photo & text by nacrowe
R&B singer SADE is one of those artists that is a bit of a litmus test for me in that if you cant appreciate her music, i want nothing to do with you. essentially because that would would make you soulless and are effective dead inside. in estimation, SADE is the very embodiment of cool sophistication and effortless sensuality and DIAMOND LIFE (EPIC, 1984) is her high watermark on record. with songs like "YOUR LOVE IS KING," "HANG ON TO YOUR LOVE" and of course "SMOOTH OPERATOR," it is hard not to be caught under the spell of her voice.
i think it was probably my last year of high school or first year of college where effectively i sought out music that vastly different than what my friends and i listened to at the time, which was mainly derivative of ALTERNATIVE ROCK, PUNK, METAL and HARDCORE. this is the period that TRIP HOP, SHOEGAZE, BEBOP, KRAUTROCK, BRITPOP, ALTERNATIVE HIP HOP and FUNK really started to come into the picture. in that context SADE really stood out since her vibe was decidedly laid back and came from a SMOOTH JAZZ background that i was totally alien to. probably still am. in fact, SADE is such a singular artist that i cannot think of another similar artist as beloved in her genre. in less capable hands, her music couldve easily stumbled into MUZAK, and not in a good way. i really think its the sensuality of her voice that makes DIAMOND LIFE and subsequent releases so intoxicating. to this day if i am ever feeling stressed, listening to SADE is something that always calms me down and makes me self-reflective.
so for me the music of SADE is absolutely essential. most definitely worth further investigation.
its pretty cool to learn that SADE was born in the NIGERIAN city of IBADAN, which is just north of LAGOS where i lived in the mid 1990s while in middle school. there is a famous university that dates back to the BRITISH COLONIAL period in IBADAN, as well as a golf course that i caddied for my mom at numerous times. there was also the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF TROPICAL AGRICAULTURE (IITA) located in IBADAN that was where new strains of plant life was experimented on by scientists from international governments and corporations alike. for all of us visiting from LAGOS, IITA served as a weekend retreat complete with swimming pools, tennis courts and restaurants. it was from here that a friend of mine from school almost got caught up in a roundup of political opponents of then-military dictator SANI ABACHA, who were summarily executed. they missed such by a few hours apparently.
regardless, it is always a pleasure to learn about new connections with places you have a history with. now i have a new association with the town of IBADAN.