Napoleon Demps (New CD Review!)

Daddy B. Nice's #125 ranked Southern Soul Artist

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Napoleon Demps (New CD Review!)

June 3, 2018:

Napoleon responds to the review.

Read Napoleon's response in Daddy B. Nice's Mailbag. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

May 20, 2018:

See Daddy B. Nice's new Review of Napoleon's VARIOUS ARTISTS VOL. 2: SOUTHERN SOUL WITH A TWIST - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

April 1, 2018: NEW ALBUM ALERT!:

Buy Napoleon Demps' new sampler, VARIOUS ARTISTS VOL. 2: SOUTHERN SOUL WITH A TWIST, at Amazon.

Buy Napoleon Demps' new sampler, VARIOUS ARTISTS VOL. 2: SOUTHERN SOUL WITH A TWIST, at iTunes.


Dem Legz
by Napoleon Demps

O Baby
by Stone Paxton

Come Back Home
by Napoleon Demps

Baby Makin Love
by Floyd Fuller

Going Out
by Ms. Nikell x

You're My All
by Stone Paxton

Get Together One More Time
by Napoleon Demp

Real Love
by Napoleon Demps

Saddle Up
by Rashad the Blues Kid

Swing That Thang
by Napoleon Demps

What Don't Kill Me
by Napoleon Demps

Daddy B. Nice notes: This sounds like a "northern" record. Demps--from Flint, Michigan--apparently isn't immersing himself in southern soul radio, and the labeling is a stretch. Maybe that's why it's called "southern soul with a twist"?

But if you read 2016's solid 3-star review below, my initial impression of Southern Soul Vol. 1--after its presumptuousness in coming from such a young and marginal performer--was also dismissive. But I changed my mind over time. On this new set, Rashad's "Saddle Up" is indisputable southern soul.

Listen to Rashad The Blues Kid & Napoleon singing "Saddle Up" on YouTube. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

October 12, 2016: Re-Posted From Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews

Southern Soul, Vol. 1
Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

The first time I listened to Napoleon Demps Presents...Southern Soul Vol. 1, the record sounded crude and amateurish, and with no retail available I threw the sampler in the "slush" pile. Now--a couple of months later and the record available for sale--I slipped the album into the CD player once again and suddenly it sounds much better. I'm listening to it with interest and playing it over and over, with the difference between my two reactions still unaccountable.

Napoleon Demps is a native of Flint, Michigan, notorious for the municipal water-poisoning of its overwhelmingly African-American constituency and a northern outpost of southern soul second only to Chicago (if not first), home to such chitlin' circuit luminaries as Simeo Overall and James Smith and the northern base of Anna Coday's Coday Records. Demps first made a name for himself in 2006 under the name "Napoleon" with the extremely catchy track, "Who You Been Lovin'?", still his signature song, a duet with Mr. David which once linked to My Space but unfortunately is still not posted on YouTube in spite of being re-promoted by the artist in 2011.

The hooky "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah..." from "Who You Been Lovin'?" graces "Party," the fairly generic, opening track from Southern Soul Vol. 1, instantly reminding southern soul veterans from whence the artist comes. It also sounds very Mr. David-like. Four other tunes by Demps are featured on the disc, none of hit-song caliber save for "A Lie Don't Care Who Tell It," an especially well-crafted and memorable ballad that charted at #6 on Daddy B. Nice's Top Ten Southern Soul Singles for August 2016.

Listen to Napoleon Demp singing "A Lie Don't Care Who Tell It" on YouTube.

"Damn," a rather sophomoric ballad (temper tantrum based on an argument with the wife about going to the club), "Step," a modestly successful "stepping" song, and "Let Me Get It For The Last Time," a mid-tempo tune in the Marvin Sease style, round out the Napoleon Demps selections.

