|Al B. Sure! 6AM – 10AM|
|If I had to pick my favorite Slow Jams artist in the whole wide world, there’s no doubt it would definitely be Al B. Sure! I don’t think any singer has as unique of a sound as Al. Paired up with the brilliant super-producer Kyle West (who’s also his cousin), Al’s music was ahead of its time, and still amazes me til this day. Born Al Brown, in Boston, he grew up in Mt. Vernon, New York, admiring great R&B crooners like Marvin Gaye and Johnny Mathis. Later, Al became interested in rap music and added that skill to his vocal repertoire. At age ten, he and a friend performed on a song for the soundtrack of Sesame Street, and later he began writing songs with cousin Kyle. While in high school (where he|
|quarterbacked the football team), he became friends with Edward Ferrell, a.k.a. DJ Eddie F, who was working with rapper Heavy D at the time. Eddie F introduced the still-teenaged Al B. Sure! to Heavy D’s manager/Uptown label head Andre Harrell, who had him sing backing vocals on several Heavy D tracks and helped him get a deal with Warner Brothers Records. Featuring production from DJ Eddie F and a number of co-writes with Kyle West, Al B. Sure!’s debut album, In Effect Mode, was released in 1988 and became a platinum-selling sensation thanks to the super-Slow Jam single Nite and Day, which reached the Top Ten on the pop charts and topped the R&B charts for three weeks. The follow-up, Off on Your Own (Girl), was also a number one R&B hit, and he became a bona fide star among urban audiences, though he didn’t remain a presence on the pop charts. In Effect Mode was filled to the brim with some amazing Slow Jams, including Naturally Mine, Oooh This Love is So, and a remake of the classic Roberta Flack smash, Killing Me Softly, which I would argue is as good as Roberta’s–if not better.
His second album, Private Times…and the Whole 9, was released in 1990 and produced another R&B number one with Misunderstanding, as well as a duet with Diana Ross called No Matter What You Do. Al again gives his fans a heaping helping of Slow Jams on this CD too; some of my favorites being So Special, I Want To Know, and another remake–this time it’s Al’s version of The Eagles Hotel Califonia, which is an incredible piece. Al seems to have knack of not just re-singing older songs, but putting his special twist on classics like California and Killing Me Softly. It’s rare when a remake does the original justice–Al makes ’em better!
His third album, 1992’s Sexy Versus, wasn’t as successful. I myself was even disappointed at first. Al added a lot of sex and nasty talk to the CD, that I thought detracted from his music. But like certain foods that are aquired tastes, it only took a few listens before Sexy Versus became one of my favorite CD’s in my collection of thousands. As far as Slow Jams went, some of his best are on this disc. U & I, Playing Games, I Don’t Wanna Cry and Right Now are just a few of the tasty songs on this album. My personal favorite is I’ll Never Hurt You Again, which has brought me to tears numerous times.
After Sexy Versus, Al took a break from recording, eventually landing a vice president position at Motown Records. In 1996, he survived a potentially fatal car accident in New York, and in 2002, he began hosting a Slow Jams radio show (just like me) in the San Francisco. Rumors of a new album remained unsubstantiated.
UPDATE JULY, 2007:
UPDATE JANUARY, 2008
See Al B’s photo album HERE!
E-mail Al HERE!
Hear R Dub’s interview with Al B. HERE!
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