Retrospective: The Best Maxwell Songs

By @TrueGodImmortal

Maxwell is that rare one of a kind artist. With jazzy sensibility coupled with neo soul elements and grandeur, Maxwell has released a flawless collection of albums over the last 20 years. With the return of Maxwell to music for his latest project "blackSUMMERSnight" on July 1st, as well as the 20 year anniversary of Urban Hang Suite, we here at DAR sat down to discuss and choose the best songs of his career. When we select the best Maxwell songs, we aren't going off of his hits only, or just singles, but rather the absolute best songs he's ever released, whether on a soundtrack, album, or perhaps like his current scorcher "Lake By The Ocean", just released to iTunes. What is interesting to make a note of, is that Maxwell's singles are usually the weaker songs on his album, a testament to his genius perhaps (or maybe his label goes with what will be more catchy). Today, I wanted to look at his albums, his contributions to soundtrack, and select his best tracks and why. Without further adieu, let's get into it.


-One of the more hidden gems in his career, Maxwell shines on this laid back yet salsa jazz inspired rhythm. The title, which is the Spanish word for Security (or safety), allows for Max to provide a soft hook to carry. A real gem that you might have to dig to find (or just search on YouTube).

*Sumthin' Sumthin'

-This was a bit obvious, as it was one of our first introductions to Maxwell, yet one of the final singles off his debut album. It's smooth yet jazzy soul fun, with the single version being a nice upbeat number so to speak, yet this isn't my favorite interpretation of this particular track. What do I mean by that? Well...

*Sumthin' Sumthin': Mellosmoothe(Cut)

-This is the one. This track is smooth. Seductive. A reprise of the original upbeat funky track, this was featured on the Love Jones soundtrack and film, providing a sensual alternative. Maxwell does this a few more times in his career oddly enough, with similar results, as the more slow, smooth, seductive vibe works better for him.

*Ascension(Don't Ever Wonder)

-This was the first song I had ever heard from Maxwell. And man was this a good one. It's not so much that the song is so flawless, but rather that it's so catchy. The song has a smooth hook, and the funky rhythm of the production is exactly what you need from Max.

*...Til the Cops Come Knockin'

-Although this was the first single, it took a while to catch on, though I'm not sure why, as this is one of his best singles ever,  probably top 3. The slow, sensual feel of the track combined with the bass drums here make for a bedroom anthem, which is something Maxwell tends to excel at. The lyrics can be a bit funny when you break them down, but they all tend to flow very well. This is an all time classic.

*Whenever Wherever Whatever 

-One of his most highly respected ballads and rightfully so. The lyrics of "I'll give you the breath that I breathe" is sure to make the ladies go crazy, but what truly carries the song is the symphony arrangement production backed by the smooth vocals and harmony from Max.

*Lonely's the Only Company (I & II)

-Whenever people ask me about my favorite Maxwell songs, this is always in the top 5. As his falsetto begins to tell a story of a man without a woman to call his own and love, Max speaks directly to a breakup or a rift in love, focusing his attention on the loss of the love and the feelings afterward that seem to permeate his mind and heart. It's a beautiful gem indeed.


-The seductive keys and guitar on one of the slower songs on his debut makes this a true classic, as Max begins to weave through beautiful production and talks directly to his lady. An underrated gem on his timeless debut.

*Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)

-This is the one. This is it. Hands down, the best song on this album. It starts off seductive with some captivating lyrics:

"It's been so long since I have got you lady... since I have had those brown legs wrapped around me... the smell of she just drives me crazy... imagine what the sight of her can do.... wooo"

And leads into a buttery smooth hook before driving home the realization that his love was something he never expected:

"I never thought of myself as that kinda guy... the kinda man that.. would ever wanna settle down... statistics say it's crazy.... passion won't survive"

And the song ends with Max expressing his plans for devotion and love to his woman. The perfect song that goes through all elements and emotions.

*Softly Softly

-Another hidden gem so to speak, Max gets in his lane of smooth rhythm on this slow jam. How can you go wrong here? Sweetback assists on this one.

*Everwanting: To Want You To Want 

-While Embrya was panned by some critics, I think this album tons of gems and this is one of them certainly. The smooth chorus and chant of "if you want to...." carries it.

