Daddy B. Nice’s New CD/Albums Reviews

February 16 2024

P2K DADIDDY: U-TURN (The Album)

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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