Wait, Are We Talking About The Same Soul II Soul?

May 23rd, 2008 // 13 Comments

keeponmovindontstop.jpgBBC’s Newsbeat featured Soul II Soul today for their incredible contributions to music, among them changing the face of R&B, setting the stage for Britpop, and re-introducing British music to America. Wait, what did they just say?

Maybe I’m thinking of a different Soul II Soul. Here’s the one I remember.

Let me check the article again:

“Soon to follow were classic tunes Keep on Movin and Back to Life which ensured the success of their debut album Club Classics Vol. I.”

Nope, they’re talking about the same group, Somehow, I must have been listening to something else while Soul II Soul were dominating North American airwaves (admittedly, two R&B number ones have some significance), because they were busy changing music as we know it.

Vocalist Rose Windross: “Mary J Blige and Alicia Keys have stemmed from the concept that we created.”

The new sound also helped the collective to break into America.

DJ Roy the Roach said: “After the Beatles, they were the next British group to really storm America. They were absolutely huge over there and still are.”

Speaking at the Ivor Novello Awards, singer Beverley Knight said: “When Jazzie B came along it was 1988 and music was kind of in a bit of a doldrums.

“He came along with the Soul II Soul beat… suddenly you had indie bands listening to Soul II Soul and taking the passion and the kind of vibe from the drums and running with it.”

“And right after that, obviously five years later came Britpop. He changed the face of young music.”

Rose Windross added: “Jazzie is probably the original of all the Puffy Coombes [sic] and Jay-Z’s of this world and probably broke down doors in order for those mega superstars to come through.”

Forget the Bee Gees or Duran Duran or U2: the ’70s and ’80s were characterized by a nation waiting for the sound of Britain to come back and show us how music is really made. And with tracks like “Jazzie’s Groove”, how did I fail to hear the brilliance? He’s talking while music plays! Genius!

They should sue Alicia Keys…every one of her songs sounds JUST LIKE THAT.

How Soul II Soul changed music [BBC]


  1. Hamm Beerger

    After the Beatles… Seriously? I always thought a few of those early punk and new wave groups were English, but I guess I was mistaken.

  2. Chris N.

    “After the Beatles, they were the next British group to really storm America. They were absolutely huge over there and still are.”

    I don’t know who “DJ Roy the Roach” is, but he’s got a job waiting for him in the Bush administration.

  3. dippinkind

    that ‘after the beatles’ part is laughable, but they were pretty influential… or a tleast i can recall noticing at the time that within six months of hearing their first singles in ’88, 75% of the jangly english guitar bands suddenly had funky “soul ii soul”-sounding dance grooves underneath the guitars, and hip-hop groups began sampling jazz like crazy for the next 3 or 4 years…

  4. dippinkind

    actually, i’m not positive that 2nd part had anything to do with them after listening to them again for the first time in forever… but i stand by their influence on all that funky drummer jangle pop

  5. Anonymous

    @dippinkind: I’ve never heard that theory before, but if they had any influence at all in the initial tidal wave of Baggy (god, what an awful genre name)then it makes sense that they’d be honored, even if done so with a nauseating degree of hyperbole.

  6. Anonymous

    don’t be so cynical. everybody in the USA on the tastemaker side in
    both black music and indie world was talking about those records when
    they hit. it did change a lot of people’s way of looking at things
    (mine included).

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  7. Michaelangelo Matos

    so in other words they jacked the same beats as a few dozen (American) rappers before them and therefore “influenced” American musicians. wow.

  8. natepatrin

    @Michaelangelo Matos: C’mon, Matos! Check out this list of unprecedented breaks used in their songs! Are you willing to tell me that this group wasn’t the first to sample “Impeach the President”?

  9. Captain Wrong

    @natepatrin: Zactly, I was just going to mention the “Soul II Soul” beat, as they put it, was not only theirs, but they were hardly the first to sample it. (I’m assuming the beat they’re referring to is “Impeach the President.”)

    PS – weren’t the Bee Gees Aussie?

  10. Captain Wrong

    @Captain Wrong: not only not theirs, I mean

  11. Anonymous

    “When Jazzie B came along it was 1988 and music was kind of in a bit of a doldrums.”

    …’88 was the same year that Public Enemy, Slick Rick, EPMD and Eric B. & Rakim was released. Plus, Marley Marl used the same sample the year before on Biz Markie’s “Pickin’ Boogers.” And, lets not forget, Nelle Hooper co-produced the Soul II Soul debut.

  12. Anonymous

    Aren’t we being a bit too dismissive here? Soul II Soul have clearly aged a bit and all, but from what little I know about the subject it’s a pretty widespread idea that, as far as british urban music goes, they’re seminal. I imagine Beverley Knight’s comment is probably targeted more at the homegrown music scene of ’88 (as opposed to american music), and within that context Soul II Soul did break down tons of barriers – I mean, if you read say “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” the idea that you get is that they’re pretty much responsible for british urban music getting any sort of marketplace and media visibility at all – which might be hyperbole, again, but they’re certainly regarded as founding fathers of sorts. And for a group to come from that sort of scene and then go and have actual chart hits in America – lord knows british black music artists still have some difficulties doing that today! That BBC article is full of pretty silly statements, but let’s not act like Soul II Soul were just a lol 90′s band that had some hits.

  13. Hamm Beerger

    @Captain Wrong: They were English, but grew up in Australia and started their musical career there. But they didn’t really get huge until they moved back to England.

    Sadly, that’s mostly from memory, backed up with a trip to the wiki.

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