I can say without qualm that I’ve followed Dwele’s career from jump. Whether it was Garth Trinidad leaking songs from his self-released Rize on KCRW back in 2000 (which quickly got dubbed to cassette tapes); to him captivating the House of Blues opening for Slum Village right before the release of Trinity; Dwele was buzzing like a star on the rise. Blessed with multi-instrumentalist skills, smooth and soothing vocal chops, and a good ear for melody, Dwele seemed to be following the lead of then critically acclaimed neo-soul singers like D’Angelo and Bilal. Yet, seven years after the release of his major label debut Subject, Dwele has been a semi-disappointing, if not enigmatic talent.
His fourth album, the terribly titled and overly simplified concept W.ants W.orld W.omen arrives fresh off the heals of Dwele holdin’ down the last leg of Ye’s triumphant return track “Power”. Unfortunately, the drama and power of that song did not lend itself to his album. Broken into three equal parts, each exploring Dwele’s ideas with each subject, WWW takes a more minimalist approach while adding brushes of the synth pop bleeding into much of contemporary music. WWW still drowns in the funky drum, fender rhodes, Dilla-esque bass lines that began to plaque much of neo-soul movement as it reached its end. While the songs are new, some of the tones are refreshed, the overall mood and tempos are too familiar. It just leaves the listener wondering if this is just music for music’s sake.
“I Wish”, “Grown”, “Love You Right”, and “What’s Not to Love” are all tight grooves, but lack originality or vitality. What makes it worse is that I could have picked three or four other tracks to say the same thing about. The most vibrant moment of the album is the first intro “Wants”: a propulsive panty droppin’, ass smakin’, hair pullin’ serenade of desire. The David Banner collab, “Dodgin Your Phone”, is also a bright spot. Overall though, WWW just seems to sit there, like a hipster at a local bar basking in their own cool. It’s a good album to blaze in the background as you spend an afternoon with your lover, or chill with a love interest, but nothing to be excited about. You wont be flaggin’ down your fellow music fiend to “listen to this shit right here,” nor will you be playing this in the music player of your choice at year’s end. What’s truly disappointing about W.ants W.orld W.omen is that it’s defining Dwele to be more of a second tier talent than the front runner he once had the potential to be.