Quick Hits: TQ – Paradise

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So tomorrow, April 29th, marks the long-awaited (by some) return of crooner TQ to the R&B game, as he releases his 4th official album, Paradise (EMI 2008). To remind those who may have forgotten — or to inform those who weren’t paying attention — it was 1999 when TQ burst onto the R&B scene with his first single, “Westside,” a soulful homage to the West Coast hip hop scene and its most representative rappers, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright and Tupac Shakur.

TQ was a rather unique commodity when he first arrived in ’99, one of the few proprietors of what might best be described as “Thug R&B,” paving the way for artists like Jaheim. His lyrics told street-worthy stories and used street-worthy language to do so. In fact, it was likely the hip hip vernacular TQ employed on “Westside” that kept the street anthem from climbing the U.S. charts. In other words, TQ was quite the departure from the then-popular R&B of K-Ci & JoJo, Usher, and Next, who hit big with “All My Life,” “You Make Me Wanna,” and “Too Close,” (aka the bane of high school principals everywhere) respectively.

After a few early spins of Paradise, it’s clear that TQ hasn’t abandoned his signature Thug R&B style, which is good to hear, as the album opens with the title track, “Paradise”: I grew up in the middle of a war zone, in a place where all reasoning was long gone / California dreamin’ was nightmares, and it shook a nigga straight to the bone. The second track, “Soulja,” follows the same road: This is the story, of a soldier / Cuz it takes one, just to know one / And it’s no fun, gotta fight on, like the Trojans / Come on holler if you hear me tonight. And of course, there are thug ballads too, including “Ebony Eyes” and “Ain’t The Same,” both of which are astonishingly honest and frank for a “thug.”

But two of the best, and most intriguing, tracks on Paradise are TQ’s renditions — or perhaps “appropriations” is the better word — of “Proud Mary,” which was written in 1969 by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and “A Little Bit of Love” by New Edition circa 1986. Of course TQ puts his thug spin on both tracks, and somehow, both songs just…work, which is really quite a feat considering neither CCR’s nor New Editions’ styles were anything like TQ’s.

It will be interesting to see how Paradise is received by an R&B marketplace now dominated by the soft-core likes of Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Mario, T-Pain, and, well…..Justin Timberlake. Yikes. Personally, I’m glad to get back to some good old-fashioned, grown-man R&B about man stuff, and away from the scrawny, eighteen-year -old, manufactured pop sensations who can’t be bothered to write their own material.

But will anyone else be?

TQ’s Official MySpace

– Jonathan


One Response

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  1. TQ hasn’t been on the seen in forever. His new album paradise is something new. Honestly I didn’t think he would be coming back out with any new songs since “westside”. When I bought his new cd Paradise I was shocked to hear how many tight tracks were on it!!! You got to hear it for yourself!!!


    February 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

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