Chico Debarge - Addiction (2009)

Chico Debarge
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Chico DeBarge begins his latest record, Addiction, by directly confronting the fact his addictions led him to a jail cell. DeBarge doesn't try to milk the time he did in prison for drug trafficking in order to improve his street cred. Look, the name DeBarge conjures up memories of silky smooth love ballads performed sweetly in the high vocal ranges by male and female eye candy, not gangstas. DMX and TI he ain't. Chico DeBarge clearly didn't believe there was an upside in glamorizing his prison stint, and although Addiction is not a story about his fall, the singer's travails are never far from the surface.

Chico DeBarge begins his latest record, Addiction, by directly confronting the fact his addictions led him to a jail cell. DeBarge doesn't try to milk the time he did in prison for drug trafficking in order to improve his street cred. Look, the name DeBarge conjures up memories of silky smooth love ballads performed sweetly in the high vocal ranges by male and female eye candy, not gangstas. DMX and TI he ain't. Chico DeBarge clearly didn't believe there was an upside in glamorizing his prison stint, and although Addiction is not a story about his fall, the singer's travails are never far from the surface.

DeBarge's struggles with addiction surface metaphorically in the song "I Want You," in which an affair with a married woman becomes the itch that the singer finds the need to scratch. DeBarge also confronts his struggles directly on the spoken word piece " Chico 's Prayer." Addiction can lead to dysfunctional relationships, and that leads us to the tune "Do Bad Alone," which tells the story of a man being dragged to jail when his lover calls the police during a domestic dispute. In this case, the woman is the one with the monkey on her back that forces her to act out - she's an alcoholic prone to violence. Yet, it is the male who gets scratched up by the woman, maced and tased by the police and tossed into jail.

A friend of mine once told me that humanity never created a drug that is as addictive as woman. If you turn on the jazzy and laid back jam "Slick," it's clear that DeBarge agrees with my buddy. In this song, DeBarge tells how he was drawn to a woman despite his best efforts to go in a different direction.

The DeBarge men, in the group Switch and in the vocal group DeBarge, were best known for their falsetto singing. Chico DeBarge is different in that he sports a very muscular tenor. However, he is well able to soar into the upper reaches of that tenor range. DeBarge's vocal instrument is in great form on Addiction. He can channel Luther Vandross on the mid-tempo jam "I Forgot Ur Name," which melodically and through DeBarge's vocal phrasing will remind a lot of people of "Never Too Much." "I Want You" has echoes of Marvin Gaye. Yet, neither of these songs comes off as being a cheap knock off.

As the record's opening vignette makes clear, Chico DeBarge believes that fighting his addiction to drugs is a lifetime battle. Musically, Addiction provides DeBarge and his listeners with sweet redemption. Highly Recommended.

Howard Dukes

 

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