Longtime fans have watched Rahsaan Patterson ("Rah" to his friends) grow from the skinny, wide-eyed boy with the big eyes and bigger voice on the classic children's show Kids Incorporated into one of the most influential yet underrated soul men on the planet. (His career is riddled with paradox and irony.) We've watched him sport blonde-streaked hair and cutting-edge fashions while strolling through European-set music videos, and then hung on to his every note in clubs and concert halls around the globe as he, shorn of hair and clad in the simplest of gear, bled out in song - joy, pain, longing, despair, and ecstasy. We've kept track of the who's who of talented folks he's written and produced for and with (from pop diva Brandy to fellow under-sung MVP Van Hunt), with whom he's collaborated (Ledisi and Lalah Hathaway), and of the icons who have sung his praises (the awesome Chaka Khan) and ushered him into the hall of the greats.
A new-soul artist with a rare combination of integrity and artistic vision, Patterson signed with MCA in 1997, releasing his self-titled debut on the label that same year. The disc featured the singles "Stop By" and "Where You Are," the latter of which peaked at No. 53 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and it garnered Patterson a loyal following, if not mainstream success. His follow-up Love in Stereo (1999) fared similarly, garnering praise from fans in the know but failing to generate the commercial splash it deserved. After parting ways with MCA, Patterson released his third album After Hours internationally in 2004, quickly forming his own label and releasing the record domestically that same year. Wine & Spirits (2007) achieved his biggest chart success to date, debuting at No. 42 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album, along with Patterson's 2008 Christmas album The Ultimate Gift, remain cult favorites that fans have been known to play year-round.
With Bleuphoria (2011), Patterson's latest release, his fans are getting the synthesis and evolution of all that's come before - left-field experimentation, center-field grooves, and soulful meditations on inner and outer space. The disc is comprised of his trademark gorgeous ballads, head-noddingly hypnotic mid-tempo tracks, funk-drenched club grooves, and genre-defying studio experiments. While rooted in the classic principles of melody and poetic lyrics, and while gently laying bare the influences of everything from '80s electro to vintage Prince and Michael Jackson, Bleuphoria pushes Pattesron to dig deeper as singer, songwriter, and producer. It's the sound of personal fears being conquered and artistic growth unfolding - beautifully.
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