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Raphael Saadiq gets "raw" on his latest album

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011

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Grammy Award-winner Raphael Saadiq figures there’s a good reason his fifth solo album, “Stone Rollin’,” sounds a little more raw than its lauded predecessor, 2008’s “The Way I See It.”

“I’m raw. I’m from the Bay,” explains Saadiq, 45, who was born Charles Wiggins in Oakland, Calif., where he founded the troupe Tony! Toni! Tone! “I grew up with it. Everybody in the Bay has been very raw as far as Sly & the Family Stone and Larry Graham and Tower of Power, Carlos Santana — people I really looked up to before I even knew I was going to be an artist. That was one of the things I really, really liked about the Bay.

“So that raw element is just me. I grew up playing with people like the Gospel Hummingbirds, Roy Tyler and Joe Thomas. Those dudes were, like, the rawest. That’s where I come from. That’s really all I know.”

Saadiq had help tapping into that on “Stone Rollin’,” with a guest list that includes Robert Randolph, Earth Wind & Fire keyboardist Larry Dunn, Yukimi Nagano of Sweden’s Little Dragon and especially Graham, who sings and plays bass on the hidden track "The Perfect Storm."

“Oh, man, he’s like a monster. He chewed me up,” Saadiq says with a laugh. “I didn’t stand a chance. I felt like a fly on his windshield ... but it’s great, ’cause he’s my idol. That’s my dude. He’s like the father of bass to me.

“I met him when I was 13 years old, maybe 12. We were in the same store and I was chasing him around, trying to get a good look. I followed him to a bus stop and acted like I wasn’t chasing him, and he walked right up to me and said, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ I told him my name, and I asked, ‘Are you Larry Graham’ and he said (in deep voice), ‘Yes, I’m Larry Graham.’

“So to be able to work with him now is like a 360 turnaround. To be able to work with somebody you’ve been watching your whole life and learned a lot from, that’s a gift.”

Raphael Saadiq performs Thursday, June 2, at St. Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and 25. Call 313-961-8137 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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