Lost but not least! Maxwell – I’m You You Are Me And We Are You (Columbia)
Maxwell made quite a sensation back in the second half of the nineties, embodying what would be termed Neo-Soul (a response to the Brit-Soul) along with luminaries such as D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and Raphael Saadiq.
As a definitive fan of the artist, I gotta say I didn’t quite understand the mixed reviews which followed the release of ‘Embrya’, his second album, by the beginning of 1998. Not to mention the bad ones from the ones who talked about some “indulgent sound”, as I would tend to think it was exactly the contrary, with Maxwell makin’ proof of a definitive exploring will.
This could be the reason though why Columbia passed on releasing ‘I’m You You Are Me And We Are You’ as a single. A fact which, to me, stands as a(nother) non sense judging by its emotional content and musicality, enhanced by its Latin flavors.
Brooklyn, NY native Gerald Maxwell Rivera stands among the Neo-Soul icons along with Raphael Saadiq, D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. The tragic loss of his dad in a plane crash when he was 3 most likely sizzled his temper. Shy, if not introverted, Maxwell built up his own universe. He started composing music by the gae of 17, after a friend offered him a Casio keyboard. A fan of artists such as Patrice Rushen, Rose Royce and S.O.S. Band, he started teaching himself to play various instruments.
Getting access to a 24-track recording studio, he recorded a demo which enegendered interest. Eventually performing soon after at the Nell’s club in Manhattan. With the buzz starting to grow around him, he signed a recording deal with Columbia back in 1994.
From then, Maxwell began recording his debut-album with songwriter Leon Ware and Jazz/Funk guitarist Wah Wah Watson. ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’ would hit the streets a year later though. Most likely because of management issues with the label.
Despite a low profile start, the album nevertheless made its path thru the charts. Spawning 4 singles. From ‘Til the Cops Come Knockin’ to ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’ and ‘Sumthin’ Sumthin”. Not to mention ‘Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)’.
MTV soon after offered him to tape an episode of the concert series MTV Unplugged in New York City. This resulting in the release of 7 track EP which included his cover version of Kate Bush‘s ‘This Woman’s Work’ among others.
Maxwell released his second album – ‘Embrya’ – by early 1998. Quite strangely, I gotta say, it received mixed reviews when not heavy criticism in the press. And more precisely the Pop one beginning with Rolling Stone. In other words, those people who always find something to write even though not knowing what they’re talkin’ about! Meanwhile, I couldn’t help enthuzing about the purity of gems such as ‘Luxury: Cococure’, ‘Everwanting’ or ‘I’m You You Are Me And We Are You’.
Besides, I suppose I happened to be far from being the only one. The album selling more than one million copies at the end!
Criticism also welcomed the arrival of his third album, ‘Now’, back in 2001. Which didn’t stop it from selling close to 300,000 copies during the first week that followed its release. It featured goodies such as ‘Get To Know You’,’W/As My Girl’ and a re-recorded version of ‘This Woman’s Work’.
Maxwell soon after totally dispappeared from the radars. After a 6 year hiatus, he went back to recording activities back in 2007. Releasing his 4th album, ‘BLACKsummers’Night’ on Jul. 07, 2009, which happened to be successful. It would take him another 7 years before comin’ back with the second episode of ‘BLACKsummers’Night’ on Jul. O1, 2016…
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