R&B fans were elated this past summer when R&B legend Raphael Saadiq announced he had reunited with Tony! Toni! Toné! for a fall tour. The tour kicked off this past Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, with twenty-five planned stops. I plan on attending the Oxon Hill, MD, stop this coming Monday.
Second Listen Sunday: Slim of 112, Refueled
The list is endless when you think of R&B groups of the nineties. Per the norm, from a marketing standpoint, one group member always shines brighter than the others. In Atlanta-based R&B quarter 112, Marvin Scandrick, a.k.a. Slim, was that member. Ironically though, outside of a 2001 hook appearance on “Get Out” from his then-label mate’s Shyne debut, Slim stayed with his group. After releasing five albums, 112 took an indefinite hiatus around late 2007 to focus on solo endeavors.
Slim’s solo debut, Love’s Crazy, hit stores in the fall of 2008. The album included the hit singles “So Fly” and “Good Lovin,” both of which are still in my rotation in 2023. Over the next decade, Slim would continue to tour with his group and eventually collaborate with them for a new album, 2017’s underrated Q, Mike, Slim, Daron. However, a year prior, he released his second solo album, Refueled, this week’s pick for Second Listen Sunday.
Refueled arrived when many R&B singers struggled to find their voice in a changing genre. “Forever” opens the project, which finds Slim reuniting with his former label mate Carl Thomas. Initially, the opening chords of the song turned me off. However, as the track continues, I admit that Slim and Carl sound good together.
Regretfully the following two songs find Slim trying to keep up with trends and missing the mark. The first is “Never Break Up (Ft. Rich Homie Quan)”. I do get what Slim was going for. However, at his age, this is a song that he should have sold to someone younger and enjoyed the publishing check.
The next track, “Killin Em Girl (Ft. Mase),” is another reunion with a former label mate. Given their past successful collaborations, I expected more, but both men are chasing their former glory, and it shows. Thankfully the lush ballad “Truth Is” redeems Slim and is the vibe he should have kept on the whole project.
It wouldn’t be an R&B project without a sex-driven song, and Slim delivers a one-two punch with “Drug” and “Take You Down.” Of the two, “Drug” is the stronger as “Take You Down” finds Slim crooning while using profanity. Given his age, it comes off as corny and affects the song. Ageism also affects “Hey You,” where Slim attempts to cater to the wrong demographic. His singing is fine, but the material is mundane.
Things end on a high note as Slim returns to his strengths. “Ain’t Going Now” is an acoustic ballad with a gentle, soothing melody, soft scats, and gentle vocals that create a peaceful, calm atmosphere. “Head in the Clouds,” is also an impressive number with a powerful chorus. Strings begin the song, which gradually intensifies. There is then a dramatic rise that sounds as if it is soaring into the sky at once. “Ready To Fall” closes the project with its simple message of wanting to fall in love.
Refueled does suffer a bit of the sophomore slump as Slim needs to figure out what he wants to do with the project. While the ballads deliver, the up-tempo material is unfocused. Thankfully, Slim’s 112 catalog is strong enough that he can afford a mediocre solo project.
Final Grade: C
Refueled is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
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