Jan. 18 2012 03:23 PM

Gospel singer-turned-pop producer channels all the greats on his new full-length

bsladecover

Music Reviews
B.Slade
Stealth (Suxxess)

Anthony Charles Williams II was once a gospel star. Performing under the name Tonéx, he's been nominated for two Grammys and won six Stellar Awards, the industry's most prestigious honor. His stirring 2004 hit “Make Me Over” is a gospel favorite.

But the gospel industry turned its back on Tonéx when he publicly came out as gay in 2009. Lately, the eclectic singer / songwriter / producer has been staking out a niche in the world of secular pop music, incorporating Michael Jackson's polished style and Kanye West's bloated egotism into a new persona, B.Slade.

While Tonéx exuded a cool-headed confidence on his 2000 breakthrough debut, Pronounced Toe-Nay, B.Slade is over-the-top on Stealth, the follow-up to last year's Diesel. In fact, he goes so far as to herald his reinvention in messianic terms: “I hear the thunder rumbling / I smell a storm coming / This ain't a comeback / Homie, it's the second coming,” he boasts in “Prolegomenon…,” Stealth's bombastic second track.

With his undeniable talents, B.Slade has earned the right to be a little pompous. He shows off his supple voice on the swooning, sorrowful slow jam “Dumb Bunny” and channels both Jackson and Prince with blistering dance-floor bangers like “Not Effective” and “Ordinary.” Sassy and defiant, he reserves plenty of bile for his detractors. “Why must you fantasize about my little private life?” he sings over the title track's hard-driving electro-funk.

Perhaps Stealth's most telling track, however, is “Prolegomenon…” By casually tossing around a fancy euphemism for the word “preface,” B.Slade makes it clear that he has ambitious plans in store: “This ain't my hottest joint / it's just my prolegomenon.” But you have to wonder: What is B.Slade trying to prove? After all, even without all that unnecessary bluster, he's clearly still quite brilliant.


Email peterh@sdcitybeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.

Calendar

  • Known as the ‘Official Scripps National Spelling Bee Watch Party for Adults,’ guests can cheer on kids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN before competing in a spelling bee themselves
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • A mass action against the closing of the UCSD University Art Gallery. Participants will meet at the Silent Tree (located near the Library Walk) and march together toward the Gallery
  • Local science illustrator Melissa Walter presents new abstract works that are literal interpretations of astronomical theories
  • So Say We All invites listeners to hear stories about real life, the internet, the ways those places intersect or the way they don't intersect at all, told by seven locals
  • The author, comic book writer, and son of Stephen King will sign his new apocalyptic thriller, The Fireman
See all events on Thursday, May 26