus first gained recognition with the single “Toxic Love” from his well-received debut album Music Therapy. Though consisting of only five tracks, Calling All Crack Babies is even better, representing a huge leap forward in musical maturity, most of it embodied in two melody-rich ballads.

Pristine songwriting, vocalizing and production are on full display in “You Baby” (#3 February DBN’s Top 10), a duet with Cecily Wilborn, who has attracted her own significant fanbase with the southern soul anthem “Southern Man” (Best Collaboration of 2023 with West Love) and more recently her gutsy foray into country with #1 single “Red Cup Blues” (March). When Wilborn enters mid-way through “You Baby” with—

“We fuss and we fight.
We make love all night.”

—the song reaches a dazzling apogee.

But the show-stopper of the set is the eight-minute-long ballad “Until We Meet,” in which a stately chord progression and a scintillating guitar usher us through the touching stages in the life of a loving couple. Here’s the commentary from January:

Daddy B. Nice’s Top 10 “BREAKING” Southern Soul Singles For. . .

——-JANUARY 2024——-

1. “Until We Meet Again”—–Marcellus The Singer

This ballad deserves a place on southern soul’s top shelf alongside such slow jams as Sir Charles Jones’ “Just Another Love Song” (w/ La Keisha) and Big Robb’s “Good Loving Will Make You Cry” (w/ Carl Marshall). Nearly eight minutes long, it sails by, never grows repetitive and has every chance of becoming Marcellus’s breakthrough and signature song.

The balance of the EP is adequate, providing respectable background for “You Baby” and “Until We Meet”. “You might fuck around and fall in love with a toxic nigger” from “Watch What You Doing” is as aggressive as Marcellus allows himself. “Stress Me Out” charted on the Top 40 Singles.

Incidentally, Marcellus himself is a guest artist on another southern soul song of the moment, Curt The Countryman’s “Back Road”. Marcellus’s fans will enjoy his vocal. He also has a song out with the rapper Boosie BadAzz—both since Calling All Crack Babies. That seems to be a prerogative of the new generation. Ciddy Boi P doing southern soul, hip-hop and country all at the same time. Wilborn shuttling between southern soul and country. Marcellus seamlessly transitioning from southern soul to country. And yet, Marcellus, like these artists, is a true-blue southern soul creative. His “Until We Meet” deserves top-shelf classic next to Wilborn’s “Southern Man”.

—Daddy B. Nice

Buy Marcellus The Singer’s CALLING ALL CRACKBABIES EP at Apple.

Listen to all the tracks from Marcellus The Singer’s CALLING ALL CRACKBABIES EP on YouTube.


March 24 2024

TYREE NEAL: Liquor Talk (Jazzy Records)

Three Stars *** – Solid. The artist’s fans will enjoy.

In Louisiana Tyree Neal fills big shoes. Tyree comes from a storied musical family—Raful, Kenny, Larry and of course cousin Jackie, Jackie Neal, the departed, forever-young queen of Louisiana southern soul. When the prestigious Blues Is Alright Tour comes annually through Louisiana, Tyree sometimes appears on the bill with the “big boys”—King George, Pokey, Tucka, Sir Charles. And yet it is safe to say that with that recognition has come a complacency, a contentment with his regional status not shared by his more high-profile, former Louisiana Blues Brothas bandmates Pokey and Bagher.

Liquor Talk, Neal’s new album, is very much in the mode of the last, Young Goat of the Blues, quantity (twice the number of tracks of usual southern soul collections) over quality. It’s not that the songs aren’t adequately produced—they are—but therein lies the problem. They’re just adequate. With a dearth of fresh melodies, interesting chord progressions or additional elements of production to distinguish one track from another, major portions of the album accomplish little beyond testifying to Tyree’s well-known reputation for being a studio rat.

So it’s more of the same in Liquor Talk, meaning Tyree’s agenda is to prove his worth as a singer and songwriter. You’d never know from listening to the set that Neal is one of the pre-eminent lead guitarists in southern soul music. Would I still like to occasionally hear Tyree’s guitar up front in the mix, like his dope riff in Stephanie McDee’s “When I Step In The Club”—to this day still the finest “bumper” music in the southern soul catalog? Yes I would.

If, on the other hand, you think “When I Step In The Club” sports a fairly pedestrian guitar line (even though it carries the entire song), sample Tyree’s surgically-precise work with Highway Heavy (on keyboard organ) in backing up Johnny James on “Sweet Dick Johnny”, a blues cauldron of tasteful picking and deep-soul organ straight from the Devil’s crossroads.

In spite of Tyree’s insistence on downplaying his studio session work, as a Neal he’s steeped in the music and its history, and that alone will please avid fans who’ll enjoy songs like “What He Don’t Know Won’t Hurt,” which plays on the old Maurice Wynn classic “What She Don’t Know (Won’t Hurt Her)” and incidentally showcases Neal’s vocal acuity at an all-time high.

