is more than the sad girl that sings Emotional Rollercoaster or Gotta Go, Gotta Leave. My sole mission period is to let people see she is better than one single. This is the recurring point that polka dot-wearing hip-hop legend-turned producer and composer Kwamé (Holland) makes anytime hes in his zone talking about the R&B vocalists fifth studio LP, VIVID.
Greens current collection of music is indeed a musical shift that gives the petite Philadelphia-born vocalist and songwriter the chance to finally blossom from strictly performing tear-jerking ballads. VIVID asserts Greens true personality, an infectious, extroverted sound full of danceable, uptempo R&B/disco-flavored material.
On Work, Green and Kwamé pump out a groove driven by a heavy bass riff. Get Right Back to My Baby is a refreshing, feel good jam lifted from the timeless Maze featuring Frankie Beverlys cut Before I Let Go. The fun 1,2,3 is a ditty built around handclaps inspired by harmonic 60s girl groups and Holland-Dozier-Hollands signature production. All I Want is You is VIVIDs lone seductive ballad featuring Raheem DeVaughn, while Im Not Broken is a thumping inspirational song.
Released under Kwamés own label, Make Noise/Caroline, Green originally wanted to title the album V, but decided to choose a word that starts with the letter and reflects the mood of the entire listening experience. The music is full of energy, full of life, says Green following a preview of VIVID at Atlantas famed Patchwerk Studios. I continued to make that melancholy music because thats what people expected of me.
Green is extremely technical while Kwamé tends to work solely off the vibe in the room. They both admit to arguing frequently during the making of VIVID, even debating over who actually came up with the album title. On the other hand, Green and Kwamé actually behave more like siblings than musical collaborators.
Working on VIVID closely with Kwamé was comforting for Green. She appreciates his evolution from making his own records like Sweet Thing, The Rhythm and Ownleeeue to earning production credits for a host of talent including Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, Will Smith, Keyshia Cole, Dru Hill, Fantasia, Method Man, Missy Elliott, Jesse McCartney, Christina Aguilera, Talib Kweli and Chanté Moore.
He encouraged me to make music that was a reflection of my personality, says Green seated comfortably on a bar stool following an in-studio performance. Hes still very much an artist. He doesnt make sappy music in any capacity, and he had a vision of what he wanted it to be. Seated next to Green, a modest Kwamé points out how he had to improve his sonic game and even developed better cleanliness habits in the studio.
Green and Kwamé also agree that VIVID is a personal project they created together. We didnt make this album because somebody made us make the album, says Kwamé, or because some A&R called us up and paid me. We made this album with no deal or no idea how its gonna come out.
VIVID was complete before Green and Kwamé even thought about taking meetings or figuring out a marketing strategy. Once signed to Columbia Records, Green wanted to focus specifically on making quality music. You dont want labels to feel like you need them, she says, so we wanted to come with strong product.
Sharing that he never does interviews with the artists he produces, Kwamé who is also a member of the old school hip-hop supergroup, The Alumni, featuring Chubb Rock, Special Ed, Monie Love and Greg Nice appreciates how Green, referring to her as a flawless diamond, publicly shows her gratitude to him whenever she performs.
She makes it all inclusive, says Kwamé. I learned how to be a better producer. Whoever I work with, I try to learn something. She improved me.
VIVID is an album of songs that Green wants her fans and listeners to live with. It has so much energy, she says. It can take you throughout your day. Kwamé, on the other hand, didnt appreciate how previous labels handled Greens output, noting that each label only put out one single from each of her four previous efforts.
Going forward, Kwamé hopes that Green doesnt have prolonged gaps between albums anymore. VIVID, he says, is an introduction to Greens incredible range. People are gonna see with [Vivian] youre gonna get a complete album, complete body of work and understand a complete artist. Period, he asserts.
Photo Credits: Derek Blanks