It’s the bouncy funk of “Baby, What’cha Going Do: 1979” followed by the exuberant chorus of “Sonshine1971” that gets this latest project of B. Slade™’s to a jumping start. Since moving beyond the stage moniker of Tonex, many new fans may have missed key musical numbers recorded before last year’s A Brilliant Catastrophe mixtapes came to light. Stereotype: Collectors Edition serves to provide some of those key songs including one remixed track that goes all the way back to his first solo project, Pronounced Toe-Nay (“The Good Song”).
Fans of B. Slade™ are well aware of affinity for all things Jackson, Michael and Janet, respectively. That influence is certainly not lost on this project, however B. Slade also serves up production slices of deep 70′s funk, R&B/pop, Arabic, and very heartfelt traditional gospel moments. Lyrically, the project is upfront about his Christian beliefs as in the song, “God”, or whether praying for unity among Christian denominations (“Hurting Each Other: 1975″) and for soldiers’ safe return from Iraq and Afghanistan (“Praying 4 U”). Meanwhile, his expansion into mainstream contemporary R&B includes some nice sensual grooves like, “Dancin’”, “All That I Am:1976”, & “Steel & Velvet”.
It isn’t new for artists that perform contemporary gospel music to receive censure from their labels and their audience for stretching out into mainstream pop. Just to name a few: Amy Grant, Charlie Peacock, Leslie (now, Sam) Phillips, Tim Miner, and Take 6 have all branched into pop music. The difference with B. Slade™ (and a few other Christian artists recently) is that he’s also been honest with his audience about his sexual orientation. With that said, don’t expect B. Slade be to reduced to a poster child for either the contemporary gospel industry or the mainstream gay establishment; when he sings that he doesn’t “Blend”, he means it. And if it means music this engaging, score one for standing in the gap.