The Revisit: Faith Evans’ “Faith”

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“I am still amazed when people refer to my debut album as a classic. Mainly because I certainly had no expectations, as I didn’t know what to expect! I was a church girl who grew up listening to gospel, soul, R&B, jazz, disco, house, classical, pop, rock, funk, folk, and any other music my mom had in her collection. I had always read credits like crazy & I guess my curious creative mind wanted to see my name listed in some of those credits as well as be a famous singer. I had no idea on what end of the spectrum I’d end up, but I always tried to be involved in anything hat involved music. My debut album is purely from my heart & soul. I used to listen to the track & just go in the booth & sing whatever it made me feel off the top of my head arranging the parts as I went along. Being in love with BIG and having a marriage with the hottest new hip hop artist of that time certainly brought out the emotional up & downs that connected so many people with that album.”Faith Evans

It was the fall of 1994 and I couldn’t pull myself away from Mary J. Blige’s iconic My Life album like every other black person in the world. I was particularly drawn, however, to the background vocals on the song “I Never Wanna Live Without You.” I obsessed over the inflections and melodies of this voice. The voice repeating “baby won’t you stay with me a little while” would ring in my head hours after I’ve listened to it. I owned the cassette tape, but wasn’t a credit reader then, so the voice went anonymous. It wasn’t until June of ’95 that I heard it again. “You Used To Love Me” was our first introduction to Faith Evans as a solo artist. The track screamed Puffy, but left ample space for that voice I fell in love with the year before.

This year alone has been one of the best we’ve had for music in a long time. It’s also the 20th anniversary of Faith propelling to become one of the most iconic R&B albums in history. Evans was fresh off of writing and doing backing vocals for Usher’s first album and Mary’s My Life when she began recording her debut. Working mostly with producers Chucky Thompson and Puff Daddy, while also being married to Biggie Smalls sealed her fate as “The First Lady of Bad Boy Records”. Everyone knows Faith for her amazing voice, but many don’t know that she has written almost her entire discography, making her one of the most prolific writers of our time.

Faith is queen of the interlude. She honestly has interludes better than some artists’ full songs. “Faith” was the first of three on this album and was the perfect way to open the album. Besides creating the remix, Bad Boy also introduced that serious ’90s headknock to R&B. Marrying traditional R&B to the streets, “No Other Love” bumped hard in the jeeps. The backgrounds on the pre-chorus and bridge are just too good! Sampling “Remind Me” by Patrice Rushen, “Fallin in Love” is a bouncy cut that requires a dainty Mary J bop. Speaking of Mary, her and her sister have writing credits on this song! “Fallin in Love” is also another example of Faith’s skill in stacking vocals.

“Aint Nobody” was the third single debuted and one of my favorites on the LP. The hard beat was primarily only heard in hip-hop, so it was a no brainer that a remix with Queen Latifah was made. The change of vocal arrangement on the remix really upped the ante on an already incredible song. The “You Are My Joy (Interlude)” is forever legend. Besides Faith giving life with her vocals, it’s dedicated to her daughter Chyna, who famously made a cameo in D’Angelo‘s “Lady” remix.

R&B loves a remake, but it’s nothing like artists making the song all their own. Rose Royce are icons, but the raw emotion Faith laid out in this cover makes her version the frontrunner. I used to be in my room cry-singing as if I had any clue as to what this song was even about at the time.

“Come Over” was another number I was too young to be singing with such passion, but Faith really made you feel that thing. I still watch the infamous live performance of this song with Faith in the red satin suit outsinging legends. She really flexed her vocals with this one, sealing it as one of her best. “Soon As I Get Home” was the album’s second single, but it really kicked the door down and made it clear that Faith was here to take the R&B crown. It is and will forever be a staple in R&B. The intro is only second in legendary to R. Kelly’s “Bump’n’Grind”.

“All This Love” is a deeeep album cut, but it’s one of my top 10 Faith Evans songs. The second verse is nothing short of spiritual.

You give your love, so freely
And you give it so abundantly
I just want to be able to give it back to you
Come on baby
Let me tell you
Tell you all the things I feel
Cause if it wasn’t for your love
I don’t think I would know what’s real 

In the ’90s it was impossible to have a R&B album without a gospel track or interlude. Plus, Black people LOVE Jesus and ain’t shamed to tell the world. I’ve always tried to figure out the male vocalist on “Thank You Lord (Interlude)”. After years of guessing, I vote Q Parker from 112. Anyone have the answer!? Faith, at the core, has a very jazzy voice, so “Give It To Me” is a great showcase of that, with a touch of knock of course. The piano on the bridge prepped us for the heat Faith dropped when she linked with Robert Glasper on “You Own Me” in 2013.

“You Don’t Understand” is peak ‘look out of the window as it rains’ music. I’m a total nerd for bridges, and the vocals in this one are the best on the album. It was so good, Faith had to do it twice. “Don’t Be Afraid” is another one of my favorites in Faith’s abundant catalogue. The track itself is pretty straightforward allowing the lyrics to really have you in your emo bag.

Everytime I think about the time we spend together baby 
Holding hands and making love 
Long walks and morning talks 
I can’t believe you only thought that we were friends
Boy you can’t pretend 

“Reasons” is my favorite Faith Evans song ever! It has the classic ’90s R&B drip that every slow jam needs and Faith is singing her heart out. It could also be flipped to be sung at church on Young Adult Sunday – because you know how we do. It’s such an amazing song and perfect way to end an album.

Faith Evans’ debut was the launching pad for a career that many only dream of. After a strong 20 years in the game, Faith proved that she’s still got it when she dropped one of the best albums from 2014, Incomparable. Copping both her first and last albums are the perfect way to celebrate #Faith20. Run to iTunes ya’ll!

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