One of the coldest music producers in the music game whose name should be more known in the mainstream is Chuckii Booker. Godson to the “The Walrus of Love” himself, Mr. Barry White; Booker released his debut Chuckii via Atlantic Records on May 11th, 1989.
“Turned Away” was Booker’s debut single, and it still holds up thirty-two years later. A smooth up-tempo dance floor ditty highlighted the vocal talents of Bookers to a mainstream audience. Booker was already known for his musician as the keyboardist in the band Tease, so this was the perfect song to kick off his solo career.
“(Don’t U Know) I Love You” was Booker’s second single and kept the vibe of debut single with a little bit more funk added, in my opinion. The album’s third single, “Touch,” was another up-tempo number that I could see as a massive hit at house clubs during the song’s prime. Chuckii also features some creative production choices as the song “Res Q Me” begins with an ambulance sound.
Those who want to hit the dance floor will find much to appreciate as “Hotel Happiness,” “That’s My Honey,” and “Let Me Love U” all have an infectious groove. In hindsight, were these songs given to another well-known artist at the time, I am sure they would have been hits. However, Booker makes them work and does not appear to be interested in TKO vocal performances. Instead, he wants to show off his musical skills. The album’s closing number, “Keep Your Guard Up,” features Booker’s mother, Celestine, on the piano. Hence, it is clear where Booker got his talent.
As much as I enjoy Booker’s up-tempo material, I needed a ballad or slow jam. Booker comes through with the beautiful piano ballad “Heavenly Father.” From the title, one may assume that it is a gospel song, and in hindsight, the song is. Chuckii has a love so strong for his women that is his pleading to GOD for her to come back. Heavenly Father” is one of those songs that I would have loved to hear in concert back in the day, as I am sure it brought the house down every night. Booker’s second slow song on the album is the lush “Oh Lover.” Featuring an elegant saxophone solo by Gerald Albright, “Oh Lover” is R&B balladry at its finest. I loved the arrangements on the song and instantly thought of my wife.
The album’s success would lead to Chuckii becoming the musical director, producer, and keyboardist for Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation World Tour and the opening act. Chuckii would follow up that gig with a second solo album in 1992 and serve as the musical tour director for artists such as New Edition, TLC, and Keyshia Cole.
Final Grade: B+
Top Songs: “Turned Away,” “Oh Lover,” “(Don’t U Know) I Love You,” and “Heavenly Father.”
Chuckii is available on all streaming platforms