Dwele with Ursula Rucker as part of the Hot & Spicy Food Festival: Island soul Edition at Harbourfront Centre's mainstage (235 Queens Quay West), Friday (July 29), 8 pm. Free. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
Rarely has there been a hiphop mix tape released without at least one remix featuring Dwele's smooth croon. It's almost as if a mix tape isn't ready for the streets unless it comes blessed with a Dwele exclusive.
That's fine by the Detroit neo-soul stylist, who sees a benefit in the sometimes shady business of mix tape culture, which thrives beyond the reach of major labels, music publishers and their legal representatives.
"Actually," says Dwele from his Detroit home, "I really enjoy hearing what other producers do with my vocals and seeing how it puts a different spin on a song.
"If it's a good job, it can make me look at my own work in a different way."
However, Dwele doesn't sound quite so thrilled to learn that the song Ez Up, a previously unreleased track he recorded with Slum Village, has just surfaced on a Slum Village mix tape, Prequel To A Classic (Barak).
"Really? I haven't seen that yet. That's interesting. I really wanted to use that song on my new album, but it didn't clear with the label.
"In a way I'm happy that it's coming out, so people can hear it, but at the same time it would've been nice to have it come out on my new project."
Not that there's a shortage of great material on Dwele's forthcoming Some Kinda (Virgin) album, tentatively set for release in October. The few tracks I've heard, including the William DeVaughn-style laid-back groover A Pimp's Dream and the uplifting title track, suggest it's going to be huge. Those hoping for a follow-up to Dwele's breakthrough Slum Village collabo, Tainted, get set for the Jay Dee-produced Keep On.
"We were all in Los Angeles at the same time, so we went into the studio and finished the track that night. Everything came together just like it did with Tainted, only Keep On is a little meatier, a little more intense. It's like Tainted on steroids.
"But I'm really pleased with the way the whole album came out. It really represents who I am. I was feelin' that old-school R&B vibe when I did A Pimp's Dream, but some songs are a little more jazzy. There's a few hiphop-oriented things and then some silly stuff where I'm just having fun."
You'll get a preview when Dwele and his seven-piece band heat up Harbourfront's Hot & Spicy Food Festival. He's looking forward to hitting the city during Caribana weekend.
"I always love coming to Toronto - the people, the food, the vibe - especially during Caribana. I had such a good time the first year I went, I came back the next three years straight. I haven't been to Caribana since 98, so I can't wait to get there."