Kenya - Skin Deep: The Collection (2016)

Kenya
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My Own Skin, Kenya McGuire Johnson’s 2015 album, was notable for a couple of reasons: First, the record was a strong R&B project, and my research allowed me to learn more about McGuire-Johnson and her family. Hers was not the story of someone who worked continually to break through in the industry. Rather, McGuire-Johnson is a wife, mother and licensed physical therapist and counselor who, along with her physician husband, crafted a successful life that included raising their two children while healing people physically and emotionally.

It was only after crafting that successful career and identity that Kenya – with the support of her husband - embarked on her lifelong dream of becoming a musician and, eventually, releasing her own music, including the highly regarded My Own Skin.

My Own Skin, Kenya McGuire Johnson’s 2015 album, was notable for a couple of reasons: First, the record was a strong R&B project, and my research allowed me to learn more about McGuire-Johnson and her family. Hers was not the story of someone who worked continually to break through in the industry. Rather, McGuire-Johnson is a wife, mother and licensed physical therapist and counselor who, along with her physician husband, crafted a successful life that included raising their two children while healing people physically and emotionally.

It was only after crafting that successful career and identity that Kenya – with the support of her husband - embarked on her lifelong dream of becoming a musician and, eventually, releasing her own music, including the highly regarded My Own Skin.

My Own Skin received an extremely positive reception in Europe, and some mixologists decided to take a second bite of the apple by creating remixes of eight tracks from My Own Skin on the recently released Skin DeepMy Own Skin contained no filler, so the DJs had their work cut out trying to decide which tracks to include, such as “Be Here” and “Sleepless,” and the rock influenced “Mirror.”

Mainly, the remixes feature mid and up-tempo tracks that lend themselves to a reimagining that will draw people to the dance floor, such as the pulsating remix of “Let Me,” a track that was a sensual nu-soul number on My Own Skin. The remix of “Take Me Away” begins with a lush, jazz influenced piano introduction, before flowing into an upbeat dance number that is propelled by a bouncy bass line and EW&F influenced horns.

The one deviation from the up-tempo norm is the pensive “Brown Soul.” That track, which is a painful cry of a mother who lost a child to the violence of the streets, is stripped to acoustic guitar and Kenya’s voice on Skin Deep. It’s rare that a tune moves in the direction of being understated in a remix, but anything that takes the attention to the story and Kenya’s vocal performance can only be seen as an asset. 

Remixes extend a song’s life and add dollars to its bottom line by recreating it in a new genre and thus repackaging and reintroducing the source material to a different market. However, the best remixes can make longtime listeners reconsider a tune by exposing them to virtues that might have gone unnoticed in the source material. I liked My Own Skin when I heard it last year, and I like it even more after listening to the remix album Skin DeepSolidly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
Choice Cut - V3 - "Getting Better"
Listening Room - Avery Sunshine - Twenty Sixty Four
CD of the Month - Raul Midon - Bad Ass and Blind
SoulTracks Choice Cut - Toni Redd - "Underneath My Skin"

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