Home > Michael Ashton > Review: “Lionhearted – Young Hustla Vol III” by Teedra Moses

Review: “Lionhearted – Young Hustla Vol III” by Teedra Moses

The best thing about a secret is that few people know about it. You never know what is bubbling underneath the surface, so when you finally stumble upon it, its like a fresh breath of air. And that’s exactly what singer-songwriter Teedra Moses is – a veritable R&B secret.

Complex Simplicity, quietly released in 2004, is a near-classic record. Hip-hop meets neo-soul. Everything from the glossy and shimmering beats supplied by Poli Paul (including a stunning duet with Raphael Saadiq) to the simple melodies and straight-forward lyrics about love, loss and heartache – every aspect of that record is luminescent and pure. There’s a magic in her tracks that is nothing short of authentic or mesmerizing.

Her follow up, The Young Lioness, while praised by those who have heard the tracks, has been marginalized by numerous setbacks and a subsequent label folding. Understanding her commitment to her fans, Moses started from scratch. She hit the road, continuing to write for other artists (Trina, Macy Gray, Mary J. Blige, among others) and releasing mixtapes of unreleased tracks and collaborations.

Released to fans first after a lively show in Pasadena, California, the third installment in the Young Hustla mixtape series is Lionhearted, a 13-track pre-cursor to serve as a taste of what’s to come next for her eager fans. Teedra works largely with up-and-coming producers (partner Poli Paul receives only one inclusion on the album). Stylistically and sonically, her collaborators manage to place Teedra between the mid-80s and 90s while keeping a current modern footing in its lyrics and themes. Producer 9th Wonder brings a bright and summery groove to “Love Devine”, a close cousin to Erykah Badu’s “Honey”. The sparse “I Told You” and brisk “Say Lil’ Mama” (with its hollow Paisley Park drum programming) exude a brimming personality and confidence to match the charming lyrics. But it’s the face-paced, Flashdance-inspired “So Kool” where Teedra breaks it down for a former lover that crossed the line for the last time.

The mixtape is an excellent and welcome addition to those eager waiting for more pieces of Teedra Moses. It’s thoroughly consistent and should satisfy listeners until her next release.

(written in Fall 2008 for Stoic Audacity Magazine)

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