Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
The proverb "slow and steady wins the race" is not one generally heard in the halls at record labels. However, Virgin Records is taking that approach with its neo-soul newcomer Dwele (pronounced "dwell-lay"). The singer/songwriter makes his debut May 20 with "Subject."
The artist was first introduced to a national audience via Slum Village's 2002 single "Tainted." The song peaked at No. 31 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
For Dwele, who has also written and produced for singer/rapper T-Love, collaborating with Slum Village was like working with family.
"I met Slum Village when I was performing at Cafe Mahogany back in '97 or '98," the Detroit native recalls. "T3 and Baatin [of Slum Village] would occasionally come down. They wanted to put me on the road with them. That's how we all linked up. At the time, I was doing hip-hop, so we started bouncing songs off each other. We were pretty much in the same musical vein."
Virgin senior VP/GM of urban music Jayson Jackson says there was buzz about Dwele even before Virgin put the record out. "His demo CD seemed to circulate from Detroit to New York, L.A., and London," he says. "From London, it went to France, Germany, Sweden, and, in some cases, even Japan.
" 'Too Fly,' his remake of Stevie Wonder's 'Too High,' had people asking, 'Who is this new guy Dwele out of Detroit?' Those who are in the know and are on the nu-soul music cusp already know about Dwele and have for a while."
Among the album's highlights is "Find a Way," a midtempo, groove-driven soul track that is the set's first single, and "Subject," which shows how seriously Dwele takes his craft.
"The title song is about me looking at music as a subject the way an artist would look at a subject," says the singer. "He has to study the subject. He has to almost become one with it. In order for me to make a work of art, I have to study everything about the subject."
Dwele has a handful of U.S. club dates set through the rest of May, beginning with a May 15 show at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. He's also slated to play Detroit's annual Electronic Music Festival on May 25.
Here are Dwele's upcoming tour dates:
May 15 Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)
May 18 St. Louis, Mo/ (The Bistro)
May 23 Atlanta (Cotton Club)
May 25 Detroit (Electronic Music Festival)
May 28 New York (SOB's)
May 29 Philadelphia (Beyond)
Excerpted from the May 17, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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