In the nine years since his last album, Raphael Saadiq was by no means out of commission. The former Tony! Toni! Toné! member has collaborated with artists across different genres (Solange's "Cranes In The Sky", Rick Ross' "Apple of My Eye"), ensuring his marks of innovation continue to sculpt music's future. He's been a staple in R&B and Soul for decades, and on his new project, Jimmy Lee, he proves that he's not done evolving.
Jimmy Lee is dark exploration of addiction, based on Saadiq's experience losing his brother to a heroin overdose in the 90s. The album's storytelling and insight evidences that the fragmented pieces of this loss has been bubbling in Saadiq's gut for years, reaching the point where they come flowing back out as something fully formed - something beautiful, but still painful and disturbing.
Saadiq experiments more than ever before to achieve a gritty and frantic sound that captures the fear of both suffering from addiction firsthand and watching a loved one go through it. But these darker moments are balanced out by the levity of tracks like the lead single, "Something Keeps Calling", and the comforting gospel of Reverend E. Baker on "Belongs to God". The album drags you through trying trails to reach a point that is still burdensome, yet bearable and admirable. It closes with a surprise guest feature from Kendrick Lamar, still forcing us to contemplate heavy questions in the chorus: "How can I change the world but not change myself?"