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Review: Soul For Real – For Life

Soul For Real’s sophomore album For Life is just as wonderful as their debut album. If you are expecting smoothness and sultry R&B/soul singing from the quartet, then this album will cater to your musical tastes. Cover songs mixed with all original songs are what this album is composed of. Think modern soul meets funk and rap music when you listen to For Life.

You can hear Heavy D’s work all over the album because the quartet was still under Heavy D’s tutelage as he oversaw their album. The quartet knows how to keep their talent. Heavy D sure had an ear for talent in his days as a record executive.

What’s different about this Soul For Real album the heavy reliance on James Brown samples. The album only uses samples from James Brown songs. This album seems to lean more towards the sound of funk. Also Tony Dofat produced a small portion of this album as well.

Sadly however, Soul For Real’s mainstream fame would fade away shortly after this release. Soul For Real’s For Life album was unfortunately a sophomore jinx which failed to live up to the success of their debut album Candy Rain despite selling over 1 million units around the world. The album did sell over 1,100,000 units thus giving the album platinum status. This album was one of the most under promoted albums of the mid 90s. Sadly Soul For Real has faded into obscurity. Their legacy of crossover appeal seems to have forgotten.

Soul For Real felt that the album received no promotion and Heavy D mishandled their second album. They also felt that Heavy D had mismanaged them. Members were dissatisfied with how he treated the quartet.

Here are the reasons why For Life failed to live up to the success of Candy Rain and was not properly promoted. This is what led Soul For Real to fade into obscurity.

•Andre Harrell leaving Uptown Records to label to become president at Motown Records. Andre Harrell knew how to properly promote and market the quartet. If Andre Harrell had not left the label to become president at Motown Records, then the group would have had more success with For Life. Plus him and Heavy D being away from the group led to For Life’s downfall.
•Doug Morris promoting Heavy D to be the new president of Uptown Records just months before the release of Soul For Real’s sophomore album. If Heavy D was more hands on with Soul for Real on this album then the album would have been more successful. The quartet was under Heavy D’s tutelage as he still oversaw their album.
•A label merger which resulted in Uptown Records merging with Universal Records. Uptown Records was moved from their parent company MCA Records to Universal Records. MCA Records knew how to market and promote R&B acts better than Universal Records. Universal Records knew how to market and promote pop and rap acts better than R&B acts. Soul For Real being under Universal Records led to their sophomore album being under promoted.
•Their large fan base wasn’t as loyal with this album.
•The quartet got caught up in a label merger which resulted them being signed to Universal.

Stay serves as the opener for the album. The song is smooth and melodic in terms of sound. Vocals and beats are what really stand out. The lead vocalist sings perfectly. Stay samples James Brown – Mind Power. Tony Dofat produced Stay.

Never Felt This Way was the first single off For Life. Chucky Thompson produced Never Felt This Way for Soul For Real in 1995. Soul For Real will make you feel as if you’ve never felt this way with their smoothness and contemporary R&B sound. The song has an urban sound due to the heavy bass and beats. A small portion of funk is added to the mix.

You Just Don’t Know has an old school sound and charm. Think modern soul mixed with rap and funk. Heavy D even raps on the song. Heavy D always gives songs an old school charm. The quartet’s sound isn’t too stripped down either. They still have their crossover appeal and radio friendly image. Heavy D and Tony Dofat both produced You Just Don’t Know.

Love You So was the follow-up single to Never Felt This Way which sampled James Brown – Blues & Pants. The sound is so hypnotic and retro. Modern soul meets funk.

Love You So uses that modern soul sound with a twist of funk added to the mix. The funk I am referring to is the James Brown sample. Love You So leans more towards funk despite being a modern soul song. The chords and bass resonate inside your ears leaving a long-lasting impression of nostalgia in your mind.

Soul For Real does a wonderful job of performing their rendition of Let’s Stay Together. Let’s Stay Together is a cover of Al Green – Let’s Stay Together. The song is polished well and not too stripped down to match a contemporary sound.

Good To You uses a more urban sound mixed with modern soul. The song is backed a by a funky guitar and booming bass. You’ve been through some hard times and the person you love that has been by your side has been good to you. They’ve been by your side for a long time.

Being With You is about with that someone you love or want to love. They take their time with you. All you do is think of that person. They blow your mind. True love never dies.

Leavin’ deals with the hardship of letting someone you love go and leaving them. The hardships of letting go are not easy and are very heartbreaking. Leavin’ is a sad emotional song. There is a theme of loneliness hence the lonely feeling.

Letting go of someone can bring you to tears. Sometimes things didn’t go the way as planned. A forever long-lasting relationship isn’t always or wasn’t on your side. Lyrics to the first verse explain this clearly. “It brings me to tears/’Cause things didn’t go the way we planned/Even though we said forever/But forever wasn’t on our side/So now I have to say goodbye/And it hurts inside”

Even though this person is the best thing for you, you must face the road loneliness. You’ve got a long way to go and it such a lonely road. So don’t take it personal.

Being afraid of tomorrow is similar to fearing the unknown. That is what these lyrics mean.

If I make it through these days
Still be afraid of tomorrow
I’m not sure where I go
But you’ll be on my mind, baby
All the time

You want that person to know you love them. So you thank for the time shared together. They’ll still be on you mind. Things aren’t always going to go the way you planned. That’s just life. But you’ll be looking forward to coming back to that person you love. And when you do, things are going to be just the way it used to be.

Where Do We Go is another smooth modern soul song which was produced by Puff Daddy (P. Diddy) for Soul For Real. The vibe, sound, and subject matter is similar to I Don’t Know. I Don’t Know is about where both people in a relationship go from a certain point. You’re not always going to be knowing where to go next when you’re in a relationship.

Both people in a relationship don’t know where to go from here. That is a difficult decision. You don’t know where to go as that person’s love has really got a hold of you. They hold on you tight. Can’t you see? You just don’t know where you’re going. You don’t know where to go without their love. That person does not know about where to go next from here either.

You are so lost and confused at times. You can’t even sleep at night. It’s so hard without that person in your life. It’s so hard to try to let go. You want this person to be back in your life. Of course you just want to get next to them, baby.

I’m Coming Home featured some songwriting by ex-Bad Boy female singer Faith Evans. I’m Coming Home picks up where Where Do We Go. The song is a solution to Where Do We Go. The song is a slow tempo slow jam. Too bad Universal did not promote this song to have chosen as a single. The song had potential to become a single due to the slow tempo. Universal dropped the ball here.

Your Love Is Calling was song all 4 members of Soul For Real wrote themselves without any help from other songwriters.

I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye is not wanting to part ways with the person you’ve been in love with and known for so long. Saying goodbye is very hard sometimes.

Can’t You Tell served as the closer of For Real. Can’t You Tell is a song about endless love and how true endless love really is. The song follows a mid tempo pace. The mid tempo pace is perfect for a song serving as the closer for an album.

I rate this album 5/5*****!!

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