Two records and out. Rahsaan Patterson and MCA split, the latter likely less than pleased about the lack of popular success attained by the former, even though both releases scraped the Top 50 of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Patterson dusted himself off, signed with a small U.K. independent called Dome, and went about recording a third record, which proves to be his finest yet. It's no small surprise that the lack of lofty expectations, sales-wise, hovering over his shoulder has fostered his loosest and most assured work. A few spins of After Hours makes it plain that we're finally hearing the real Rahsaan Patterson. Granted, both the self-titled debut and Love in Stereo didn't come across as processed or put on in any sense when they came out; but this promise-fulfilling release puts it in a whole new perspective. After Hours benefits from a touch so easy and natural that it practically sounds like it was made by a new artist. Throughout, you can picture Patterson surrounded by a small group, cutting most of the material live in the studio. This is the proper route for him -- being aided by a handful of associates, including neo-soul Class of '04 poster boy Van Hunt, as opposed to dozens upon dozens of session musicians, producers, and engineers. Even the up-tempo party songs -- including "So Hot," a classy dancefloor-filler that updates the best of Kleeer, Slave, and Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson -- have little varnish applied, and are a lot more suited for backyard gatherings than the clothing boutique in the mall. Thankfully, Patterson was able to mobilize a U.S. release for the record, which adds a couple extra cuts to the running order of the original U.K. version. Good on him for that, because the record is one of the most satisfying R&B releases of 2004.
After Hours Review
by Andy Kellman