A couple of weeks ago, the wifey and I had a nice Mother’s Day dinner with my in-laws and their extended family. Somehow, the conversation turned to Keith Sweat.
Y’all know me, it doesn’t take much for me to slide Keith in the conversation. I figured the old-school crew would have my back, but no: Jai’s aunt and mom starting going in on my boy, talking about how he’s nothing but a big, whiny baby.
Sure, Keith’s vocals have nasally undertones but he’s not a pitiful whiner. When I think of whining, I think of one dude – Carl Thomas.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Carl. But he was a pitiful brother. Don’t believe me? Let’s reminisce:
Carl Thomas was paying his dues on the nightclub circuit when he was discovered by Diddy in the late 90s. Since this was during the era when Diddy actually let his artists release their own albums instead of hogging all the studio time for himself, Carl’s debut, Emotional, debuted in 2000 with a pretty big buzz. That buzz was well-deserved – the album was amazing. His first single, “I Wish,” was a breath of fresh air at the time as R&B was beginning its slide into self-parody (although it was nowhere near as bad as today). Instead of focusing on bling and clubs, Carl told of a love gone wrong – and it quickly became a No. 1 R&B hit.
But the worst was yet to come. His title track, “Emotional,” was one of my favorite songs at the time, but poor Carl again sounded like he was being tortured. By the time he says “Look at me! I can’t stop crying!/Inside, my heart is slowly dying,” with his lips trembling, you just wanna hook him up with your cousin to shut him up. I can’t stand to see a man crying.
A year later, he teamed up with Faith Evans for “Can’t Believe,” a sorta-remix to “Emotional.” Again, it was a great song. Again, it was greatly depressing.
Carl returned in 2004 with Let’s Talk About It, and with the help of LL Cool J, finally got a little pep in his step with “She Is.” The song wasn’t bad at all but it didn’t make an impact. And you know what happens when artists try something new and it fails – they go back to basics. In Carl’s case, he got all pitiful again. “Make It Alright” wasn’t a sad song per se, but check out the video – he steals some guy’s girl and takes her to his mobile home (?!) IN A JUNKYARD to make out. No wonder he’s always so sad; dude lives in a junkyard. As you can guess, the album didn’t exactly break sales records.
In 2007, Carl tried again with So Much Better. Carl was back on his sad-man shtick with “2 Pieces” but his efforts went unnoticed. I guess there’s only so much pity you can have for a man.
We haven’t heard from Carl since then. He’s probably in therapy somewhere. Or out shopping for turtlenecks. I didn’t realize how much he loves those things until I watched those videos.
Should He Come Back?: Definitely. The man is loaded with talent and I have no doubt that he could easily drop another album as strong as Emotional. Just make sure someone buys him an extra large box of Kleenex when he hits the studio.