Last week's premiere of the remix to Sade's “The Moon and The Sky,” featuring Jay-Z, on the rapper's new website Life and Times, was unusual for a couple of reasons. Sade is famously reluctant to do collaborations of any kind, but an LA Times interview from just last fall specifically mentioned Hov as one of the “prominent” rappers she'd turned down.
“I'm too scared,” she says. “They'll find me out. It's like 'The Wizard of Oz.' They'll find out there's nothing there. As for collaborations, I'm collaborating with the band and do what we do. I see myself as a member of this band who does these songs that we write.”
So she's humble and hard to get. But there are other reasons hip hop's so into Sade:
5. She's classy.
Every thug needs a lady. And despite the proliferation of video vixens over the past few years, who'll wear nothing and do anything, Sade abides by the adage, “Leave something to the imagination.” You don't just wanna know what's under her skirt, but what's inside her head.
4. She's genre-defying.
The trend among rappers lately is to claim, “I don't like/listen to hip hop.” We assume that's due to a desire either not to be categorized by the media's traditional definition of hip hop or colored by what they see as the genre's current negative connotation, therefore alienating certain markets. Who better to emulate than Sade? Is she R&B? Soul? Smooth jazz? Soft rock? Pop? Trying to stuff her onto just one shelf is impossible.
3. She's all-ages appropriate.
There's a reason legendary rapper Rakim said, “That voice and her style just took out even the hardest hood at the knees.” Yeah, Sade's made some of the best “Quiet Storm” slow jams of the past few decades (we can't subdue the mood any time “Cherish the Day” comes on). But as well as they underscore whatever's going on between your sheets, they also soundtrack sitting around with your mom or shuttling around your kids.
2. She's timeless.
Speaking of your mom, she and your dad were listening to Sade before you were born (or while you were being conceived). And we're willing to bet your grandkids will still be listening in fifty years. Her voice's smoke-softened seduction dissipating into wisps, the gently rhythmic rocking of her sound, and the ever-relevant romantic and social messages of her lyrics equal a true triple threat who's respected by critics, mainstream and musicians alike. Hip hop's such a relatively new genre; this is the brand of longevity you pray is your legacy.
But the main reason?
1. She's mysterious.
As opposed to most rappers, you won't find Sade on Twitter or Facebook, and she rarely grants interviews (we're betting the fact that author and longtime culture critic Nelson George was drafted to conduct it had something to do with her LA Times piece). But discounting her delicate presence in the media, her songs and videos have always had a mystical quality. Whether in a sequined jumpsuit on a white horse or as a mermaid, she just doesn't belong with our kind.