Brown Sugar

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D'Angelo's masterpiece debut album Brown Sugar was originally released in July 1995. The title track, Brown Sugar, oozes into the ears with dark, gooey, molasses-like texture. Bolstered by the smoky sounds of a tricky old stage organ, D'Angelo sets the mood here for the rest of his album; his highly agile falsetto vocals merge with the gutbucket rhythm melange. The album's centrepiece efforts, Me and Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine, Shit, Damn, Motherfucker and Cruisin, prove that there is some mettle behind D'Angelo's retrograde stylistics. Dreamin cuts loose an ethereal groove coloured with live drums and meaty rhythm guitar that extends for eternity; the sinister Motherfucker underwhelms with its subtlety but becomes more intriguing once you realise the smoove lyrics are about an O.J.- like lover killing his best friend and wife. Cruisin strokes the Smokey Robinson blue-light classic with D'Angelo's own touch but doesn't ruffle it. If you love Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Prince - this is up there.