Willie J delivers the goods
Willie J delivers the goods
2018 has been in desperate need of some original urban music, and Midwest R&B master Willie J delivers the goods with his brand new single, “Sunshine With the Rain (featuring Arthur Anthony).” If you’re like me and take the music that you consume as seriously as you do the food you eat or the oxygen you breathe, then you’re going to want to take a listen to what Willie J has been rendering in the studio lately. Instead of doing what every other rapper and soul crooner has been doing to attain modest fame in the last decade, Willie J dares to be different in every track that he cuts, and “Sunshine With the Rain” is easily his most well-rounded and experimentally stylized piece of material that he’s yielded to date. This is his moment, and whether audiences are ready for his juggernaut sound or not, “Sunshine With the Rain” fires it at us with a ferocity that is unparalleled in hip-hop or any other subgenre of pop music presently.
As I see it, you can look at a track like this from one of two very distinctive perspectives. Either one, you can see it for the gorgeous throwback to the old school soul of early 70’s east coast R&B that it is; or two, you can see it as the crossover into indie pop that both hip-hop and R&B have been looking to make for close to twenty years now, both commercially and stylistically. In either case you’d be spot on, because “Sunshine With the Rain” is in fact both, and it Willie J isn’t about to start apologizing for his versatility. I was shocked, and I mean shocked, by how melodic the chemistry between he and Arthur Anthony is in this song. In a lot of ways, Arthur is the chill yin to Willie’s harsh yang, and their clashing in this track doesn’t create an inaccessible contrast that makes it inaccessible to anyone other than hardcore fans, but instead allows us to see the diverse range of tones that both artists can distribute when pushed by someone of equal talent. The combo is nothing short of splendid, and it makes me want to hear a lot more from both of them together and separately (which is the real goal of any collaboration, isn’t it?).
I expect that I’m going to be hearing a lot more excellence out of Willie J in the near future, and based on the tenacity and subtle surrealism suggested in “Sunshine With the Rain,” my gut tells me that this is only the first of many outside-the-box recordings to come. Pop music really needs artists who are going to focus on experimentation just as heavily as they are making addictively catchy music, which is essentially what Willie J does with all of his illustrious output. When you’ve got talent as weighty and mesmerizing as his, the pressure to follow up a hit like “Sunshine With the Rain” is even more intense than the pressure to come up with a good song in the first place. Willie J doesn’t seem daunted by the task though, and I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next.
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