It may come as a surprise to younger Dance music fans that in the 80s, African-American artists helped lay down the foundations of what has since became an almost exclusively European music genre. Before Black music was swallowed up by the RnB revolution, Hip Hop and House musicians experimented and developed new urban sounds and new tricks of getting people onto the dance floor that in the 90s and 2000s were pretty much abandoned in favour of Jamaican influenced dancehall and pop styles.
Over the last couple of years we've seen the beginnings of a new eagerness in the Black music scene for Dance music, with artists like Kelly Rowland and Beyonce working with DJs to create Dance versions of RnB tracks and pop acts like The Black Eyed Pease introducing Dance sounds into their music. In the UK, influential artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Wiley have written tracks specifically in the Dance genre, such as Bonkers and Wearing My Rolex.
Kelis' subversively titled album Flesh Tones marks the full return of black artists to the Dance genre. The sounds are still (tangentially) influenced by RnB, but most of the tracks are true Dance tracks with pop or RnB overtones, rather than RnB tracks done in a Dance style. This is a welcome innovation for both the Dance and RnB genres, which have become over-commercialised and detached from their early, more intense and harder sounds.
I'll leave the music itself to other reviewers, but will say that this album requires several listenings as the fusion sound is a bit jarring at first. The tracks often do things that are common in the RnB genre but not European Dance (or vise versa) and this can be disconcerting. However, as the tracks become more familiar you'll find yourself immersed in a musical style that has the uplifting qualities of good Dance combined with the sexiness of old-style House music. This is the album I've listened to most since Air's Talkie Walkie in 2004 and the Dance album I've enjoyed most since Prodigy's Fat of The Land back in 1997.
This album is the future of music for the next ten years, and is the first truly fresh sound I've heard in a long, long time.
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