You may remember Dwele from his McDonald’s McCafe (their version of Starbucks deluxe coffee) commercial back in 2008, as a featured male vocalist. Or you may remember him from the interestingly written song about infidelity, “I’m Cheatin”. This song, lifted from his Sketches of A Man CD, speaks about him cheating on his girlfriend….with his girlfriend. Then there’s his feature on Kanye West’s hit song, “Flashing Lights” and work with Slum Village (remember their song “Tainted”?). But McDonald’s jingles and memorable hook lines aside, I really never heard much of his CD releases in their entirety. That is until now. In search of some new music, I ran across his CD on iTunes and liked the first 5 songs I previewed. So I decided to buy his most recent release, titled Greater Than One.
“Going Leaving” is a thumping slow groove, complete with trumpets and a swing out dance feel. Dwele is transparent here in a tale about being confused on whether or not he wants to be in a committed relationship and eventually losing the woman he loves. On “Takes22Tango”, he cleverly sings about doing the tango on the dance floor….and then in the bedroom (“working horizontal dance moves”). The song is part calypso, part Erykah Badu. The track sounds eerily similar to “I Want You” from her Worldwide Underground album. Nevertheless, this one of the standouts and best songs on Greater Than One. Speaking of similarities, Dwele’s vocals resemble closely to another much underrated male R & B, artist Raheem DeVaughn. The two team up on “What You Gotta Do”. It’s a great collaboration about appreciating your woman before you lose your woman. Their voices mesh so well together here, that they almost sound like the same person.
In perhaps his most seductive song to date, Dwele take a strong romantic detour on the CD with “Obey”. This song is sheer genius, period. The vocal arrangements and melodies here are smooth, but the contrasting lyrics are forceful (“Don’t play tough if you’re not ready/Before you faint on me”), without being distasteful. You just have to hear this one to get the full effect. “Must Be” featuring J Tait, L’Renee and Black Milk is a catchy, upbeat, boastful track about his love for his hometown Detroit, Michigan. The song slows things down towards the end to catch your breath and hear some soulful vocals. But, Greater Than One is without its pitfalls. Fortunately for Dwele, this only happens once, on the track “Patrick Ronald”. It’s his name for his alcoholic drink of choice, Patron. This song has the potential to be clever, but somehow misses the mark. Perhaps its the interlude that kicks the song off or the lackluster chorus. But even champions have a bad day, right?
Greater Than One is one of the best R & B CD’s I’ve heard in a while. I may be late finding Dwele’s music (this is his fifth studio album), but I’m definitely awake now and won’t be sleeping on his work going forward.
Check out “Obey” and “What You Gotta Do” below