Not many artists can return from a decade-long recording hiatus and still be relevant, but Sade isn’t just any artist. Pushing 502,000 copies in its first week, her album, Soldier of Love, has now spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart.
Ever since her 1984 debut, Diamond Life, the Nigerian-born U.K.-bred singer has had a mysterious draw that’s often hard to pinpoint.
Like many people, producer Tricky Stewart (Beyoncé’s “Singles Ladies,” Rihanna’s “Umbrella”) learned about Sade through family via songs like “Smooth Operator,” “Your Love Is King” and “Sweetest Taboo.”
“My brother was a huge Sade fan. When she first broke on the scene, I didn’t really understand it, but everybody loved it so much that I got into it,” Stewart told VIBE. “As I got older, I started to understand how special it was what she’s been doing. It always sounds different than everything else. It has that mood, that vibe. You hear her music and you know that’s her song, she wrote it and that no one else in the world can sing it and pull it off.”
Common meanwhile talked about the soulful void her music fills.
“Sade is offering her soul to the world. She’s very unique and I think she created a vibe when you first heard her,” said Common. “It just has the nostalgia, and when you hear that voice you just feel that good feeling. I had my homies calling me like, ‘That new Sade joint is hot, it’s banging!’ And these are regular guys working everyday jobs in Chicago.”
Besides Sade’s music being timeless, Stewart also thinks the singer’s patiently waiting fan base has kept the enigma alive. “She created a demand for herself. I think Dr. Dre is gonna do the same thing with [Detox],” said Stewart. “She holds her art form very close, so she hasn’t been out here abusing it, pimping it in any way.”
So what about a Tricky Stewart x The-Dream x Sade collabo?
“Her tone is so special. From a production standpoint, you’re always gonna be a bit more stripped down or more sparse because you want the voice to show off,” said Stewart. “I think the biggest thing is the way that she sounds is about how it makes you feel. She has a soundtrack to your life.” —Clover Hope