Like the Lord, today’s music business can work in mysterious ways.
On the one hand, there’s the trend-dependent act who steps off with a chart topping single, fast selling debut album, maybe a Grammy or an MTV video award… and still ends up forgotten about 18 months down the line. On the other, the guy who quietly makes great music, earns respect from his peers and the devotion of a core of discerning fans, breaks no sales records or lifts any major award… and yet through a mixture of determination, persistence and plain talent, continues his career path unaffected.
Rahsaan Patterson is definitely an artist from the latter school. After two critically acclaimed albums for MCA Records – 1997’s ‘Rahsaan Patterson’ and ‘Love In Stereo’ a couple of years later - his much anticipated third project, ‘After Hours’, exclusively released in Europe by Dome Records, finds the LA-based vocalist, songwriter and producer adding another distinct and sparkling tile to the mosaic of his musical life.
Featuring collaborations with regular studio partners Jamey Jaz and Van Hunt, plus contributions from Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, Jack King 111 & Devory Pugh, John Smith, Derrick Walker & Booker T. Jones 111, and Devel ‘Bo’ McKenzie, ‘After Hours’ presents a tougher, funkier side of Patterson’s multi-faceted persona than before. And there’s a couple of reasons for this, as Rahsaan himself relates: “This time around I wanted to take people deeper into Rahsaan Patterson - I wanted people to see me in a party area. I always was doing the kind of party songs that the urban artists were doing, but my music has always been somewhat sophisticated, so with that came a perception that I must be very Adult Contemporary. The truth is, I like to have a good time, I like to get out there. And I don’t ever want to do what people expect of me
“Secondly, with the death of my father in 2000 - just after I began work on this album - coupled to the frustrations and delays I encountered through the MCA label being closed down, I felt in a more aggressive place generally. I wasn’t feeling sensitive at all… and my songs are always written in the emotional moment in the studio at the time. The result is, I think, an album that shows people a new aspect of me, one that they have previously only had glimpses of.”
It hasn’t, of course, taken Rahsaan the entire four years to record ‘After Hours’. As his eagle-eyed fans will have noted, several of his side projects have surfaced during the period, including superb vocal and composer contributions to Jonathan Butler’s ‘Story Of Life’ album, Jimmy Sommers’ ‘Lovelife’ [featuring the brilliant cult track ‘What Am I Gonna Do’] and Brian Culbertson’s ‘Come On Up’ [‘Fly High’]. Rahsaan has also seen his music continue to be selected for soundtracks to movies like ‘Love & Basketball’ [‘I’ll Go’], ‘Dr. Dolittle’ [‘Lovin’ You So’], ‘Hoodlum’ [‘Street Life’], ‘Brown Sugar’ [‘You Make Life So Good’] and more, plus the Steve Harvey-related compilation ‘Sign Of Things To Come’ [‘The One For Me’].
“It has been very encouraging for me to see people’s reaction to some of those things,” reveals Rahsaan, “because if ever I was feeling discouraged I would, do a gig in, say, Washington DC and discover that the local radio station had made ‘You Make Life So Good’ into a single and that people in the audience were calling out for it and songs like ‘What Am I Gonna Do’ in my show.”
Named after legendary jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, New York native Patterson was literally raised as a child of music: his parents filled their house daily with the sounds of Stevie Wonder, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Rufus, Earth, Wind & Fire, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson and the pop artists of the day. Something of a prodigy as a young vocalist, Rahsaan expanded his creative reach to include acting, which prompted a family move to Los Angeles, where he landed a four-year starring role in the Disney syndicated television show ‘Kids Incorporated’. After the series ended, Rahsaan and family moved back to New York City, but producer and friend Les Pierce persuaded Patterson to move back to LA to try his luck as a solo artist. During this period, Rahsaan’s emerging writing skills led to a collaboration with producer Keith Crouch on Brandy’s triple-platinum selling ‘Baby’, which reached No. 1 on the US national charts. Patterson later met producer Jamey Jaz, and the two co-wrote Tevin Campbell’s ‘Back to the World. A subsequent bidding war ended with Rahsaan signing a solo deal with MCA, for whom he recorded the two albums ‘Rahsaan Patterson’ and ‘Love In Stereo’ that made him such a hero to soul fans around the world.
Rahsaan has also penned hit songs along the way for Brandy’s brother Ray J, Chico DeBarge, Christopher Williams, Donell Jones and Jody Watley, and toured and recorded with Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Jason Weaver, Martika, Colour Club, Teddy, George Duke and Stanley Clarke, amongst others.
Most importantly, however, he is returning to the artist’s arena with an album that’s sure to please his established army of supporters as well as reach out to ears anew. Says Rahsaan: “Most people don’t treat musical artists the same way as they do, say, painters. We don’t have their freedom. A painter can paint anything they want; a musical artist often has to fit inside genre boxes. “But my music is always very layered. It’s almost like cubism – if you stand far away and squint, you get it.”