Ray Ray

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Ray Ray
Studio album by Raphael Saadiq
Released October 5, 2004 (2004-10-05)
Recorded 2003–04
Blakeslee Recording Company
North Hollywood, California
Genre R&B, funk, soul, neo soul
Length 49:03
Label Pookie Entertainment, Navarre
Producer Michael Angelo, Jake and the Phatman, Raphael Saadiq (also exec.), Kelvin Wooten
Raphael Saadiq chronology
Instant Vintage
(2002)
Ray Ray
(2004)
The Way I See It
(2008)
Singles from Ray Ray
  1. "Chic Like You"
    Released: 2004 (2004)
  2. "I Want You Back"
    Released: 2004 (2004)

Ray Ray is the second studio album by American recording artist Raphael Saadiq, released October 5, 2004, on his record label Pookie Entertainment. After being dropped from Universal Records, Saadiq formed the label and worked on the album, for which he sought looser, 1970s-inspired direction than his debut album Instant Vintage (2002). He produced Ray Ray with Michael Angelo, Jake and the Phatman, and Kelvin Wooten.

Titled after Saadiq's childhood nickname, Ray Ray has a looser, more conventional style than his debut album and incorporates funk. Its groove-oriented songs exhibit Saadiq's characteristic fusion of programmed beats, strings, neo soul melodies, and live guitar. They are arranged in a song cycle and touch on lighthearted romantic themes and socially conscious messages.

The album debuted at number 86 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, but fell off the next week. Upon its release, Ray Ray received generally positive reviews from music critics. Although some were ambivalent towards its loose blaxploitation concept and Saadiq's songwriting, critics praised the album's production quality and vintage musical approach. It is currently out of print.

Background[edit]

In 2002, Saadiq released his debut solo album Instant Vintage, which received critical acclaim and earned him five Grammy Award nominations.[1] However, despite attaining a following among listeners in Europe, it was largely ignored by contemporary R&B listeners in the United States and did not sell well.[2][3] After its release, he was dropped by his record label Universal Records.[4]

Saadiq subsequently formed his own label, Pookie Entertainment, on which he released the double live album All Hits at the House of Blues in 2003.[5] The live album showcased Saadiq's solo material and songs he recorded as a part of Tony! Toni! Toné! during the late 1980s and 1990s.[6] Saadiq also continued working as a producer for other recording artists, including Erykah Badu, Kelis, Jill Scott, Nappy Roots, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sunshine Anderson, and Jaguar Wright.[2]

Recording[edit]

Singer-songwriter Teedra Moses duetted with Saadiq on two of the album's songs.

Having fulfilled his creative ambition with Instant Vintage, he sought a looser direction for a follow-up studio album.[5] He said of the direction for Ray Ray in an interview for Rolling Stone, "You only get to make a first statement one time, and I had definite ideas of how I wanted it to sound. Ray Ray represents a more fun side of what I do. I wanted to have a good time with it."[5] In an interview for The Baltimore Sun, Saadiq discussed the inspiration behind the album's blaxploitation concept, stating:

Saadiq recorded the album with producers Michael Angelo, Focus..., and Jake and the Phatman, among others.[5] He also worked with singer-songwriter Joi, former Tony! Toni! Toné! member D'wayne Wiggins, singer-songwriter Teedra Moses, singer Dawn Robinson, formerly of Saadiq's other group Lucy Pearl,[5] singer-songwriter Babyface, and rapper Allie Baba, Saadiq's nephew.[7] The album's title is a reference to his mother's nickname for him, also a childhood name.[5][8] Its cover artwork was inspired by the blaxploitation films of the 1970s.[9] It shows Saadiq dressed in a vintage cornflower blue suit, knicker pants, and lime green argyle socks, while leaning on a white 1967 Mercury Cougar.[2]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Clearly a man possessed by a bygone era, Saadiq transforms himself into a musical superhero, a good-natured, pseudopimp armed with a bass guitar and a tendency to fall instantly in love.

— Andrew Simon, Vibe[10]

The album contains a more funk-oriented sound than Instant Vintage,[7] while it features romantic and some message-oriented themes.[9] In comparison to that album, Saadiq has called Ray Ray "more aggressive, more radio-friendly ... one of those good, Saturday-playing records".[8] It incorporates R&B, funk, and soul styles, as well as elements of gospel and hip hop music.[11]

As with his debut album, Ray Ray features Saadiq's characteristic fusion of programmed beats, strings, neo soul melodies, and live guitars.[7] The songs are mostly mid-tempo and groove-based,[12] and also feature rubbery bass lines and horns.[13] Allmusic's Andy Kellman views that the album's music is "a little funkier and a lot more energetic than 2002's Instant Vintage, yet just as full of Saadiq's stylish flourishes."[9] He writes of the album's subject matter, "for every song that's charmingly simple and full of lighthearted romantic sentiments, there's something message-oriented".[9] Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe characterizes the album's mood as "playful" and writes that it is composed as "a bouncy song cycle that's a throwback to '70s funk."[13]

