DJ Graffiti

Soul Beautiful

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Soul Beautiful is a mellow left turn from DJ Graffiti. Except for the finale, Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," the mixtape's emphasis is on blissful ballads, most of which date from the mid-'70s while touching upon the late '60s (Al Hirt's "Harlem Hendoo"), early '80s (Patrice Rushen's "Remind Me"), and 2000s (Erykah Badu's "Didn't Cha Know," Anthony Hamilton's "Comin' from Where I'm From"). From Norman Connors' Michael Henderson-fronted quiet storm gem "You Are My Starship" to Rufus & Chaka Khan's oft-covered "Sweet Thing," this is not an exercise in deep digging, but you would have to be in an exceptionally foul mood to pass up a chance to hear these songs, mixed with discreet transitions, put together with such care and understanding. Besides, there is nothing wrong with exposing this stuff to younger hip-hop heads who don't normally listen to classic soul and R&B -- quite possibly a fair chunk of Graffiti's audience. It's packed with the source material of countless rap classics.