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Thread started 04/04/21 1:55pm

Wolfie87

Why is "The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker" hailed as the birth of Neo-Soul?

I just found a clip from Instagram where Maxwell is performing Ascension on the BET special Live from 1997.

One comment wrote "This is the Neo-Soul compromised into one full set"

Now, this performance was awesome and he was even rocking a Purple Suit. But this had me thinking of Prince's contribution to the Genre as a whole. I've read on many occasions, that TBODP is the first stepping stone into that 90's neo sound. Can someone explain why?
[Edited 4/4/21 14:33pm]
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Reply #1 posted 04/04/21 3:13pm

fortuneandsere
ndipity

The way the song turned out with some of the frequency range missing was by pure accident, so relates Susan Rogers his record engineer at the time. So it has this recorded under water sound.

By Neo-Soul you mean albums like D'Angelo's Voodoo?

The hypocrisy of the far-left is something else.
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Reply #2 posted 04/04/21 4:36pm

Wolfie87

fortuneandserendipity said:

The way the song turned out with some of the frequency range missing was by pure accident, so relates Susan Rogers his record engineer at the time. So it has this recorded under water sound.

By Neo-Soul you mean albums like D'Angelo's Voodoo?



Yes, like Voodoo. And the entire Neo-Soul movement that was going on during the mid to late 90's
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Reply #3 posted 04/04/21 8:57pm

TrivialPursuit

avatar

I can see why folks could go the long way around to try and cite TBODP as an initial stepping points, but I don't believe that D'Angelo, Maxwell, or Erykah were trying to vibe off TBODP to make their albums.

The song's sound, and lack of a high end, has been explained ad nauseum, so it's easy to look up. But if you think about it, his ballads were a great jumping point, really. "Do Me, Baby," "International Lover," are closer to neo-soul than anything else. And they're just straight ballads. I've no doubt that D and Maxwell, at least, pulled great inspiration from Prince's ballads for their own songs.

They pulled from other areas, too, though. Like "the Urban Theme" pulls a lot of Prince and his predecessors with the chicken-scratch type guitar. "Dancewitme" sounds like a slower "Automatic" or "Something In The Water," with it's weird chords, and haunting production. And songs like "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" is music like I wish Prince was making later in his life.

Also, you have to remember the people Maxwell worked with. Stuart Matthewman (knowin in remix world as Cottonbelly) is/was in Sade, Sweetback (which is sorta Sade without Sade Adu). Hod David has that same vibe a lot. He also worked with Leon Ware (who was (RIP) who worked with many folks including Marvin Gaye. Peter Mokran produced for Maxwell a bit, and also worked on Prince's Emancipation in engineering and mixing.

I say all that to say that neo-soul, in this case specifically Maxwell, came from a lot of places, but "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" was not it. That bottom-heavy groove neo-soul is known for can be interploited in TBODP, but only by accident, not design. If anything, it's a catalyst for more storytelling in music, but not a whole genre.

And as a note, even Maxwell's newer material like "Bad Habits," "Pretty Wings," or "Fistful of Tears" pull Maxwell out of neo-soul a bit and I hear older Motown-esque influences on that music. But, to say Prince isn't in his music even now would be shortsighted. Honestly, I wish Prince had made those songs. I'd have listened to his 2000-2016 stuff more.

"eye don’t really care so much what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they r."
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Reply #4 posted 04/04/21 9:42pm

RODSERLING

Sly Stone' There's a Riot Goin On was already Neo-Soul, and obviously the main inspiration for Voodoo.
[Edited 4/4/21 21:43pm]
[Edited 4/4/21 21:43pm]
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Reply #5 posted 04/04/21 10:53pm

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

Because questlove used to say it

No other reason

Its cos it is sparsely arranged and features electric piano prominently, and is kinda vibey

It's not Rhodes though, like what dangelo uses, it's just a keyboard

In all other ways,neo soul sounds nothing like it

Neo soul drums for example owe more to hip hop than TBODP

Maxwell has no songs like that either
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Reply #6 posted 04/05/21 12:03am

Wolfie87

TrivialPursuit said:

