When I hear good music, I realize it has the ability to take me out of the audio experience, and into a visual wonderland. The way the instruments collide, the movement of the bass and rhythm, and the overlay of the artist's voice create another dimension of experience.
When I hear good music, it inspires dialogue, it motivates creativity, and reveals storylines to me. As an author, I thrive on receiving new lyrics, and intricate sounds. As a music-lover, I appreciate receiving new creations and allowing them to transport me beyond the CD. Beyond the liner notes.
When I hear good music, I realize that there's nothing else in the world that can tell a story, and explain an emotion or personal journey, like music can.
Tyrese is an actor, and has the gift of storytelling, so as a songwriter, his talent is evident with the way this musical plot moves and develops. It is more than just an album, it is an experience.
If Tyrese Gibson's 5th studio release "Open Invitation" (2011) was a movie, I believe it would tell the story of love, passion, self-reflection, and how a confident but sensitive man reaches out to the woman that completes his experience. Through a series of thoughts, confessions, descriptions, and rhythms, the album took me on a journey, with each song providing an independent soundtrack to a specific moment. Each song created a picture in my mind of what the music would translate into, if it were life depicted on screen or in fiction.
I'M HOME (feat. Jay Rock) ~ The credits role, the profile of a strong chocolate brothers enters the frame. You see the physical perfection, but you sense the emotional sensitivity, and the romantic hesitance. You hear his declarations as he introduces himself to the moment. He takes his place. The song rings of morning, of an awakening, and a new beginning. His face is reflective as he states who he is, introduces his intentions, and presents himself to the world... he is here. He is home.
I GOTTA CHICK (feat. R. Kelly & Rick Ross) ~ And what is the male protagonist of a story, without the introduction of his beautiful female counterpart? We meet the lady of his attraction, and listen to him describe why she is worthy. She's down for him. That's why he "fu*ks with her," he declares. The sound has that southern California bounce, that familiar sunshine aura, and is a mellow but funky groove that lets us know that something's about to go down. Something is brewing...
STAY ~ And the familiar sounds of a familiar hit are refreshing. It's the official introduction to this story. The title screen, and the beginning of the romance. He is a little apologetic, and acknowledges that he is a flawed man, but still promises to do whatever it takes to win the affection of his love. His intentions are deep. In a classic but powerful soul tune, he isn't too proud to beg, and knows what he may have previously lost in this woman. He is willing to now go that extra mile, to make her smile...he's ready.
BEST OF ME ~ The mood becomes joyful, the sounds are motivating, positive, and lively. He is happy to have this woman in his life. He believes she is sent from God to slow him down. He craves her support, for she gives him strength. This is a song of praise, a song of recognition, and a song of understanding. He knows that this woman is bringing renewed life and spirit to him, and he celebrates this...
NOTHING ON YOU ~ At this point, our male protagonist has fallen in love. You can hear it in his voice. You can feel it in the rhythm. He tells her: "You stole my heart, so I can't go far." He feels good, and his mood is complemented by the heavy bass of this good, old-fashioned slow jam. It's a moment. There is movement. He realizes that the other women have nothing on her. They don't even compare...
ONE NIGHT ~ So the brother is feeling good! He's in a good place. He has his lady. Life is nice! He's ready to hit up the club, catch a vibe, and enjoy the moment. You can feel the energy...it's sexy, it's light...something wonderful is on the verge of happening. He's taking a break, he's pausing to soak in the stage of his relationship, and celebrate it out on the town with his people. He reminices over when he first met his love, and how he had to prove himself to her. His seduction is deliberate, but still light, and confident. He knows what he has...yet he wants to make sure she knows that "what [he] has...will mess [her] mind up". Cause when this party is over, when he's finished riding this beat, and popping those bottles...it's about to be taken to another level...
IT'S ALL ON ME ~ Our main character is contemplative now. He's got big plans, making big promises, and preparing for a deep seduction. He's ready to put everything out there for this woman. He's being boasie (as my Jamaicans would say), and he's flaunting what he's got. He's dancing. He's bouncing. He's riding that beat. He's saying yeah, I've got the money, and yeah I can take you where I need to take you...but guess what? She's worth it. And guess what? She can have it all. He needs her more than he needs these prizes, and he's willing to give her his riches. He has the money...but the money means nothing. He's feeling good, the rhythm is dictating his mood...and it's all about the value of her womanhood. She's priceless.
