A Man of His Time

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  • RAPHAEL SAADIQ talks with TJMS about being selected by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

    Raphael Saadiq has enjoyed a very successful career way longer than most musicians. The former Toni, Tony, Tone frontman started out playing bass with Sheila E. when he was just 18 and eventually became one of R&B’s most respected musicians. He’s produced hit songs for D’Angelo, Alicia Keys, Jill Scott and many others and formed Lucy Pearl, an all too short-lived musical supergroup with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammed and EnVogue’s Dawn Robinson.

    His work with the Tonies is still considered amongst the contemporary classics of the modern era, and if there’s a marriage celebration anywhere, you can believe that the Tonie’s song “Anniversary” is still played.

    Saadiq’s achievements have obviously been well-noted. “Time” magazine just named him along with fellow musicians Rihanna and Adele one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    In the accompanying profile, written by none other than living legend Sir Elton John, John says that he’s been a fan since the first Tonies album and that after the release of “The Way It Is,” Saadiq’s solo project, he invited him to perform at his annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar event.

    “Immaculately dressed (a Saadiq trademark) and moving like the soul stars of old, he confirmed that great black music is alive and well and not just a string of hip-hop monotony,” John wrote.

    The list’s criteria were fairly simple – just be a game changer, according to the editor’s letter.

    “We try to choose those people whose influence is both lasting and, with a few notable exceptions, laudable,” Time’s Rick Stengel wrote. “The economist Elinor Ostrom, who is on our list this year, has written about the tragedy of the commons, which is the idea that self-interest can undermine the common good. We look for the antidote to this: how individuals can start a chain reaction of virtue, shaping events in ways that can become both viral and enduring.”

    After surviving and thriving for over two decades in the business (and never aging) Saadiq, now 45, is getting more acclaim than ever before. He’s been the featured performer on the ESPY awards and played with Mick Jagger in his very first Grammy appearance ever in 2011. Now he’s doing tour dates with Lenny Kravitz in support of his 2011 CD “Stone Rollin.”

    Saadiq says that the success of his career is just his way of paying tribute to the artists who’ve inspired him.

    “I think every artist pays homage to something since we’re all inspired by something, and I was inspired by great music, not just Motown, but all the Isleys records, all the Stax records,” he told The Huffington Post in 2009. “And I’m definitely inspired by a lot of reggae music…you name it, from Jimmy Cliff to Bob (Marley). All of them have some type of reference that you can hear from the Baptist church or gospel to blues and Albert King. So I’m just inspired by a lot of stuff.”

    Raphael Saadiq on “The Chelsea Lately Show”

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