90s R&B/soul fiends were yesterday night spoilt with an all-you-can-eat buffet by some of their cherished idols. The occasion was the 2016 Soul Train Music Awards and the venue was the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Piloting proceedings for a second year running was neo-soul queen Erykah Badu and she kept the audience enthralled with snide puns. She was also one of the performers on the night, joining with D.R.A.M. to sing his hit ‘Wi-Fi’, and later performing a duet with India.Arie.
But starting off the performances was one of the most influential groups from the 90s, Dru Hill. Or at least most of the original group. ‘Tell Me’, their opening song, featured Sisqo, Nokio and Tayo, a later addition who replaced Woody. The best the audience would get was three-fourths of the Baltimore foursome. Jazz appeared to help belt out ‘Beauty’.
Then there was the ‘Soul Cypher’, a twist on the rap cypher that is synonymous with the BET Hip Hop Awards. Badu was again involved, this time in the role of DJ, and she threw on the instrumental for Bryson Tiller’s hit ‘Don’t’ to get things rolling. Ne-Yo, then Angie Stone, then Tyrese, then the legendary Gladys Knight hopped on the beat, stringing together snippets of their best known songs.
Another highlight of this year’s Soul Train Awards was the veneration of one of the pillars of modern soul, Teddy Riley. He was presented with the Soul Train Legend Award. Thinking about it, the iconic producer/vocalist/rapper is way overdue for such recognition. He is the man who gave the world new jack swing and put the flavor in Big Daddy Kane’s monster hit ‘I Get The Job Done’. Teddy’s fingerprints are on some of Michael Jackson’s biggest singles and without him there would be no Blackstreet, or Neptunes. Members of the first group Teddy formed, Guy, came out to honor him, as did Doug E. Fresh and Bobby Brown, among other artists. He himself opened the floor for them with vocoder renditions of ‘I Want Her’ and ‘Just Got Paid’, hit songs he produced for other artists.
Brandy was the other recipient of an honorary award as she was crowned the Lady of Soul. She reminded fans and viewers what she had done over the decades to earn the accolade with a powerful medley of past hits including ‘Almost Doesn’t Count’. Wrapped in a white mink, Harlem rap star Ma$e joined her for a live interpretation of ‘Top Of The World’.
Miami Based, Internationally Known