That's the first word that comes to mind when asked to describe his music, his sound.
He goes by Dwele – songwriter, producer, artist - but, not necessarily in that order. "Music is what I do and who I am," he says. "It's my release."
Born Andwele (which, translated from Swahili, means "God has brought me"), he's an offspring of the hip-hop generation, one who pays homage to and can recite the musical traditions of years, decades, past. A self-professed devotee of jazz and R&B, he's been known to keep his ears pressed against speakers blaring the sounds of Miles, Marvin, Donnie, Stevie and on the next beat, he acknowledges the efforts of his contemporaries – think Faith, Tweet, Bobby V and even Mike Jones' rumbling from deep down in the dirty South. He understands that in music, as in life, change remains an inevitable force. "I like the fact that music constantly evolves," he notes, "because that's what keeps the game exciting. It's like one day we're rapping and the next day, we're whispering."
While music has certainly transformed in the two years since 27-year-old Dwele stepped up to the plate with his debut, Subject, he's made slight adjustment to his surroundings. Cornrows aligned, symmetric, and Midwest cool in full effect, there's no denying that Dwele stays repping for the (313) – he's just moved to downtown Detroit where he watches as the sun rises, and sets, over Lake Eerie. "Changing scenery offers you a different mood and energy for creating," he admits. "If the sun is up and it's hot in the loft, I'm coming with a hype song. But once the sun starts to go down, it's a beautiful time to make music – baby-making music."
Entitled simply, Some Kinda, Dwele's sophomore collection is 13 songs deep, including a few groove-infused interludes reminiscent of those he brought the first time around. Along with tapping into his own songwriting and producing talents on nine tracks, he enlisted the expertise of fellow writer/producers Mike City (Bilal, Sunshine Anderson, Dave Hollister), Jay Dee (of Slum Village fame) as well as G1 with whom he partnered on the first single from the last album.
Nearly nine seasons have come and gone since Dwele blessed listeners with 2003's "Subject." Remember his rich falsetto on that first single, "Find a Way," which he co-wrote? In the meantime and between album projects, he hit the road and got acquainted with the stage. After weeks, months, spent touring throughout the States and Europe, Dwele, who took his trombone-playing baby 'bro, Antwon, along, learned to appreciate the art of live performance. Aside from blending harmonies with Roy Ayers for an impromptu rendition of the ever-classic jam, "Everybody Loves The Sunshine," at the Toronto Jazz Festival ("that was just one of those moments," he recalls), life on the road brought newfound joy to his craft. "I've grown a lot on stage," he says. "Instead of dreading the thought of what might go wrong, I learned how to enjoy myself and the music."
While touring sharpened his performance skills, it also tested his concentration on connecting pen to paper and putting in time at the studio. "After being on the road for so long, I had to switch gears and put pressure on the clutch when it came time to getting back into my creative mode," he admits. "What I learned is that you should never stop writing and producing. You have to figure out how to stay in touch your creativity and just keep going."
Having begun piano lessons at 6, Dwele later learned to play the trumpet, guitar and bass before embarking on his journey as an MC. He credits A Tribe Called Quest as his inspiration. Long story short, he recorded the demo, "Rize," in his bedroom, sold the first 100 in a week's time and word soon spread throughout Detroit's underground set. While gigging at the local hot spot, Café' Mahogany, hip-hop trio Slum Village caught wind of his sound and recruited him to sing the hook for their hit, "Tainted."
More gigs followed as did a call from Bahamadia, the latter which resulted in two featured spots on her album, BBQueen. He remixed tracks for Lucy Pearl and London's own New Sector Movement and performed at the 2001 Detroit Electronic Music Festival and the Family Tree Tour featuring Mystic, Phife, Slum Village and Phat Kat. By then, he was on his way. The rest is his music history, still in the making.
So, what does Dwele mean by Some Kinda? If you have him tell it, the connotation of the album title is akin to an open-ended statement, a personal testament, of sorts. "At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you're leaving behind on this earth, what kind of love you've left for the people in your life," he says. "After my father's passing, I realized that by introducing my brother and me to music, he was sharing his Some Kinda love. It's about discovering what your 'some kinda' is."
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