Three For Love Vol. 1

three for love

Here’s a little secret about most rappers: sometimes we just want to sing really good (or bad) love songs. Here’s the problem: minus Phonte of Little Brother, Mos Def, k-os, and a few others, we can’t frickin sing. At all. Most rappers would never admit this. Some are openly frustrated 70s R&B crooners (I see you Snoop and Ghostface).

With that in mind, I’m starting a segment called Three For Love. I’m going to spotlight 3 love songs I secretly wish I wrote.

The first track I picked sounds like someone in my position–all desire but not enough talent to be a certified crooner (whattup Dom P!). His name is Pharrell Williams, and he’s been surprisingly successful singing memorable hooks with not much…oh what’s the word…skill? “Frontin'” is probably the best example of this. Think about how BIG this song was when it came out 5 years ago, then think about if you’d ever want to hear Pharrelll’s falsetto ever again. If you watch the video again it looks like the genesis of hipster rap. And I’m still madly in love with the smokin’ hot redhead–any leads on her, fellas?

weird dress

I’m posting the 9th Wonder remix of “Frontin.” It’s based on a sample of “My Cherie Amor,” still my favorite Stevie Wonder song of all time. Like most 9th Wonder beats, it’s does the job of keeping your head bouncing while not getting in the way of the artist.

jamie lidell

Up next is a song from the new Jamie Lidell album, “Jim.” The track “All I Wanna Do” reminds me of Sam Cooke and slowdancing in the summertime. I was huge fan of Jamie’s last album “Multiply” even as James Blunt completely ripped off the same album cover (assclown). This time around Jamie ditches the electronic glitches and quirky effects for a straight forward ol’ soul album. “All I Wanna Do” has the hiss of analog tape, and that’s fine by me. Fellas, if you can’t close the deal with this song playing, may God have mercy on your soul.

Finally, we have the greatest hip hop love song of all time. Sorry Tribe, Common, LL, and Apache but Rakim’s “Mahogany” is the perfect comination of slick, sexy, visual, mature, and Memphis soul. I discovered this song on “The 18th Letter” double album I bought at the Franklin Mills mall in the winter ’97 as I was trying to write my own love song with a sweetheart from the great Northeast. That never panned out, but acquiring this song was worth the trip.


The one thing that always bugged me about this song is the line “You know how far a kiss could go, fuck around and miss the show.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but Rakim NEVER said the F word on any song besides this one. He’s the cleanest lyricist of all time, and yet he decides to say Fuuuuuuudge on a song about an all-world cover girl he met cooling outside the Palladium. Weird.

Buy Pharrell’s musichere

Buy Jamie Lidell’s music here

Buy Rakim’s music here



  1. a non-music-related comment: pharrell’s headgear in the above photo is outrageous. word to lightspeed champion.

    a musical comment: i’ve yet to listen to jamie liddell, so i can’t weigh in on him. because i haven’t heard the music yet, i’m still baffled as to why this dude has near-universal appeal. perhaps i should take a listen, no?

  2. Jamie Lidell is the opposite of Justin Timberlake in that when he does black music, it comes across very naturally and genuine. I hate the term “blue eyed soul” because it’s basically racist (would you be considered “urban” folk then?), but Lidell is the most soulful white dude outside of Hall & Oates. Fuck Jon B.

  3. i wholeheartedly agree: “blue eyed soul” sort of creates a barrier that suggests that white people aren’t “supposed” to do soul music. do you know the kind of journalistic rampage i’d do on somebody if they referred to my music as “dark-skinned folk”? it’s along the same lines of calling someone a “blipster.”

    i agree with you on the timberlake statement; his career just seems like a elvis-stylized sort of thing. it’s almost like he figured out that if usher were white, he’d sell a lot more records, and ran with the idea.

  4. Did you intentionally look for the most awkward/ridiculous picture of Pharrel you could find? If so, I tip my hat to you… It looks like Beck and Ray J’s stylists went half-sies on this one… little did people know P could walk on the ceiling with those kicks.

  5. ZR,
    Is that Rakim track Mahoghany? You ain’t lying either about that being the greatest love song evar.

  6. Dallas:

    “Mahogany” technically credited to Eric B and Rakim, but you know the deal—Ra made the beat and wrote some poetry to that bad boy. And the only hip hop song I can think of that truly measures up to it is “Brown Skin Lady” by Black Star, but the Al Green samples on “Mahogany” always win.

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