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Why You Need More Willie Hutch in Your Life

Piggybacking (just a bit) on True's post on Al Green's most-recent CD and the fact that it flew under many radars (except DAR's, of course), I began to think: what other artists have been underrated, either as a whole or one of their projects. And as I thought about this question, a song came on my Spotify stream.


It was as if the music gods said to me, "Speed, highlight this innovative artist and try to give him the shine that he deserves outside of just being utilized for a sample here and there." I'm talking about none other than Willie Hutch, a musical genius who doesn't get as much praise as I feel he deserves. This is a man who wrote "I'll Be There," one of the Jackson 5's biggest (read: most-played in 2015) hits and people still mostly will remember him for having a track sampled for, as an example, "Stay Fly." But why?


Well, it's not like his discography is lacking. Hutch was an accomplished songwriter, he had a hand in the soundtracks of The Mack, The Last Dragon, and the above Foxy Brown, and many of his singles charted. However, perhaps due to the fact that Mr. Hutch came to prominence in an era where we did have the Marvins, the Als, the other "powerhouse" acts, some who claim to know about this era, they forget Willie. And, even during the era in which he was prominent, he still seemingly obtained more fame through providing lyrics for others than his own music.

I first got introduced to Willie's music, ironically, through "Tell Me Why Has Our Love Turned Cold," the basis for the aforementioned "Stay Fly." I was going through a puppy love going sour and this song came on Baltimore's oldies station, Magic 95.9. My ears perked up instantly, something that rarely happens, even with "classic" tracks--at least on the first listen. I was hooked. I got home, on my slow-ass internet, and started finding more Willie Hutch tracks. 

I started flipping them into beats (I mean, I am a producer after all). I started blasting them from my room to the point my mom thought I was having some sort of throwback identity crisis. I fell in love with his arrangements, instrumentation, lyrics, and use of the background vocalists to emphasize a point. His voice also had a distinct feeling to it, like you knew you weren't going to get this type of feeling from anyone else. 

You always hear about a Luther or a Marvin leaving their soul on the track. For me, Willie always took that phrase to another level. He seemed to melt away with every sad song as it faded out, leaving himself on the "field" while also seeping into nothingness (kind of like the relationship et al he lamented about). On happier songs, you would come away from the track feeling a bit more elated about your situation. On a song such as "Brother's Gonna Work It Out" (hi True), you get that sense of unity and need to band together in a solidarity unseen since the Civil Rights Movement. 

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