The over-wrought "Living A Lie" by Katrenia Jefferson is perhaps the highest-profile guest selection. "Living A Lie" was the #1 southern soul song at WDLT's "All Blues Saturdays" in Mobile, Alabama for much of the summer, although I also heard there were behind-the-scenes
machinations behind its prolonged run. I was the first critic to tout Jackson, Mississippi's Jefferson years ago due to her amazing, locally-produced, never-published underground songs, "Chance Of A Lifetime" and "Holding On." I still don't think Jefferson's unique, dramatic skills have gravitated to the right producer, although "What If I" and "That Thang" come close. Katrenia's style is so hyper-emotional it demands a producer who can keep the singer "within" herself rather than pushing her over the emotional and stylistic "edge".

By comparison, Lady T's “Shake” is remarkably modest yet successful, a groove-heavy, bass-dominant dance jam with a raw, rough vocal that perfectly enhances its underground authenticity. First distributed in 2014, ”Shake (Your Money Maker)" was especially well-received on the Gulf Coast, where Mobile’s DJ Nikki DeMarks put it into heavy rotation.

Mister Zay’s (Xavier Ayers’) ”Cut It," is less fun, a tepid if solid single with an oft-used synth-horn line by the vocalist who has had a checkered career since his first southern soul hit single, the Luther Lackey-written ”She Only Wants To See Me On Friday." The latter was never issued on a Mister Zay album but an integral piece of the most influential sampler in contemporary southern soul lore, Mardi Gras Record’s Ultimate Southern Soul (2002).

”(You Can) Never Get It All," by Rashad The Blues Kid, represents southern soul new blood, a young artist whom your Daddy B. Nice likened to “a young, raw, unschooled Lee 'Shot' Williams" in his August 2016 chart debut, ”Shake It." And ”U Got It" by Uncle Wayne completes the line-up of relative “outcasts and unknowns.” Uncle Wayne had a couple of underground singles in 2007, including the interesting ”Red House."

And if in this review I've erred more in line with my initial reaction--hyper-critical--it's incumbent upon me to say that taken as a whole everything on this album sounds natural and well-done, even "Living A Lie" by Katrenia Jefferson, which to newer listeners may sound as wondrous as "Chance Of A Lifetime" once sounded to me. The secret is undoubtedly in the variety of the artists, and the fact that, though roughly-executed when examined individually, the overall effect of the songs in the collection is positive. Napoleon Demps perhaps over-reaches with this ambitious set, but his aggressiveness (adding five artists' songs to his quintet) pays off. Napoleon Demps Presents...Southern Soul Vol. 1 reminds me of the equally interesting if also relatively low-budget samplers out of Montgomery, Alabama, ”Southern Soul Blues: Various Artists Hot Spot Volumes 1-3."

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Napoleon Demps Presents...Southern Soul Vol. 1 at Amazon. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

October 10, 2016:


Sample/Buy Napoleon Demps Presents...Southern Soul Vol. 1 at Amazon.

From Daddy B. Nice's Corner...

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Preview For. . .

-------AUGUST 2016---------

6. "A Lie Don't Care Who Tell It"-------Napoleon Demps

An affecting mid-tempo tune from the same Napoleon who brought you "Who You Been Lovin'" with Mr. David a decade ago. From the upcoming sampler, NAPOLEON DEMPS PRESENTS SOUTHERN SOUL, on sale soon.

Track list:

Party (Radio)
by Nepoleon, Background Vocals Stone Paxton & Floyed Fuller

Living a Lie
by Katrenia

A Lie Dont Care Who Tell It
by Napoleon & Ron G Ronald Suggs

by Napolean & Floyd Fuller

by Lady T.

Cut It
by Mr Zay & Xavier Ayers

Never Get It All
by Rashad the Blues Kid & Jessup Lashawn Crosby

U Got It
by Uncle Wayne

by Napolean & Marcello

Let Me Get It for the Last Time
by Napolean & Gerry Roberts


To automatically link to Napoleon Demp's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations on the website, go to "Demps, Napoleon" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

--Daddy B. Nice

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