Taking a look around these days, it wouldn't be too much of a leap to assume that plenty of folks don't mind letting it all hang out: exposing oneself at every opportunity seems to be how some people build relationships, notoriety, and in many cases, careers, so being naked doesn't draw as much shock and awe as it used to....unless, instead of exposing merely skin, you're showing unfiltered glimpses of your heart and soul. This is what Lee Williams accomplishes on this sprawling solo effort, appropriately entitled Naked since he is, through multiple music styles and insightful, intelligent prose, sharing intimate thoughts and feelings about the political, passionate and personal aspects of his life.
Those familiar with his previous work as the co-founder of the alternative soul outfit, The Square Egg, already know that Mr. Williams' approach is a kaleidoscopic one. Employing true instruments and expounding on everything from rants, dreams, wishes and musings, the rapper, poet, singer and musician recites verses that can be tender and sensual, but for the most part, don't water down his point of view for the sake of political correctness or palatability. "Crazy," for example, has deceptively soothing jazz undertones, but posits him as an adversary against his one-time lady love as the two fuss about their deteriorating relationship: "Now if the way I treat you Girl is so wrong, why in the hell you mess with me for so long?/Why you ain't tell me to take my sorry *** on?/If I'm so awful then you shoulda been gone." The chorus, instead of fading out against an instrumental backdrop, abruptly ends with shots fired. "Woke Up Hwite" runs through the actions of a brother who woke up Caucasian, notices the difference in how he's being treated and decides to "take advantage of this ****ed-up situation," and the meandering "Time" is a cautionary tale shadowing a girl as she reaps the consequences of a quick and careless moment: "The nurse calls her name so now it's time, to get results she had to wait such a long time/ Please Lord, please not me this time....if I could I'd do things different this time."
A double-disc set (some tracks overlap from a previous Square Egg release, The Wooden Tongue) that is both edgy and eclectic, Lee's Naked is as ambitious as it is unconventional, functioning as a prism that reflects his experiences through his uniquely witty perspective, which will induce moments that each listener will experience in their own way. Some tracks don't go down as smoothly as they could have, and it certainly isn't for the narrow-minded or the easily offended, but for those who are bold enough to go there, Naked is a respite from the regular, an escape from the everyday and offers a glimpse into the mind of a true artist.
By Melody Charles
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