I don't know how this pass through my Snob radar, but actor, unrepentant black snob and baby wipes aficionado Terrence Howard has cut a record.
And it doesn't sound half bad. Seriously. This could have been a lot worse, but it's actually kind of awesome.
Snob reader Hollins JD Princess brought this to my attention a few days ago and I finally got around to checking Billy Dee Williams 2.0 out.
A lot of actors have attempted to release albums with mixed results. Eddie Murphy abused ear drums through "Put Your Mouth On Me." Scarlett Johansson was either terrible or terribly misunderstood through her cover album of Tom Waits' tracks, "Anywhere I Lay My Head." (I actually liked "Fannin Street" and "Falling Down." So her voice is so deep she sounds like a man? I still own Grace Jones' albums.) Jamie Foxx can warble a tune and I think I still have Arsenio Hall's Chucky A cassette tape somewhere, but the rule pretty much remains that if you're an actor who wants to sing -- don't quit your day job. I loved Ewan McGreggor in "Moulin Rouge" but I don't want to plunk down $17.99 for him doing covers of Coldplay and U2 songs.
Yet, Terrence may make me toss out a few dollars for a song or three. Why, pray tell, would I, a broke person, do such a thing?
1. His voice kind of reminds me of another "Terence" -- Terence Trent D'Arby, aka Mr. Sananda Maitreya, who I love, love, love almost as much as Prince.
2. The songs are what I like, an adventurous fusion of alternative rock, soul and pop. He doesn't have D'Arby range or heft (who rules this sort of fusion, bested only by Prince), but on "Love Makes You Beautiful" he comes as close to a D'Arby song as you can.
3. I didn't hear any vocoder abuse in the tracks promoted. That's a plus. Nor do the tracks sound like anything currently being played on Crap Radio right now. Howard has attempted a 100 percent for-black-snobs-by-a-black-snob project that could fit nicely between other black snob artists like British rocker Skin of Skunk Anansie, jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman and poet Gil Scott-Heron.
You will be accused by some of being pretentious or even queer for listening to Terrence's singing/songwriting debut -- which features string arrangements and children's choruses. Yes. It's that fey. But if you already listen to Skunk Anansie, TTD, all kinds of Prince or own a bunch of Meshell Ndegeocello albums you stopped caring that less astute Negroes thought your music collection was gay years ago.
4. I will admit to snickering a little as I imagined Terrence singing these songs to me, but once you get over that initial "you're kidding right?" attitude, it's pretty decent if you're into non-traditional R&B, which I am.
Now, if only he could get Sananda to re-record all the songs and put out a "Terence Sings Terrence!" album. Howard's voice is serviceable, but nothing beats the original Terence.
Hear Terrence Howard sing love ballads to you via MySpace here!