The title tune “Liquor Talk” is the first officially-released single. “Bad Risk” is the most popular track on YouTube at 52K and rising. Solid guitar work and a reggae-based rhythm track also lift “Take My Time In It”. However, the most encouraging new sound on Liquor Talk is the dance-friendly “Can’t Nobody Do It Like She Do It,” featuring Hot Boy Ronald. It surprises us with a locomoting instrumental track with lots of special effects. It may even surprise Tyree. Even he seems energized.

References to Jackie Neal abound, and in the end that seems to be the point of any Tyree Neal solo effort. “It’s Going Down Tonight” starts with a scratchy copy of Jackie Neal’s classic, “Down In The Club,” and if for nothing else than its up-tempo zydeco pace, “Goin’ Jackie Neal,” (feat. Pokey Bear, C-Loc, Adrian Bagher, Johnny James and Bro Bro) may be the most enjoyable and dramatically distinctive tune on the album. Everyone takes an entertaining verse, Pokey giving obeisance to Jackie more vehemently than anyone. Adrian Bagher sings that when he first heard Raful Neal, Tyree’s uncle, at ten years old, he knew he wanted to be a blues man. As Jackie herself once said: With the Neals, it’s all about the family.

Listen to “That’s The Way We Roll”.

—Daddy B. Nice

Buy Tyree Neal’s new LIQUOR TALK CD at Apple.

Listen to all the songs from LIQUOR TALK on YouTube.

See the LIQUOR TALK track list in Daddy B. Nice’s Artist Guide to Tyree Neal.


February 25 2024


Four Stars **** – Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Let Me Talk takes me back to the days when we actually listened to albums from beginning to end. The title says it all. This is music for intelligent, sensitive people who can see the shadings in life. It’s southern soul music with unusual influences: Gil Scott-Heron, Tribe Called Quest, Sly Stone, De La Soul, Lauryn Hill, Bishop Bullwinkle, Outkast. Looking for mindless “party hardy”? You won’t find it here.

The trio (K. Monique, Zee Brownlow and leader Jay Morris) is uncommonly verbal. To listen to them is to descend a rabbit warren of conversation. A Jay Morris song or album has more in common with a seventies’ Robert Altman film like M.A.S.H. where the actors are always talking, interrupting and overlapping one another than it does with traditional southern soul. Consider February’s #2 southern soul single “In Front Of Me,” a fascinating, female-oriented takeoff on southern soul classic “Sho’ Wasn’t Me”. One of my favorite couplets is: “Jay, that’s his co-worker. / They have lunch from time to time”.

Where else in the universe of southern soul music would you ever hear a lyric like that? Yet what’s surprising is the substantial following this highly literate group has attained in a genre not known for being conducive to poetry beyond the pithy one-liner. The band has produced four fruitful albums in five years, and with fifty million views and counting, their signature single “Knee Deep” rivals the hit songs of King George, Tucka and other A-list southern soul headliners.

The biggest single (so far) from LET ME TALK is “Talk My Shit” (“Talk My Ish” for all audiences on YouTube and Apple), which debuted at #4 in Daddy B. Nice’s Top 10 Singles for September ’23 . “Talk My Shit” has all the earmarks of a Jay Morris tune: the roundelay of confident vocals, the mid-tempo, almost ballad-like, cradle-rocking of the instrumental track and—last but not least—the perennial riffing of the keyboard/organ, although “Talk My Shit” adds a little more emphasis on lead guitar and piano.

That ever-present keyboard sound—the “kazoo” sound, I call it—is both Jay Morris’s signature of fame and the group’s ball and chain. It’s hard to imagine a JMG tune without that insistent keyboard, yet it can grow tiresome, and likely, if projected indefinitely into the future, unnecessarily restrictive. The kazoo-keyboard is given a refreshing swagger in “For Granted,” which positions it as another potential hit single from the CD. But in general drums and bass are used begrudgingly, as in “Freaky Secrets, where you have to strain to hear a little bass at the end of the more dominant keyboard bass-line notes.

There’s a hint of what this band could do on a more blues-based, mid-to-fast tempo in the K. Monique vehicle “You My Man,” which recalls the trio’s debut single, “4 By 4” (aka “Ms. Wendy”). But for the most part LET ME TALK adheres to the sameness in instrumentation and tempo that have characterized the Jay Morris Group’s storytelling format from the beginning.

Given the off-the-charts vocal talent of the group, it may behoove them to gradually add more instrumental depth and options—perhaps even explore faster, dancing tempos. That would be something people, I think, would be curious and even excited to hear. In the meantime, LET ME TALK cements the trio’s reputation as the pre-eminent group in the solo artist-dominated southern soul market.