Songs[edit]

The duet with singer-songwriter Teedra Moses features Saadiq's characteristic nimble bass playing.[10]

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The album's first two tracks, "Blaxploitation" and "Ray Ray Theme", serve as audio vignettes introducing Saadiq's alter ego as the main character of a faux-Blaxploitation soundtrack.[7] The latter track has singer Joi calling upon the character, addressing him as "soul brother number one", to "shoot me with your bop gun".[10] Both songs help establish the character as a ladies' man with a penchant for fast cars.[13] However, the concept is not sustained in the following songs on the album.[3] "I Know Shuggie Otis" is a tribute to psychedelic recording artist Shuggie Otis and features a screeching guitar solo.[10] "This One" features orchestral pop and gleeful tones.[11] "Chic Like You" contains elements of G-funk,[10] gospel-styled, vocal "mmms" and fluid, funky keyboards.[3] Its lyrics depict sensual images: "She soaks in green tea lotion / Her legs are so outspoken".[10]

"Not a Game" features a spare hip hop beat and an emotional vocal delivery by Saadiq.[10] "Rifle Love" utilizes the sounds of barrel clicks and gunshots as a rhythm section in its chorus.[3][11] Both "Live Without You" and "I Want You Back" are pleas to an ex-lover and have romantic crooning by Saadiq over a gritty funk groove.[14] "I Want You Back" also features elements of Miami bass and electro-styled synthesizers.[3] Saadiq adopts a falsetto/high tenor singing voice on "Grown Folks".[9][14] It features socially-conscious lyrics and a Latin-tinged arrangement.[14] "Save Us" has a theme of disillusionment and features sparse keyboard and a somber refrain.[10]

Commercial performance[edit]

Ray Ray was released by Pookie Entertainment on October 5, 2004, in the United States.[15] Two singles were released in promotion of the album, "Chic Like You" and "I Want You Back".[16][17]

The album debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart in the week of October 23.[18] It was the album's only week on the chart.[18] Ray Ray also spent eight weeks on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, on which it peaked at number 18.[18] It eventually went out of print in the U.S.[15] In France, the album charted for two weeks and reached number 145.[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[9]
Entertainment Weekly A–[12]
The Independent 4.5/5 stars[4]
Paste 3.5/5 stars[11]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[7]
The Sunday Times 4/5 stars[1]

Ray Ray received generally positive reviews from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 66, based on six reviews.[20] Phil Johnson of The Independent called the album "madder and badder" than Saadiq's debut and found its sound "more radical", stating "no one can distress a production like Raphael, whose multi-instrumental talents and Stevie Wonder-ish voice make him a Prince for the Noughties."[4] Andria Lisle of Paste commended Saadiq's "versatility" and found the album "softer than Cee-lo and sexier than Ricky Fanté".[11] Neil Drumming of Entertainment Weekly complimented Saadiq's "bass virtuosity" and "grown and sexy" vibe, although he viewed some of his songwriting as "amateur".[12] The Boston Globe's Ken Capobianco observed an "overriding sense of joy and mischief throughout jams", and found Saadiq's "musical exuberance ... infectious".[13]

Although he found it lacking a "centerpiece track", Capobianco ultimately praised the album as a "funk" departure from most of the contemporary soul he found "studied and overly reverent".[13] Slant Magazine editor Sal Cinquemani found it flawed as a concept album, but commended Saadiq for "conjuring soul greats like Stevie Wonder ('Live Without You'), Curtis Mayfield ('Grown Folks'), and Prince ('I Know Shuggie Otis') throughout", and stated, "just because the storyline(s) ... ceases to exist after the first few songs that doesn't mean the rest of the tracks aren't good."[7] Geoffrey Himes of The Washington Post noted Saadiq for having "a rare gift for linking seductive melodies to slinky grooves" and stated, "Ray Ray is just a collection of disconnected songs ... failing to establish a narrative. But what terrific songs they are."[14]

Allmusic's Andy Kellman complimented its "varied" subject matter and wrote in summation, "Ray Ray occasionally loses focus, slipping into moments that are either undercooked or worthy of the cutting room, but it's enjoyable enough to keep his followers happy and will certainly act as a remedy for those who don't like the gold-bricked path being taken by mainstream R&B."[9] Ethan Brown of New York stated, "Despite its faults—and there are many ... Ray Ray is a startlingly inventive record", and found Saadiq "at his best when he revives the sad soul of Sam Cooke" on songs like "Not a Game".[3] Andrew Simon of Vibe found a "handful" of songs to be poorly conceived and viewed that the album's strength was Saadiq's "crisp" production and bass playing, writing that "On a dime, the thick tones of the multi-instrumentalist's weaopn of choice go from low and rumbly to high and tight."[10] He ultimately commended Saadiq's intentions with the album's concept, stating "Ray Ray hits more than it misses in its celebration of a time when George was making the mothership connection and Marvin just wanted to get it on."[10]