I can see why folks could go the long way around to try and cite TBODP as an initial stepping points, but I don't believe that D'Angelo, Maxwell, or Erykah were trying to vibe off TBODP



And still, Erykah choose, out of his entire catalogue, to cover TBODP on that BET special. And like funkbabyandthebabysitters was saying, maybe it's partially Questlove who made that claim. But I'm almost certain that I've read, on several music sites and memorials that TBODP was the starting point for what to come.
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Reply #7 posted 04/05/21 2:45am

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

It's a favourite with certain rap and rnb artists

De la soul sampled it too

Its one of the least pop prince songs he made

That prob has something to do with it
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Reply #8 posted 04/05/21 4:17am

Vannormal

avatar

-

To me, it's THE best Prince song.

I never get tired of it.

-

This little brilliant diamond instantly sucks you into the story.

You're in it and can't get out untill at 4:04.

The lyrics are onl directed to you, the listener.

As if it is was written only for you, to know exactly what is going on there.

It is so smart in every way, this ballad is a 'balade' (as in French). You have to walk through it.

It also has a perfect ballance in instruments and 'air' = the funk.

Nothing really stands out as an instrument, only the obligated groove of the

percussion.

All other instruments are just carriers for the story.

But what an amazing melody.

The way he sings it with a certain dedain, yet still very amuzing, nearly tongue in cheek-ish.

He doesn't show off anywhere on whatever instrument or part in this song.

It's a 'story' first and foremost, a late night one, on alcohol, no too much, and you have to take a drink too.

His way of letting the story details sound so visual is unique.

And not to forget the perfect mistake while recording according to Susan Rogers

As if it's a very welcome accepted 'quicker wit.'

-

Live it went through many arrangements, mostly jazz.

Well played, perfectly attached to the great Madhouse track.

But still, all these wonderful live versions have nothing to do with this studio version.

It's one of these Prince studio versions that will always remain greater than any live version (even by him).

At least that's my opinion.

-

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves.
And wiser people so full of doubts"
(Bertrand Russsell 1872-1972)
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Reply #9 posted 04/05/21 7:11am

ufoclub

avatar

fortuneandserendipity said:

The way the song turned out with some of the frequency range missing was by pure accident, so relates Susan Rogers his record engineer at the time. So it has this recorded under water sound.

By Neo-Soul you mean albums like D'Angelo's Voodoo?

Where in the song does it sound like there are missing frequencies? I've never heard that quality in it. Now "If I Was Your Girlfriend" does have some sound defects that are used for style. Just the lead vocal , besides being sped up, doesn't sound full frequency range like the vocal in "Housequake".

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Reply #10 posted 04/05/21 7:36am

RODSERLING

Wolfie87 said:

TrivialPursuit said:

I can see why folks could go the long way around to try and cite TBODP as an initial stepping points, but I don't believe that D'Angelo, Maxwell, or Erykah were trying to vibe off TBODP



And still, Erykah choose, out of his entire catalogue, to cover TBODP on that BET special. And like funkbabyandthebabysitters was saying, maybe it's partially Questlove who made that claim. But I'm almost certain that I've read, on several music sites and memorials that TBODP was the starting point for what to come.


Riot was released 16 years before Dorothy Parker dude.
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Reply #11 posted 04/05/21 8:02am

Germanegro

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IMO Neo-Soul is not really much of a thing beyond a label to market a slippery musical sub-genre. It's really just a time period of Soul/R&B music done early-to-mid nineteys. U could say that "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" kicked it off, but there are a bunch of other songs and artists to go with that one, honestly.

>

Some laud D'Angelo as the springwell for that music, but I would go with Toni, Tony, Tone if it's really going to be a thing. Their sound was brighter & not as languid as D's, but my reasoning is that TTT wasn't New Jack Swing and they did the classic soul & hip-hop blend before D's hip-hop verse stylings.

[Edited 4/5/21 8:19am]

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Reply #12 posted 04/05/21 8:39am

leadline

avatar

Only becuase someone decided to label it as such.

Insert something after "the birth of" for this song and it will probably make just as much sense.

