Albums of Black History: Tevin Campbell, 'I'm Ready'

Tevin Campbell's 'I'm Ready'
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Qwest/Warner Records

Now digitally available for the first time ever, Tevin Campbell's I'm Ready is a stunning portrait of soulful maturity from one of the biggest names in early '90s R&B.

Tevin was only a teenager when he burst onto the scene, scoring hits alongside Quincy Jones ("Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)") and Prince ("Round and Round"). But by 1993, he was looking for a new sound. "I didn't have much of a relationship with the songs [on debut album T.E.V.I.N.] and my voice was changing," he later told VIBE. "One day it could be high and the next day it could be gone. And that's why we had to keep going back in and doing songs over."

On I'm Ready, Campbell joined forces with some of the biggest producers in recent soul history. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Darryl Simmons wrote and produced the album's biggest hits, the Top 10 pop hits "Can We Talk" and the title track. Narada Michael Walden brought production perfection on choice cuts like "Don't Say Goodbye Girl" (co-written with Burt Bacharach). And Prince - having changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol - returned to the fold to cut some of Tevin's most mature songs: the bedroom jam "Shhh" (later recorded by Prince on 1995's The Gold Experience) and the biting political commentaries "Uncle Sam" and "Paris1798430."

While Campbell has been relatively quiet on the music front since the release of his self-titled fourth album in 1999, I'm Ready remains one of his most cohesive albums and a striking portrait of a young singer truly coming into his own.

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