—Daddy B. Nice

Buy The Jay Morris Group’s LET ME TALK album at Apple.

See the LET ME TALK track list in Daddy B. Nice’s Artist Guide.

Listen to all the tracks from the Jay Morris Group’s “Let Me Talk” album on YouTube.

Read more about the Jay Morris Group.


February 16 2024


Four Stars *** – Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

U-Turn (The Album) celebrates the hit song that transformed P2K DaDiddy’s southern soul career, “U-Turn” contrasts P2K’s vulnerable, guy-next-door vocalizing with King George’s strong, fluid, charismatic baritone. It’s not only a great piece of songwriting (Keith Taylor aka P2K) but one of the most uniquely produced songs of the year, courtesy of Kang 803 (King George, etc.). “U-Turn” was recently feted in the 17th Annual Southern Soul Music Awards as “a masterpiece of production,” its majestic and reverberating chords etched permanently in the consciousness of the 2023 southern soul fan base.”

On first impression, the thing about U-Turn (The Album) that’ll make you say “Whooahh!” is the phenomenal line-up of guest artists. It’s a set of collaborations—and artful, relevant guests at that: King George, Big Mel, Marcellus The Singer, Urban Mystic, Frank Johnson, Magic One, Bad Newz, not to mention southern soul’s pre-eminent “wailer,” Big Pokey Bear. And bringing something new to P2K’s sound, the powerful-piped West Love partners with P2K on one of the most intoxicating tracks, “Can’t Make ‘Em Drank”.

The A-list of contributors, I suppose, shouldn’t be a surprise. DaDiddy’s first album and debut—Welcome to the Boom Boom Room (2018)—boasted a similar list of star-studded contributors: Jeter Jones, Sir Charles Jones, Cupid, L.J. Echols, Nathaniel Kimble, Avail Hollywood, Crystal Thomas and more, with the Sir Charles-influenced and dominated “Soul Brothers Moonshine” being that CD’s “U-Turn” and, for that matter Sir Charles Jones being that CD’s King George. In short, P2K is doing what he “do,” mixing creativity and market-based networking (which require two different sides of the brain, let me tell you) in a dazzling way few creatives can.

That’s not to say DaDiddy’s faultless. His last (and sophomore) album Pour It Up was a mis-step. That’s especially evident now, in the glare of the new album’s illuminating success. U-Turn (The Album) may not equal the sheer wealth of material in P2K’s debut, Boom Boom Room, but it’s close. Pokey Bear, Marcellus The Singer and West Love all deliver strong, enthusiastic vocals outside their usual ken not to be missed by their fans.

Tracks that otherwise might be overlooked include “Good Time,” a duet with Frank Johnson (“Hate On Me”);
“Party Tonight,” a quintessentially southern soul track featuring Urban Mystic; the sentimental, anthem-like “Here We Go Again,” with Big Mel; and the hip-hoppy, wryly-written “Ya Girl, My Wife,” with Bad Newz. And in case you’re wondering if P2K can do it alone, check out “Full Tank Of Gas”.

–Daddy B. Nice

Listen to all the tracks from P2K’s new U-Turn album on YouTube.

Buy P2K’s new U-Turn album at Apple.

Listen to P2K’s U-Turn album on Spotify.


November 12, 2023:

TUCKA: The Guy Your Man Can’t Stand (Hit Nation) 

Three Stars *** – Solid. The artist’s fans will enjoy.

The usual peerless vocals and confident, top-notch production combine with surprisingly suspect songwriting in Tucka’s new album The Guy Your Man Can’t Stand. The short, nine-track CD comes at a time when Tucka enjoys a career high in popularity and has recently ascended to the number-one position on Daddy B. Nice’s current Top 100 Southern Soul Artists Chart: The New Generation. Yet, reading the voluminous praise from half a million fans in the comment section of Tucka’s YouTube video for the hit single “Put It On Me,” I am reminded of the fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

The story recounts a couple of scammers who convince a self-centered and style-conscious ruler that they can make him a set of clothes so magnificent that only the elite and smart among his populace will be able to see them. When the emperor displays his new raimant to the sycophants in his court, everyone effuses on his glorious atttire—this despite the fact that none of them (including the emperor himself) can see it. Only one dissenter—a child—blurts out, “The emperor has no clothes. He’s walking around in his drawers!”

The child, of course, is derided as an ignorant “hater,” and that’s how your Daddy B. Nice feels as he listens to Tucka and Fat Daddy, who accompanies him on the song, as they smugly congratulate themselves on “another hit single” at the end of the record. They may be right, and their fans may be right (the numbers support them), but I’d caution Tucka to retain a bit of humility and self-scrutiny in the aftermath of the tune’s success.