Track listing[edit]

  • Credits adapted from liner notes.[21]
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Blaxploitation"   Bobby Ozuna, Raphael Saadiq, Glenn Standridge Raphael Saadiq, Jake and the Phatman (co.) 0:31
2. "Ray Ray Theme" (featuring Joi) Joi Gilliam, Saadiq, Kelvin Wooten Raphael Saadiq, Kelvin Wooten 2:36
3. "I Know Shuggie Otis"   Saadiq Raphael Saadiq 2:32
4. "This One"   Saadiq, Michael Angelo Saulsberry, Taura Jackson Raphael Saadiq, Michael Angelo 3:34
5. "Chic Like You" (featuring Allie Baba) Saadiq, Saulsberry, Alvie Wiggins Raphael Saadiq, Michael Angelo 4:01
6. "Live Without You"   Ozuna, Saadiq, Standridge Raphael Saadiq, Jake and the Phatman (co.) 4:49
7. "Detroit Girl"   Angelo, Saadiq Raphael Saadiq, Michael Angelo 4:05
8. "Not a Game" (featuring Babyface) Saadiq, Wooten, Jackson Raphael Saadiq, Kelvin Wooten 2:58
9. "Rifle Love" (featuring Tony! Toni! Toné! and Lucy Pearl) Saadiq, Wooten, Jackson Raphael Saadiq, Kelvin Wooten 4:18
10. "Chic" (featuring Teedra Moses) Teedra Moses, Saadiq Raphael Saadiq 3:40
11. "I Want You Back" (featuring Teedra Moses) Moses, Ozuna, Saadiq, Standridge Raphael Saadiq, Jake and the Phatman (co.) 3:48
12. "I Love Her"   Ozuna, Saadiq, Standridge Raphael Saadiq, Jake and the Phatman (co.) 4:33
13. "Grown Folks"   Ozuna, Saadiq, Standridge Raphael Saadiq, Jake and the Phatman (co.) 4:21
14. "Save Us"   Saadiq Raphael Saadiq 3:13
15. "Scream" (UK bonus track) Saadiq Raphael Saadiq 4:46

 • (co.) Co-producer

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Ray Ray adapted from liner notes.[22]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2004) Peak
position
French Albums Chart[19] 145
Japanese Albums Chart[23] 289
U.S. Billboard 200[18] 86
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[18] 18

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Raphael Saadiq: As Ray Ray". The Sunday Times (Times Newspapers Ltd). November 7, 2004. Music section. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ollison, Richard D. (November 4, 2004). "Saadiq polishes his love of the '70s with 'Ray Ray'". The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore: Tribune Company). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Brown, Ethan (May 21, 2005). "Raphael Saadiq - Lady Saw". New York (New York Media). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Johnson, Phil (October 17, 2004). "DISCS: R&B HHHHI Raphael Saadiq ...as Ray Ray POOKIE ENTERTAINMENT". The Independent (Independent Print Limited). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Dansby, Andrew (July 15, 2004). "Saadiq Unveils "Ray Ray"". Rolling Stone (Jann S. Wenner). Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Raphael Saadiq - All Hits At The House Of Blues CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Cinquemani, Sal (October 8, 2004). "Raphael Saadiq: Ray Ray". Slant Magazine. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Mitchell, Gail (September 18, 2004). "Saadiq Skeds Solo Set". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media): 34. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Kellman, Andy. "Ray Ray - Raphael Saadiq". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Simon, Andrew (November 2004). "Raphael Saadiq: Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray". Vibe (New York: VIBE/SPIN Ventures) 12 (11): 159–160. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Lisle, Andria (February 2005). "Review :: Raphael Saadiq - Ray Ray :: Pookie Entertainment". Paste (Paste Media Group) (14). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Drumming, Neil (October 8, 2004). "Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray Review". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Capobianco, Ken (October 8, 2004). "CD Report". The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c d Himes, Geoffrey (November 5, 2004). "RAPHAEL SAADIQ "Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray" Pookie". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Weekend section, p. 7. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "Ray Ray: Raphael Saadiq". Amazon.com. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  16. ^ Chic Like You (Media notes). Raphael Saadiq. Pookie Entertainment. 2004. 9038-CHIC-1. 
  17. ^ I Want You Back (Media notes). Raphael Saadiq. Pookie Entertainment. 2004. PKE-2002. 
  18. ^ a b c d e "Ray Ray - Raphael Saadiq". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "Raphael Saadiq - As Ray Ray" (in French). lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Ray Ray Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  21. ^ Raphael Saadiq - Ray Ray. Pookie Entertainment. PKE-1004
  22. ^ Ray Ray (CD liner). Raphael Saadiq. Pookie Entertainment. POOKIECD2. 
  23. ^ "ラファエル・サーディクのCDアルバムランキング、ラファエル・サーディクのプロフィールならオリコン芸能人事典" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 

External links[edit]