By People Staff
October 18, 2004 12:00 PM

Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray

CRITIC’S CHOICE

The cover of Raphael Saadiq’s second solo CD shows the neo-soul man decked out in full pimp regalia and standing in front of a white convertible Cougar, in homage to the 1974 Bill Cosby-Sidney Poitier comedy Uptown Saturday Night. The ’70s blaxploitation-flick era inspires this superfly disc, which features Saadiq doing leading-man honors as our romantic hero Ray Ray. The album opens with a cinematic intro, aptly titled “Blaxploitation,” that segues into the swaggering “Ray Ray Theme,” on which guest vocalist Joi coos about “soul brother number one/Loverman, on the run.” And Saadiq does his best to live up to that billing, along the way conjuring up vintage Prince, Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield (on the socially conscious “Grown Folks”). Other guest artists include Babyface, whose silky vocals mirror Saadiq’s on “Not a Game,” and Teedra Moses, who sings on two cuts, including “Chic,” a Chic-inspired soul-disco jam. And on “Rifle Love,” Saadiq reunites with brother D’wayne Wiggins and Dawn Robinson—members of his former groups Tony! Toni! Tone! and Lucy Pearl, respectively—and hits an old-school R&B bull’s-eye.

R&B

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Rifle Love” Null

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