"You always get the dream that you deserve, from what you value the most" -Prince 2013
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Reply #13 posted 04/05/21 8:41am

KlyphIsBackAga
in

avatar

Germanegro said:

IMO Neo-Soul is not really much of a thing beyond a label to market a slippery musical sub-genre. It's really just a time period of Soul/R&B music done early-to-mid nineteys. U could say that "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" kicked it off, but there are a bunch of other songs and artists to go with that one, honestly.


>


Some laud D'Angelo as the springwell for that music, but I would go with Toni, Tony, Tone if it's really going to be a thing. Their sound was brighter & not as languid as D's, but my reasoning is that TTT wasn't New Jack Swing and they did the classic soul & hip-hop blend before D's hip-hop verse stylings.

[Edited 4/5/21 8:19am]



Gotta disagree on TTT not being New Jack Swing, or at least not being heavily influenced by the sound. Hell, I'd call TTT "New Jack Soul" before I'd classify it as proto-neo soul.
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Reply #14 posted 04/05/21 8:55am

Germanegro

avatar

Perhaps. New Jack Swing artists didn't even do purely that style and delved into ballads, so there may be more of that New-Jack-Soul to go around, prototypical to Neo-Soul.

KlyphIsBackAgain said:

Germanegro said:

IMO Neo-Soul is not really much of a thing beyond a label to market a slippery musical sub-genre. It's really just a time period of Soul/R&B music done early-to-mid nineteys. U could say that "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" kicked it off, but there are a bunch of other songs and artists to go with that one, honestly.


>


Some laud D'Angelo as the springwell for that music, but I would go with Toni, Tony, Tone if it's really going to be a thing. Their sound was brighter & not as languid as D's, but my reasoning is that TTT wasn't New Jack Swing and they did the classic soul & hip-hop blend before D's hip-hop verse stylings.

[Edited 4/5/21 8:19am]



Gotta disagree on TTT not being New Jack Swing, or at least not being heavily influenced by the sound. Hell, I'd call TTT "New Jack Soul" before I'd classify it as proto-neo soul.
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Reply #15 posted 04/05/21 9:56am

LoveGalore

If TBODP is the first neo soul song then what the fuck was Stevie Wonder writing when he did I Can't Help It for MJ?
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Reply #16 posted 04/05/21 11:29am

Germanegro

avatar

Rhythm and Blues (R&B)

LoveGalore said:

If TBODP is the first neo soul song then what the fuck was Stevie Wonder writing when he did I Can't Help It for MJ?

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Reply #17 posted 04/05/21 12:13pm

Germanegro

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Would it be reasonable to put British Soul artists into this neo-mix? Soul II Soul and the like? They put a new approach to the soul, too.

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Reply #18 posted 04/05/21 12:27pm

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

There is no first neosoul song
Just like there is no first rock n roll song

Soul ii soul, Omar etc all cane out of the rare groove scene
And I think they influenced badu, d'angelo etc

But the first neo soul song proper was really dangelos brown sugar

Ttts house of music was in the mix as a retro soul album but even that didnt do anything as diff to other rnb at the time as brown sugar
[Edited 4/5/21 12:28pm]
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Reply #19 posted 04/05/21 3:37pm

Germanegro

avatar

D'Angelo's vocal phrasing is the singular thing that distinguishes his sound as such. Are all the rest of the folks under this category doing the same kind of vocal phrasing as what distinguishes D?

>

Floetry? Others? I'm not sure exactly what/who is carrying on Neo-Soul. It's mainly just post-90 R&B/Soul given a Neo-tag anyway, IMO.

>

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

There is no first neosoul song Just like there is no first rock n roll song Soul ii soul, Omar etc all cane out of the rare groove scene And I think they influenced badu, d'angelo etc But the first neo soul song proper was really dangelos brown sugar Ttts house of music was in the mix as a retro soul album but even that didnt do anything as diff to other rnb at the time as brown sugar [Edited 4/5/21 12:28pm]

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Reply #20 posted 04/05/21 3:58pm

TrivialPursuit

avatar

Wolfie87 said:

TrivialPursuit said:

I can see why folks could go the long way around to try and cite TBODP as an initial stepping points, but I don't believe that D'Angelo, Maxwell, or Erykah were trying to vibe off TBODP

And still, Erykah choose, out of his entire catalogue, to cover TBODP on that BET special. And like funkbabyandthebabysitters was saying, maybe it's partially Questlove who made that claim. But I'm almost certain that I've read, on several music sites and memorials that TBODP was the starting point for what to come.


