Unless this is your first time at Soul In Stereo, you know there’s only one R&B OG who can be referred to by just one name around here.
I’m not talking about Usher. Or Joe. Or even Lutha.
I’m talking Keith. Keith Sweat. Or, as I say when one of his songs randomly plays on the radio: KEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEF!
Yeah, Keith can turn the hardest of brothers into shrill middle-aged women (no offense to the shrill, middle-aged women reading this blog. You are appreciated).
But one Keith who never get love is Keith Washington. Everyone remembers “Kissing You,” but what has he done since then? Lemme remind you…
Detroit native Keith Washington joined the R&B scene in 1991 with his debut, Make Time For Love. It was the perfect era to showcase his rich vocals. It was also the era of R&B brothers in suits wandering around in large open spaces. Check the videos for “Are You Still In Love With Me” and “Kissing You” – that brother was in serious need of a GPS. Of course, “Kissing You” became Keith’s calling card and it’s easy to see (or hear) why. His vocals were instantly compared to those of Luther Vandross – that’s not bad company to be in.
“Kissing You” rapidly reached No. 1 on the R&B charts, received a Grammy nomination and a won a Soul Train Music Award.
Follow-up singles “When You Love Somebody” and the title track, pushed the album to gold status. And by the looks of the video for “Make Time For Love,” Keith finally finished wandering and made it home for dinner. About time.
Shortly afterward, Keith scored another hit – this time in the UK with “If You Were With Me Now,” featuring Kylie Minogue. Now, my mind is slipping a bit in my old age, but I clearly remember hearing this song stateside. At some point it made its way back to the U.S., which is fine with me.
Wasting no time, Keith dropped his sophomore effort, You Make It Easy, in 1993. “Believe That” is a classic Keith ballad, but I’m not a fan of the video. Are we really supposed to buy Keith as a member of a motorcycle gang? At least if he gets lost again he’ll have company. Thankfully he put the blazer back on for “Stay In My Corner.” And he even dragged out the SILK PAJAMAS for “Trippin.” True playa for real. “Believe That” and “Stay In My Corner” did reasonably well on the R&B charts but nothing matched the success of Keith’s earlier work.
Keith took a hiatus and returned in 1998 with KW, suspiciously looking like Denzel Washington from Training Day.
And since it was 1998, Keith’s video for “Bring It On” had to be some sort of weird Scarface ripoff. I do NOT understand hip-hop’s fascination with that boring movie. Anyway, the video might be suspect but I can’t hate on the track itself – it’s probably my favorite song from Keith. KW also featured “I Love You,” a duet with Chante Moore that received plenty of airplay during my local radio station’s “Quiet Storm” hour. Half the kids running around today wearing skinny jeans and listening to Lil Wayne were conceived to that song. So we have Keith to blame.
Keith has pretty much vanished from the spotlight since the late ’90s. These days he hosts a nighttime radio show back in Detroit called “Kisses After Dark.” Wait wait wait: That’s awfully similar to another Keith’s side gig… And on his Twitter account, Keith claims to have a new single, “Think About You,” but I couldn’t find it online. No word on an album.
Should He Come Back: Keith Washington was a master of R&B ballads, and those are a tough sell these days. But unless his vocal chords have deteriorated into bread crumbs, Keith needs to come back RIGHT NOW. R&B is in dire need of veterans. There’s certain room for two Keiths.