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Volume 4, Issue 1                                    University of Houston

Meaningful lyrics are marks of Angie Stone's second solo release

Angie Stone

Mahogany Soul
**** (out of five stars)

J Records

By Dionne Victor
Breaking News Staff

Amidst the storm of r&b artists that sing about money, bad relationships, women and clothes has come a colorful array of artists that for lack of a better word have been characterized as neo-soul.

These artists have chosen to walk the path of Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Betti Wright and Stevie Wonder in creating music that is about love, their community and is sung with sincerity. Out of the clouds have come bright and shining artists like Lauryn Hill, D'Angelo, Maxwell and Angie Stone.

Stone's career spans almost two decades; she began as Angie B. in rap group Sequence and then as the lead singer of trio Vertical Hold. But her music speaks for itself now that she's stepped out on her own.

Her first solo effort in 1999, Black Diamond (Arista Records), included the hits "No More Rain" and "Everyday."

She has since then moved on with ex-Arista front man Clive Davis to his new label J Records, accompanied by label mates Alicia Keys and Busta Rhymes.

Among the changes in her life one thing has stayed the same: her ability to create positive music with a message. With the release of her new CD Mahogany Soul, Stone is a step ahead of others with her proven formula for success, her molasses-drenched voice and her accompanying music that takes you back to church.

Mahogany Soul, for one last time, reminds the world what real soul music is. The first single "Black Brotha" is a rarity on the radio; it has a powerful message that is not sung often enough.

Stone pays homage to black men, who previously have been run through the mud in songs like "No Scrubs," and Blue Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style." Not only is it inspiring to black men but it also shows everyone there are good black men in the world.

A track that can surely lead to some serious soul searching among singers who claim to be soul artists is "Soul Insurance." It shows reverence to those who set the blue prints for soul music and encourages those who are following in the footsteps of soul singers.

With lyrics like, "If you really know soul music you'll be around for a while/ If you are just studying the teachers kiss your ass good-bye," Stone shuns people who have jumped on the soul bandwagon and for this reason will not be popular for long.

"More Than A Woman," with Calvin and "The Ingredients of Love," are love songs that embrace everything love should be. Void of sexual content, "More Than A Woman" tells a story about a mature relationship that is based on a common and shared admiration and a love that is multi-faceted.

With lyrics like "What makes me a man even a fool could see/ You're more than a woman to me," this song will be an instant hit for those who are romantic at heart.

In "The Ingredients of Love," Musiq Soulchild adds his unique flavor to a song that deals with what love is made of. The lyrics deal with a measurement of strength, integrity and understanding.

Stone keeps with the same structure that made her first effort so popular. Not only does she have a beautiful voice but she also has something that is a rarity at times -- songs with meanings that use figurative language to add color and life. With her second CD she reminds her fans why we love her so much.

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