Dwele, first heard on the cool, relaxed chorus of Slum Village's "Tainted," isn't a leather-lunged shouter or, the likely guess, a silky-smooth crooner. Blessed with a fine, sensitive voice, he's a Marvin Gaye disciple, and like his influence, he has his own ideas about production and performance. That stubbornness makes him a difficult artist to pigeon-hole but an easy one to enjoy, especially for listeners tired of hearing constant repetition in R&B. Mostly self-produced and recorded at his home in Detroit, Subject favors the gauzy beats-and-bliss production style of Slum Village auteur Jay Dee. Though it's a familiar format, it's one that works well as a bed for his vocal style, which uses odd cadences, extended phrasing, multiple layers of vocals, and often his own whispered responses to his main lines. Halfway between R. Kelly and Madlib, Dwele writes toward R&B stereotypes but really makes the songs his own. On the title track, unsurprisingly a self-production, he accomplishes a rare feat, pulling off an inspirational song that truly sounds inspired. Dwele doesn't sound quite as interesting when he's not producing himself; a pair of outside productions, the single "Find a Way" and "Money Don't Mean a Thing," are intelligent, sensitive jams, but they make it clear that Dwele's talents don't tend to the anthemic. Like Gaye before him, he sounds more content and more inspired when the reins are in his hands.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush