Raphael Saadiq is an artist who’s had tremendous success in all aspects of the music business: as a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer. And it seems, this is only the beginning for the Oakland, California native formerly known as Charlie Ray Wiggins.
Already a gifted musician by the time he was a teenager, Saadiq was nabbed by Prince to perform as a bassist for his 1984 Parade Tour. Then came the formation of Tony Toni Tone, a red hot soul band featuring Saadiq as the lead singer, brother D’wayne Wiggins on guitar, and cousin Tim Reid on drums. The Tonyies were a success right out of the gate, with too many top ten hits to mention and record sales totaling 6 million. Saadiq’s voice and songwriting talents were largely responsible for the Tonyies success. When the trio disbanded to pursue individual ventures, Saadiq laid low for a while, then returned to the scene as a producer, striking music gold with songs for Total, D’angelo, Angie Stone, The Roots, Bilal, and The Isley Brothers, just to name a few. With a discography that’s like a who’s who of R&B, Saadiq hasn’t limited his writing and producing talent to soul music. He’s done songs for rappers Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, and Nappy Roots, and rocker John Mellencamp.
After making a super soul record as one-third of the group, Lucy Pearl, Saadiq’s first solo record came in 2002, with the well-received, Instant Vintage. Released on his own Pookie Entertainment label, the record lived up to its title and showcased Saadiq’s self-proclaimed “gospeldelic” sound. Instant Vintage also helped Saadiq make history as the first independent artist to be nominated for a Grammy.
His 2004 release, "Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray," casts Saadiq as a 70s blackploitation era player taking us on a fun musical trip in his pimped-out Mercury Cougar. The funky, uptempo ride that is Ray Ray contains plenty of memorable soul ditties including "This One," "Chic Like You," and "Live Without You." We even get treated to a simultaneous Tonyies and Lucy Pearl reunion with Rifle Life, featuring D’wayne Wiggins and Dawn Robinson. Just when you think the party won’t stop, the record ends on a surprisingly serious note with a pair of cautionary anthems: the Curts Mayfieldesque “Grown Folks,” and the even more somber “Save Us.”
With another solo record in the works and talk of two reunion records in the future—Tony Toni Tone and Lucy Pearl respectively, Saadiq’s demand as a songwriter and producer continues to take center stage, with his work featured on new records by Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Earth, Wind, & Fire, and Sunshine Anderson.
At a time when mainstream, commercial success in the music industry usually comes at a big price creatively, Saadiq is clearly doing things on his own terms. He’s an independent artist in every sense of the word and his record label and recording studio make him an in-demand one-man music enterprise.
Saadiq spoke recently about the struggle facing today’s independent artists, what makes a good music producer, and why he dislikes the term “neo-soul” so much.
For more information about Raphael Saadiq, visit http://www.raphaelsaadiq.com