Lynne d Johnson



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07.31.04 12:55 PM

jill scott is phenomenal

I have no worries about Jill Scott falling into the abyss that is so often known as the sophomore slump. I realized this on Tuesday night after seeing her Buzz Tour at SOBs in New York City. The call for me to attend her show came late that evening, and I was thankful that I was considered. You see it was one of those days when I was thinking I was getting too old for being around all this music this music that is crafted especially for the young and then targeted directly to their ears. I was feeling this way, because well, on this particualr day I was feeling grown and sexy. Donning a T-shirt, jeans, cropped dress jacket, and a pair of high-heeled mules. This very morning, a young Latino man kept staring at me on the train platform, and I avoided his gaze at all costs. Eventually he approached, "Excuse me miss, may I give you a compliment?" I threw him this you better back up young'n look, but it was shielded behind a smile. I said, "Go ahead." He said, "You are really beautiful." And he proceeded to stare at me, even as he got off the train. In the words of Florida - "Damn, damn, damn!" What is it that makes young gunnas think they can step to me. At least this one was polite though.

And it hit, as it's been hitting all this month, as I prepare my mind for next month's birthday. I'm getting a bit too old for all this hip-hop shit. So when I got the call to see Jill Scott, I was elated. Finally, an opportunity to check out an artist who is supposed to appeal to my age group. An artist whose music is new, drenched with old-soul sensibilities. An artist whose music is not for old people, but for those of the hip-hop generation who are becoming the old guard. We grew up in hip-hop, have hip-hop sensibilities, but yet Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and that ilk is what we grew up on as much as we grew up on the crews in the parks jacking city electricity to jump off a park jam. Those of us coming up in a time when hip-hop was just getting its legs and beginning to walk. We love hip-hop, yes, it's true, but some of this stuff today is really just for the young folks.

So I take one of my young gunna's, though not too young, to the show with me. She's a sweet girl, a hip-hop punkster with ill flavor. She reminds me of my heyday - back in the late 80s, early 90s, and even the mid 90s. Just hungy to get her writing on. Hungry to be different in a sea of monolithic blackness. So she looking like an afro punk and me looking grown and sexy went out to see Jill Scott. This post is supposed to be about Jill Scott, isn't it?

Jill, Jill, Jill, mmmmm. You know the way Whitney used to make you feel when you first heard her sing? How her vocal clarity just made you melt? That's how I see Jill Scott. A different style than Whitney's of course. Whitney's style is more embedded in the gospel tradition, while Jill's is drenched in jazz and even opera. Clarity. Not a bumpy note. Smooth, flowing butter.

She may have been out of sight for awhile, getting married, giving her voice and music time to grow. Living, so that she'd have something to write about. Outside the venue, I spoke with a gentleman who said he saw the buzz tour in San Fran and that she only did a 45 minute set, singing only new songs, that immediately became classics. I didn't quite understand this at the time, but upon the shows start, I got the drift.

As she entered the stage, the crowd went into hysterics. She was dressed plainly in a brown checkered kind of workshirt thing with jeans, and her hair pulled back in one of those large afro puffs. Her smile, glowing. Her diction tight, and her voice like silk. She started singing, and though the songs were new, they were familiar. Not familiar in the way that they sounded like her first album, or even like Experience, just familiar because instantly you connected with them. Instantly you were humming or singing the choruses.

Jill Scott Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 is going to make big waves. Richard Harrington of the Washington Post will tell you the same, with his words. You can even peep her website to hear snippets of a couple of the tracks. If you click on "Album," you can even download an mp3 sampler. And a visit to launch will hook you up with the full length of "Golden."

In fact, "Golden," was one of those tracks that became an instant hit with the crowd, as Jill called for crowd participation. Her performance was immaculate. And when the crowd wanted more, she kept joking, "This is the buzz tour, bzzzzzz, you've been buzzed." But New York loved her madly, and she spent more time with us than was given by the house. She went through loads of her new material, but let us revel in a few of her old jams as well. The crowd was on high. Jill was on high. It was give and take the entire night. And for me, it was a great day to be grown and sexy.

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