Possessor of one of the most unique and stirring voices in turn-of-the-millennium R&B, Musiq Soulchild (born Sept. 16, 1977) has made records that meld the influences of soul music classics (think Marvin Gaye’s ‘70s work, or Stevie Wonder’s albums from the same period) with modern-day approaches to R&B and hip-hop. If you’re unfamiliar, do yourself a favor and check out 2002’s Juslisen, 2007’s Luvanmusiq or 2017’s Feel the Real; you’re in for a treat and you can thank us later.
Soulchild has also served as the featured performer on tracks by artists everyone has heard of, as well as those by lesser-known or underground singers and players. On these songs, he proves himself to be just as capable a supporting voice as he is a solo star on his own records. Here are a few you should check out, as you explore the man’s exceptional catalog:
The Roots, feat. Musiq, “Break You Off": Soulchild nails the chorus hook on this solid track from The Roots’ excellent 2009 album Phrenology. It’s all about illicit affairs and giving in to temptation, and there’s a palpable anticipation that brews between Black Thought’s verses and those choruses.
Santana feat. Musiq, “Nothing at All”: A smooth Latin groove and Carlos Santana’s gut-string guitar solos cannot tamp down the serious regrets Soulchild sings about (“You were a victim of my crimes / A product of my rage”). The lightness of the music melds with the heavy lyrics to form a truly moving song that isn’t as ephemeral as it might initially seem.
Talib Kweli feat. Musiq Soulchild, “Oh My Stars”: A kaleidoscope of voices and jazzy comping highlight this dreamy piece of hip-hop psychedelia. Best listened to with headphones – you won’t be disappointed.
Ice Cube feat. Musiq Soulchild, “Why Me?”: Cube decries random acts of violence that leave innocents dead and buried without reason. Soulchild has the chorus, but Cube’s lines are the real thought-provokers (“You wanna take the life God handed to me / Send it back to him cause you ain't a fan of me”).
Rapsody feat. Musiq Soulchild & Gwen Bunn, “A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love”: That’s Soulchild and Bunn in that glorious swirl of voices in the chorus. Rapsody’s verses are pretty awesome, too – talking about the day-to-day interactions in a relationship, the ups and downs. Love really can be a rollercoaster some days.