*Luxury: Cococure

-I always think this song is about Hollywood and the increasing usage of drugs at the time. While I could be wrong and probably am, the song is one of the strongest on Embrya, coupled with layered smooth vocals and great production.

*Drowndeep: Hula

-Once again creating one of his signature slow bedroom anthems, Max coasts on an atmospheric production while asking his lady to let him drown deep in her love.

*Matrimony: Maybe You

-In what could be considered a sequel of sorts to "Suitelady", Max talks about marriage in sense, thinking that his woman could be the one for him and would help me grow, improve, and get better as a man. Beautiful song with a solid message of strong love.

*Submerge: Til We Become The Sun 

-The abstract and atmospheric vibe of Embrya was in full force here, as the trippy production is backed by some solid lyricism from Max, and the chorus is so infectious yet intricate. It's one of the most slept on songs in his catalog.


-I struggled with putting this song on the list because it's not a song that was written by Max himself, but rather R. Kelly. This isn't a bad song, but I think R. Kelly writing it instead of Max doesn't allow for the abstract lyrics we are used to. Still a really good song and one of his biggest hits unsurprisingly.

*Get To Know Ya 

-This is signature Maxwell and a return to the soulful funk sound he is infamous for. The chorus is infectious as well, as Max once again creates a flawless jam.


-I used to not really like this song. I respected the message and the sound, but as I got older, my appreciation for this song grew. A1 production and the lyrics once again do what Max does best and tells a story.

*As My Girl

-This was a nice smooth number off of the Best Man soundtrack, and had a nice upbeat rhythm to it. I enjoyed the track here, but once again, Maxwell would give us a reprise of this that surpassed the already dope original. Speaking of that....

*W/As My Girl 

-One of my personal all time favorite songs from Maxwell. Hands down. From the opening "Turn the lights down low...", to the end of this 3 minute track, Maxwell turns his upbeat dedication to his woman into one of the better smooth ballads in his entire career.

*This Woman's Work 

-A cover of the Kate Bush original, Maxwell owns this song now. It's his. Period. No question. The vocal runs from Maxwell along with what really seems like pain behind it is superb and his voice fits for this. Likely one of his most popular songs, and some are unaware or forget it's a cover, a testament to how he owns this song.

*Bad Habits

-My all time favorite Maxwell song and flawlessly executed. From the opening note to the fan vocal run, Maxwell takes us on a journey with this track. The hook is what makes this so timeless, as the lyrics of "this is the highest cost..." drives home the story being told here. The production is amazing as the horn breakdown near the end is superb and one of my favorite parts of this song.

*Pretty Wings

-People think this is a beautiful song. It is honestly, but it's not a dedication of love, but rather a better way to handle the loss of love and a breakup. Maxwell gracefully ends things in a long term relationship and though he still sees the beauty in his lady, he knows that this is the end. A great song and a beautiful breakup song, most people just get caught in the chorus and think it's some sort of wedding song, another example of "do you listen to music or skim through it".

*Stop The World

-I make references to bedroom anthems often with Maxwell and it's always fitting. The slow and seductive rhythms are his lane, and this song completely keeps that momentum going. He wants to stop the world with his woman by making love, and he paints a picture with this song.

*Fistful of Tears

-Showing emotional vulnerability is nothing new for Maxwell and this song exhibits that to perfection, as the slow and almost painfully triumphant rhythm of the production allows him to lay his feelings down as only he can.

*Lake By The Ocean 

-After a 7 year hiatus, Maxwell returned with this scorcher. This does sound like a leftover from the first part of the trilogy, but this is still an amazing reintroduction of Max to the public and perhaps a generation that's not completely familiar with his greatness. Soulful production? Check. Abstract lyrics? Check. Amazing music? Check. Welcome back.


-His newest album Is almost here and he keeps dropping leaks off of it. This is a bedroom anthem, as Max takes his abstract lyricism on a journey over smooth laid back production.

I'm sure more songs could be added to this list, and I'm sure after the release of the new album that there will be more gems to include, for now these tracks should help anyone needing a fix of great Maxwell music.



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