Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Seminal moments

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2001 at 12:00 AM

So you’re driving with your wife, reminding her that the young woman on the CD you’re hearing and the one who had the best song on the Shaft soundtrack, are the same person. She’s got a very sexy rasp in her voice and her music is pretty imaginative, for R&B. And she looks just like Detroit-born poet jessica Care moore, but that’s another story. She wrote and executive produced two-thirds of her album. And her lyrics are more mature than 90 percent of the filler on radio today.

And she’s 19.

“Cause a real man knows a real woman when he sees one/And a real woman knows a real man ain’t scared to please one/And a real man knows a real woman always comes first/Cause a real man just can’t deny a woman’s worth.”

You’re listening intently, because her influences are too clear. You hear traces of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” throughout “Fallin’.” You hear the co-production of Isaac Hayes on “Rock Wit U” (the Shaft single). Then you flip to the awkward loop of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Brooklyn Zoo” on “Jealous.” It’s working.

You gush, because this young woman’s music is rounded and nurtured. So what if she sings about love a lot? She’s honest. Instead of saying she wants the next woman’s man, Alicia sings, “I think I’m jealous of your girlfriend.” Shit, I’ve had that happen before!

“She’s hot,” your wife says. And you smile because Alicia Keys represents what you miss in the assembly line that is the music industry. Her work is the result of good old-fashioned artist development. It’s sexy, sassy and supreme to the current trend of mainstream fluff. And it appears that she’s being conditioned to stick around.

E-mail Khary Kimani Turner at


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