Teedra Moses: Be Your Girl & No More Tears

From Complex Simplicity

Adriana Evans: Reality & In the Sun

From Adriana Evans (RCA, 1997)

My man Hua was the first to put me up on Teedra Moses when he played me her song, “Be Your Girl.” I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I liked about the song…Teedra’s a decent singer certainly, has a Mary J. Blige-esque quality to her voice (you can definitely hear this on “No More Tears”), but it wasn’t really her vocals that drew my interest. Then it dawned on me – the production of “Be Your Love,” reminded me of something that Adriana Evans might have done.

I’ve always been a fan of Evans and her debut album from ’97. I understand why her career never took off – compared to other neo-soul artists breaking out at the time, most notably Erykah Badu – Evans’ vocal presence was a bit too bright, lacking the gravitas that fans gravitate towards in singers like Badu or Jill Scott or Angie Stone, etc. But Evans’ voice had a light, pretty quality all its own and what she really had going for her was an ex-boyfriend, Dred Scott(1), who was able to lace her with these beautiful productions (just listen to “In the Sun” – so fantastic). Scott’s tracks that were undeniably hip-hop in their heritage (his sampling aesthetic for example) but angled for sou and manages the weave the two together seamlessly. Compare that with what we’ve come to expect: take a famous hip-hop beat and then put an R&B singer over it, finis. Scott’s production finds that elusive middle-ground and I think, on some of Moses’ songs, she’s able to find that same groove too.

1. Scott had a brief career as a rapper, starting with a cut off the Deep Cover soundtrack, then in ’94 with Breakin’ Combs, his one and only album.