W.ants W.orld W.omen

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Dwele organizes the songs of his fourth album into thematic thirds. The conceptual presentation isn’t merely cosmetic. If it was pre-planned as a means to foster a set that is distinct, not just lyrically but also sonically, in relation to Subject, Some Kinda…, and Sketches of a Man, it worked. The opening third is mostly lighthearted and gets a little steamy in places. In “I Wish,” over a surprisingly frictious beat, Dwele directly addresses his predicament as a low-key cult artist: “I wish I had a dollar for every dollar you think I have”; “I wish I made music that appeals to the masses/Instead of writing lyrics that require poetic classes.” During the lengthy interlude between “Dodgin’ Your Phone” and “Dim the Lights,” Dwele goes back to his roots by slipping into MC mode. While it’s doubtful he will pull a reverse Phonte and join a rap group, he’s convincing with his swift, droning flow and leaves the vocal hook to Raheem DeVaughn, whose socially oriented Love & War MasterPeace could have been a contemporary inspiration for the album’s outward second segment. Dwele delves into economic desperation and survival in the physical sense, but tempers his cold realism with an uplifting tribute to his hometown. The first two-thirds are strong, but the closing third gets back to what Dwele does best of all. The last 20 minutes contain a handful of his sweetest love songs, and they possess that all-too-scarce combination of cool confidence and genuine empathy -- not to mention the kinds of relaxed grooves that reveal nuances with each listen.

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