Soul For Real, For Life
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday : Soul For Real, For Life

Sixteen months after breaking into the music industry on the monster hits “Every Little Thing I Do” and “Canny Rain” from their debut album, the Dalyrimple brothers, a.k.a. Soul for Real, returned with their second album, For Life.

It wasn’t surprising that the group’s label rushed the second album quickly since they utilized the same strategy with New Edition in the eighties and Immature a year prior and found success. The difference with Soul IV Real was that MCA matured them earlier than the previously mentioned groups.

For the first single, “Never Felt This Way,” the group linked up with the late great Chucky Thompson for a fresh slice of nineties R&B. Heavy D pens the song, which gives Jase a chance to show off his maturing tenor. Soul for Real kept it in the Bad Boy house for the second single, “Love You So.” which was produced by Stevie J and written by 112, who also contributed background vocals. I liked this track because Choc got to take the lead on the second verse.

After two strong lead singles, one would have thought the label would push for a third. In particular, the group’s cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” has an elegant acoustic vibe that recalls doo-wop-street-corner crooning with nineties flavor. Regretfully the talented brothers fell

 

victim to the dreaded sophomore jinx.

The group enlisted some big names for the project, particularly the ballads. 112, Stevie J and P. Diddy hook up with the group for a final track in “Where Do We Go .”Tim & Bob pen “Being With You,” while Faith Evans contributes “I’m Coming Home,” both of which are solid album tracks. 

On the up-tempo side, the group’s mentor Heavy D brings his smooth bravado to the bop “You Just Don’t Know.” I also commend the group for penning a few slow jams on the project “Your Love Is Calling,” “Can’t You Tell,” and “I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye,” which they co-wrote with Faith Evans. 

Looking back at 1996, in terms of teen-focused R&B, For Life should have been more successful. If memory serves, Andre Harrell, the founder of their label Uptown left for Motown. Harrell’s exit resulted in Uptown getting moved from its parent company MCA Records, to the newly launched Doug Morris label Universal Records. Sadly like many R&B artists on the roster, Soul IV Real would fall victim to underpromotion as Universal didn’t know how to market R&B.

It’s a crime that Soul For Real wasn’t allowed to do a national tour aimed at their respected demographics with, say, 702 and Tevin Campbell, who had recently released albums. While For Life didn’t do gang-busting business from a sales point of view, it is a cohesive follow-up to two massively successful singles.

 

Final Grade: B+

For Life is available on all streaming platforms

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