No doubt she likes the song. My point is that it's highly unlikely any of the artists I mentioned were purposely going to TBODP to find neo-soul or progressive soul inspiration to help define an entire sub-genre.

"eye don’t really care so much what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they r."
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Reply #21 posted 04/05/21 5:23pm

fortuneandsere
ndipity

ufoclub said:

fortuneandserendipity said:

The way the song turned out with some of the frequency range missing was by pure accident, so relates Susan Rogers his record engineer at the time. So it has this recorded under water sound.

By Neo-Soul you mean albums like D'Angelo's Voodoo?

Where in the song does it sound like there are missing frequencies? I've never heard that quality in it. Now "If I Was Your Girlfriend" does have some sound defects that are used for style. Just the lead vocal , besides being sped up, doesn't sound full frequency range like the vocal in "Housequake".


https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2017/03/the-ballad-of-dorothy-parker

The hypocrisy of the far-left is something else.
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Reply #22 posted 04/05/21 7:26pm

3rdEyeUnlimite
d

avatar

Dad Joke: The entire 60s/70s jazz-funk era is on line one and would like to speak with this thread...
The Poster Formerly Known As Elephants and Flowers
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Reply #23 posted 04/05/21 8:21pm

ufoclub

avatar

fortuneandserendipity said:

ufoclub said:

Where in the song does it sound like there are missing frequencies? I've never heard that quality in it. Now "If I Was Your Girlfriend" does have some sound defects that are used for style. Just the lead vocal , besides being sped up, doesn't sound full frequency range like the vocal in "Housequake".


https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2017/03/the-ballad-of-dorothy-parker

No, I mean your ears, not an article I've already read. What element of the song sounds underwater to you? What sounds like it's missing frequencies? Especially in comparison to If I Was Your Girlfriend?

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Reply #24 posted 04/05/21 9:32pm

LoveGalore

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

There is no first neosoul song
Just like there is no first rock n roll song

Soul ii soul, Omar etc all cane out of the rare groove scene
And I think they influenced badu, d'angelo etc

But the first neo soul song proper was really dangelos brown sugar

Ttts house of music was in the mix as a retro soul album but even that didnt do anything as diff to other rnb at the time as brown sugar
[Edited 4/5/21 12:28pm]


Come on. D'angelo's not the first anything in any genre.
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Reply #25 posted 04/05/21 11:22pm

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

Why not?

I already named the proto neo soul artists but he had a pretty basic sound that characterised the genre

Brown sugar and baduizm are the neo soul bedrocks
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Reply #26 posted 04/06/21 3:30am

Dandroppedadim
e

We live in Brooklyn baby, our time is now!

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Reply #27 posted 04/06/21 4:54am

RODSERLING

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

Why not?

I already named the proto neo soul artists but he had a pretty basic sound that characterised the genre

Brown sugar and baduizm are the neo soul bedrocks



Sly Stone's Riot was released like 20 years before D angelo released anything.
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Reply #28 posted 04/06/21 7:50am

heartpeaceshea
rt

The suggestion as to whether or not it's hailed as the birth of neo soul, isn't necessary to talk about the track. The track is absolutely rich with history. It's a lesson and challenges us to choose our sources, always. Do we always need to see through rose colored glasses or do we see better in that tint. Thought provoking. I just hope my mom still has her Dorothy Parker book of poetry. That we all have a copy would be required reading.
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Reply #29 posted 04/06/21 7:59am

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

RODSERLING said:

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:
Why not? I already named the proto neo soul artists but he had a pretty basic sound that characterised the genre Brown sugar and baduizm are the neo soul bedrocks
Sly Stone's Riot was released like 20 years before D angelo released anything.

BODP doesnt really sound like riot either. sly obv inspired prince a lot, and you can hear bits of that influence in his music, without a doubt, but until the mid 90s, prince wasnt really doing songs that were obvious homages.

and dangelo doesnt sound like sly stone, brown sugar doesnt sound like riot.

hence why this kind of timeline is so dumb.

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