Shaliek - Blood Sweat Tears

Shaliek
Shaliek Blood Sweat Tears.jpg
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Bronx native Shaliek came out of the box with promise several years ago, but had a career setback that could have stopped his progress. Instead, it made him even stronger.

The vocalist and songwriter currently receiving airplay for the song “The Past” from his latest album Blood Sweat Tears earned attention on the strength of vocals that can go from the angst filled raspy fans hear on “The Past” to the angelic soft tenor he deploys on parts of “Dance in the Rain.”

Shaliek went to the ultimate proving ground for young lions seeking to build a reputation and street cred in the rough and tumble musical world of New York – the Apollo Theater. How did Shaliek do? Well, let’s just say that The Sandman never yanked Shaliek off the stage. Shaliek won the Apollo’s  challenging talent content on multiple occasions.

Bronx native Shaliek came out of the box with promise several years ago, but had a career setback that could have stopped his progress. Instead, it made him even stronger.

The vocalist and songwriter currently receiving airplay for the song “The Past” from his latest album Blood Sweat Tears earned attention on the strength of vocals that can go from the angst filled raspy fans hear on “The Past” to the angelic soft tenor he deploys on parts of “Dance in the Rain.”

Shaliek went to the ultimate proving ground for young lions seeking to build a reputation and street cred in the rough and tumble musical world of New York – the Apollo Theater. How did Shaliek do? Well, let’s just say that The Sandman never yanked Shaliek off the stage. Shaliek won the Apollo’s  challenging talent content on multiple occasions.

He signed to Universal Records, and the label assigned a coterie of heavy hitting producers including Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to work with Shaliek. It appeared the singer was on his way. An album was in the works when label politics and artistic differences scuttled the project. Shaliek was set adrift, but instead of becoming consumed by disappointment, the artist focused on songwriting gift and penned hits for other artists.

Despite his songwriting success, Shaliek still harbored the dream of performing. A second chance came around, and his patience paid off. “The Past,” the first single off Blood Sweat Tears, received considerable airplay throughout the early months of 2014. “Ain’t Supposed to Cry,” the second single, continues its climb up the Urban AC charts. Both tunes showcase what older and likely many younger R&B fans enjoy about Shaliek. Vocally, his vocals sport a youthful energy and range combined with seasoned phrasing. Shaliek can move from his muscular baritone to high tenor and even falsetto.

The musical arrangements on Blood Sweat Tears combine old school soul sensibility with modern production values. “The Past” opens with Shaliek singing accompanied only by a piano. By the time he reaches the hook, a drummer on the symbols and keyboards that programmed strings that grow in intensity and drama joins Shaliek’s vocals.

Shaliek uses the same formula on “Ain’t Suppose to Cry,” but adds a bass line the gives the song an element of blues. “Ain’t Supposed to Cry,” like all the tracks on Blood Sweat Tears, is strong lyrically. The tune finds Shaliek confronting his misdeeds and asking the classic question of whether he will allow his male ego to prevent him from setting things straight. “Bags all packed now I’m second guessing/Is my pride worth losing you/Manhood got me asking questions/Does giving in still make me cool/Now I know I’ the problem/I never really let you in/If I don’t put my pride aside/There’s no way that we can win.”

Blood Sweat Tears appears to be slotted into the Urban AC category. But, while I agree that grown folks need to hear more of the high quality R&B like that made by Shaliek, in 2014 that slotting limits the breadth of his exposure and underestimates the potential appeal of his music to younger fans. That is evidenced by the use of modern production techniques combined with his seamless and elegant sample of the hook from Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” on the old school/new school mash up “Feel It,” or even the gloriously old school doo-wop styled title track. Blood Sweat Tears is that rare album offers and actually provides something for everybody, and features a signer who has grown from prior setbacks to become an artist to watch. Strongly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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