By Mamaputle Boikanyo
Res is an independent singer and songwriter whose debut album, How I Do, is an eclectic blend of R&B and soul, pop, rock, hip hop and an overall sound infused with electronic themes.
The album received high appraisal from critics, but Res explains in her documentary that “There runs a fine line (with that) because usually when you’re critically acclaimed you don’t sell millions of records”.
Res’s album was signed under MCA Records in 2001, around the same time that artists like Mary J. Blige, U2, and The Cranberries were commercially successful.
This made it very hard for her album to reel in its own profits and that’s when Res decided to become an independent artist, growing a fan base that has become somewhat of a cult following.
The album is authentic, truthful and full of lyrical and emotional depth. The first few songs on the album, Golden Boys and They Say Vision, set these authentic tones off by slandering superficiality, the selling of false images in the music industry and the feelings of isolation artists may feel in an industry full of pretence.
Most of the album then grapples on themes about relationships and romance and anyone who has ever been in an oppressive, dependant, passionate or long distance relationship will certainly feel the layers of emotion within Res’s lyrics.
This album is contemporary poetry filled with topics of relationships that are very much allegorical of her struggles in the music industry.
What is even more captivating is Res’s voice in this album, which is coloured with a soft, subtle and unforced vibrato that that emits both feelings of joy and pain. It is this captivating voice that hovers over and holds together the electronic sounds of neo- soulful rock, acid jazz, Hip Hop and Trip Hop.
The atmosphere and sound in the album resembles sounds from artists like Fleetwood Mac, Lauryn Hill, Prince, Outkast and other groups of diverse artists that also stand as inspirations and influences for Res. The album also Features a rap by Hip Hop artist Nas.
Years after the How I do album, Res reclaimed her place in the music industry, identified herself as an independent artist and worked with the likes of Pharrel Williams, Gnarls Barkley and has released three other albums for her niche market, including one where she formed a duo with Talib Kweli called Idle Warship. To this day the How I do album remains a timeless classic amongst her fans.