TOO EASY (Feat. Ludacris) ~ So he's given up the riches (in theory) and let this woman know her value. Now: he's remembering his manhood. The sound is grimy; he's feeling grimy! He's back at the club, and he's back in the fast lane. He's not dancing, but he's definitely grooving. He's having a ball...but he's ready for what's next. He's cool, he's re-claiming his status. He's remembering his roots for a minute, because he's been working hard. He's been grinding. He's "doing it big, and hustling hard". He "makes it look too easy" and he knows it. He is proud, of himself...
TAKEOVER ~ We hear the thoughtful, light groove. The music is hopeful. It's reassuring. He's anxious. He's been preparing for a while, but he's ready to takeover. He's driving with a slight lean; he's ready to take full control and solidify his plans. "You don't have to worry," he says, because he finally has it under control, mentally. You can hear the confidence. You can feel it...
I MISS THAT GIRL ~ And while he drives in preparation for the takeover, he reflects back to the woman in his life, and the journey they've taken. He remembers when he didn't have her. He remembers why he now appreciates her so much. It's a sad, reflective soulful anthem with a combination of horns that makes you feel how his heart is fluctuating, and longing. He reflects on how lonely he was without her. He realizes to himself, "where would I be without [her]?" He feels the magnitude of the moment...and knows there was a time when he couldn't bear being without her. He never wants to be in that place again...
INTERLUDE ~ Oh, it's about to go down! It's sexy. It's a late-night phone call between the two lovers, and although there's light-hearted and playful banter between them, the deep baritone voice, the teasing tones, and the seductive language let's you know exactly what time it is.
MAKE LOVE ~ Mmmm! Without lyrics, the music alone sets the mood for a subtle yet agressive session of deep connection, heavy breathing, soothing voices, comforting whispers, and the strong vocals of a man carefully pleading for intimacy and easily receiving it. All of the contemplations and previous experiences have all come down to this one moment. Simplicity. A chorus of polite invitation. Harmonies of a mellow pleasure. Details of an expert lover. The passion sounds evident. The heat is evident.
ANGEL (feat. Candace) ~ And the love making smoothly transitions into the after-glow. The same slow-paced snap and bass rhythm. The same vibrato keyboards. The same background vocals, smoothly calling out in joy. And it's now become a spiritual experience. He has planned and worked his way into his woman's life, and now he is giving thanks. Now he is singing out in satisfaction, and now he is joined by a female voice: an angelic complement to his vocal gratitude. He describes how he's opened up. He proudly declares his love. He describes his divine viewing "like a vision from the sky" and is motivated to share his discovery. He has been moved, for he has been to heaven.
WALK ~ And at the end of our character's journey, he asks you to walk with him. He wants to talk to you. He has been through a phenomenal experience, of love, that represents one person's connection to another. But now it's time to take a step back, and analyze what that connection means. To understand how one gets to that point where they're in a position to accept and appreciate that type of connection. And in a prayer to the Lord, Tyrese, our character in this fictional journey, opens himself up to his fans, and to his God. He is on his knees, praying. And in a sultry tone, with comforting words of wisdom, he speaks to us...the listener. The passion has come, the epiphanies have been reached, and now...he just wants to walk.
And as he walks, he acknowledges that he is thankful for his blessings. He asks God for clarity, and suggests we also seek that life is revealed to us. He addresses his insecurities, and his beliefs in God's plans and gifts. He "finds comfort in discomfort." He looks at the people he spends time with and accepts that his life will be a direct reflection of his surroundings. He becomes a dub poet and a preacher, a friend and a voice of reason.
He walks. He has placed his soul onto the tracks, shared the strength of his voice that is easily comparable to the legendary R&B crooners of our present and past. He celebrates the power of love and partnership, acknowledges the hard work he put in to get there, and then winds down to say thank you. He has let the music uplift the audience, and his voice summarize the listening experience.
If this album "Open Invitation" was a movie, it would bring us through the emotions of life, naturally, and conclude with an open end...and an opportunity to take away whatever conclusion our spirit desired at that very moment.
At the moment of taking in this album today, my spirit needed to hear the sounds of comfort, his voice of seduction, be reminded of the possibilities of true love and its bountiful benefits, and of course conclude with the focus on the Creator. Conclude knowing that none of these experiences--artistic or otherwise--would be enjoyed without His divine direction.
When I hear good music...I feel the spirit. When I feel the spirit, I feel alive. It is my drug! My sustenance. I am grateful for those who have been given the gifts to write, sing, produce, and share it. Therefore I gladly accept Mr. Gibson's "open invitation" to take part in this classical musical moment in time.
Next up...I review his New York Times Bestselling book: "How To Get Out Of Your Own Way."
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.