Combining classical influences with cornrows and urban beats may not seem like an obvious choice to many, but when Alicia Keys exploded onto the scene in 2001 – that combination was so effortless, its hybridity was lapped up. Her début Songs In A Minor went multi-platinum, and was widely regarded – by Rolling Stone, amongst others – as one of the best albums of 2001. It won 5 Grammys and Entertainment Weekly ranked it as 57th in their Greatest Albums of All Time list. It’s pretty good, in other words.
But what makes it so good? It was the artists’s flawless and effortless mixing of a number of – often conflicting – genres that lead to her universal acclaim. Neo soul, jazz, hip hip, classical, RnB and gospel inter-spliced together with outrageously infectious lyrics and haunting melodies meant fans of all genres had something to latch on to. Key’s approach to song writing and performance earned her comparisons to artists as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, Prince, and Lauryn Hill, all the while maintaining her ultra urban-chic edge. Quite the feat!
Why do you need this LP?
It’s an album that sits in a number of categories: a major best seller, critically acclaimed and genre bending, as well as proving something of a unique specimen in an era of over sexualised female artists whose musical attributes are washed over in favour of creating something that will appeal to the ‘target market’. This album is one without a target, and the freedom Keys projects in inspiring. Even more apparent too in vinyl form! Perfect for easy listening, or in depth contemplation. Some of the more upbeat tracks wouldn’t go amiss at a party either! A good all-rounder, but without even the tiniest hint of bland.
As a bonus… see if you can spot the gorgeous Tivoli radio in the video for hit single Fallin‘. It’s very easy to find!