“Put It On Me” would be considered a marginal record published by any other artist. Evaluated in strictly musical terms, the melody is mediocre at best, the instrumental track is hook-less, the chorus line doesn’t shore up the blandness of the verses (although one wishes it did), and there’s not a new or novel sound to be heard. As a successor to the the brilliant originality of last year’s “Jukebox Lover,” it’s a definite drop-off.

I would contend that “Put It On Me” is “successful” in larger part because Tucka is at the pinnacle of his popularity than on any musical merits of the song itself. Put another way, I believe it is the songs prior to this album (“Jukebox Lover,” “Big Train,” “Won’t Disapprove,” etc.) that are feeding the song’s popularity, a dynamic long familiar to popular music artists. And there’s nothing wrong with that unless Tucka doesn’t remain rooted and alert to the inspirational sources that catalyzed his original mojo.

In my New Album Alert last month I remarked that the King of Swing is tracking toward a more mainstream southern soul sound, as can be seen not only in “Put It On Me” but in his other previously released single, “Party People,” either of which could have graced any traditional Ecko Records album of the last two decades. That’s a far cry from the early, out-of-left-field classics that made Tucka a star: “Sweet Shop,” “Touch Your Spot,” “Book Of Love,” “Til The Morning Comes” and “Candy Land”.

It is eye-opening, on the other hand, to witness Tucka, long ambivalent about being labeled a “southern soul” artist, embracing the most generic compositions, structures and tempos of the genre. With the exception of two tracks (which I’ll get to in a minute) he’s content to be one of the “boys” on this album. As well he should, I suppose, plying the familiar sounds of southern soul with Pokey Bear, Sir Charles, King George and the other stars on southern soul’s ongoing, unflagging, biggest stage, the Blues Is Alright tour.

The Guy Your Man Can’t Stand may be as much an experiment as his early singles were. Yet I now find myself—contrary fella that I am—attracted to the two songs in this set that hark back to Tucka’s more unique, early sound: Fly Me To The Moon” and “Do You Wanna Go”.

Is that fickle? Maybe. What’s a guy like Tucka gonna do?

—Daddy B. Nice.




October 1, 2023:

ADRIAN BAGHER: ISM (Shoebox Money Entertainment)

Five Stars ***** – Can’t Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

The Louisiana Blues Brothas’ Love On The Bayou was published in 2014, almost a decade ago. The Brothas were Big Pokey Bear, Tyree Neal and Adrian Bagher. The album spawned “My Sidepiece,” one of the most extraordinary singles in the genre’s history, and Pokey Bear took it to the bank as a single artist. (The group broke up after their only album.)

Meanwhile, “Around The Corner,” Adrian Bagher’s first single, debuted in 2013, and Grown Folks Business, his first album, was released in 2015. Since then Bagher has done nothing but steadily hone his craft, releasing quality singles—“Around The Corner,” “Don’t Blame It On Jody,” “Willing And Able,” “Dirty,” “Let Me Take Care Of You,” “If You Want To Leave,” “Ride With Me”—routinely amassing millions of views on YouTube and making Bagher a southern soul touring star, albeit with far less fanfare than his more famous Brotha Pokey Bear. His burgeoning catalog has also made Adrian the 24th-ranked artist on Daddy B. Nice’s latest top one-hundred artist chart, The New Generation of Southern Soul.

All of the effort has paid off. Adrian’s third full-length release, ISM (an acronym for “I’m soul music” as Bagher explains in the disc’s intro) is splendid. This is a collection that’s extremely easy to listen to, with an astonishing lack of filler for what amounts to a double album (17 tracks).

Melodies abound. Production is sure-handed—never repetitive or boring—and the variety is impressive. One minute you’re enthralled with a tune like “Fallin’ For You,” a mid-tempo gem given extra “edge” with a bounce-style, voice-over. The next minute you’re in the celestial ether with a tune like “If Heaven Had A Phone” (shortened to “Heaven Phone” in the credits), a tribute to Bagher’s deceased mother done with eyebrow-raising sensitivity and universality. “Out Of Space” is so melodious one can’t resist singing along.

The set showcases a contemplative and romantic—also parental—Bagher, arguably reaching its apex in the uplifting “If This World Were Mine,” an anthem to the family complete with Lenny Williams-style “Oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhs”. But there are also sexual romps like “Hittin’ It Right” and club-style fare like “Woman And My Whiskey”. The thread uniting all of the music, whether upbeat or down-low, is the attention to musical detail. Whether the head-turning balladS “Privacy” or “You’re Mine” or the bounce-inflected mid-tempo excursion “Falling For You,” the mix of outstanding production and personable, guy-next-door vocalizing offers a scintillating primer in a new-and-better, “clean” and “fresh” southern soul sound.

–Daddy B. Nice

Listen to all the tracks from ISM on YouTube.

Buy Adrian Bagher’s new ISM album at Apple.


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