Nobody Escapes From Sade

9+1 ways to pay tribute to one of the most popular, sampled and inspirational artists in the past three decades of modern pop

Deftones and Mad Professor are some of the artists who've paid tribute to the British singer and her band, with their renditions of their songs. Over the past few months, the bands and producers using or evoking Sade's music have multiplied. An overview of the wide range of examples.

This 2012 there seems to be more unanimity than ever when it comes to giving props to a diva. Sade Adu, the queen of 80s soul, has influenced some of the best albums released this year, and when asked, their makers all name her as one of their muses. However, it's not new that musicians, writers and producers from any genre look at Sade's records for inspiration and sounds. It's been like that ever since she made her debut in 1984 with “Diamond Life”, which went platinum in the UK and landed her a Grammy for best new artist, alongside a good handful of number-one hits all over the world, and a spot among the 100 best-selling artists ever: 23.5 million so far. As the good Sadephiles that we are, we wanted to give you ten ways to find Sade in modern music.

1. Ango: “No Ordinary Love” + “Get Out Of My Life”

Canadian producer Ango is a self-confessed Sade fan. Last St. Valentine's day, the Montreal artist gave away his version of “No Ordinary Love”. And if that wasn't enough, Ango closed his brooding “Serpentine” mixtape with “Get Out Of My Life”, a track evoking the elegance and nostalgia of many of Sade's songs.

2. Frank Ocean: “By Your Side” (cover)

“Swim Good” and “Lovecrime”, from “Nostalgia, ULTRA”, already suggested that the Odd Future member was influenced by Sade, with that sensual and melancholic sound. And, in fact, certain parts of his first album “Channel Orange” are reminiscent of the British artist. But it became really obvious when Frank Ocean started to play live. His rendition of “By Your Side” (Sade's most recent hit) is part of his live repertoire. Here you can see Frank Ocean in November during his first gig in New York, playing the first single off “Lover’s Rock”.

3. Jessie Ware: “Devotion”

Jessie Ware has yet to do a cover of Sade Adu. But last August she admitted in an interview with The Guardian that she's trying to emulate the style and register of the British-Nigerian singer. It was around the time when Ware's first album “Devotion” came out, after several collaborations with different British dance producers. Judging from the magnificent LP, we strongly believe Jessie Ware is set to become the heiress of British new soul: charisma, grace, sensitivity, a voice with personality, and some good producers to support her.

4. Hype Williams: “The Throning”

In 2010, Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland made their debut as Hype Williams with the album “Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Getting’ Reel”. Among the tracks on the LP released on De Stijl Records is “The Throning”, a lo-fi, layered, and echoing version sung by Estonian Copeland of “The Sweetest Tabu”, one of Sade's biggest hits. The Hyperdub duo's rendition is just one example of the versatility of Sade's songs, capable of permuting successfully in any kind of genre, not necessarily linked with R&B.

5. Jody Breeze: “The Way I Move”

Footwork is one of the most parasitic dance music styles around, entirely depending on samples, remixes and covers. Yet, in spite of that, certain producers manage to surprise you with their revisions of tunes you may have heard millions of times. Such is the case with “The Way I Move”, a track by Jody Breeze from Terra Squad, included on “Eezy Breezy Beautiful”, an EP released by Ghettophiles at the height of the global juke hype. Is juke easily adaptable to any other style, or is Sade the adaptable one? Probably both; that's why this sound’s so sublime.

6. Theophilus London: “Love Is More Red”

Early last summer, the New York dandy gave us “Rose Island Vol. I”, a mixtape full of brilliant collaborations; including ones with Big Boi and A$AP Rocky, and the productions by luminaries such as Mark Ronson and new talents like Lunice and Machinedrum. Furthermore, Theophilus London used the release to bring us his personal reinterpretation of “Soldier Of Love”, the title track of the British singer's last studio album.

7. The xx: “Coexist”

The xx are an example comparable to Jessie Ware. They haven't played a Sade track yet, either, but after the release of “Coexist”, their second studio album, Oliver Sim confessed to have taken inspiration from the voice and songs of Sade Adu. “I'm such a fan and I'm shamefully late to her music as well. But I got into it because she was touring her last record. Not only does she have the most beautiful voice ever but the way she writes, to me she kind of compacts really complex emotions and delivers them in a very simple, brave way, and I find it very inspiring.” Shortly before “Coexist” came out, The xx stuck this interview with Sade on their Tumblr page.

8. D. Gómez: “Diamante Negro” + Agorazein: “Balas Perdidas”

Spanish rap has also paid tribute to Sade. In this case, twice. First it was D. Gómez from Corredores de Bloque. On his mixtape “Rock & Fly” you can find this “Diamante Negro” ( “Black Diamond”), with a sensual beat built from “I Never Thought I’d See The Day”. Last March, the boys from Agorazein released their single “Balas Perdidas” ( “Stray Bullets”), produced by Emelvi. The beat is made from parts of “Is It A Crime”.

9. El Perro Del Mar: “Walk On By”

Swedish singer Sarah Assbring is the latest to fall for the musical charm of Sade, with her project El Perro Del Mar. She's about to release her new album, “Pale Fire”, and the latest single taken from it is in debt to the organic percussions, downtempo warmth and ultra-sensual diction featured on many of Sade Adu and her band's greatest hits. “Pale Fire” is due out on 12th November on Memphis Industries, boasting nine tracks which, we hope, will all pay homage to Sade's musical legacy as beautifully as this “Walk On By”.

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