The Cassingle Vault: Keith Sweat, “I Want to Love You Down”

Written by Music, The Cassingle Vault

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Keith Sweat – I Want to Love You Down (1992)

First of all, no. No, I did not own this when it came out. Not that there’s anything wrong with Keith Sweat, necessarily, but he wasn’t even on my lily-white radar in ’92; it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve developed an (admittedly heavily ironic) appreciation for his gifts. Nope, “I Want to Love You Down” was part of a box of cassingles — still wrapped! — that arrived here last week, a gift from a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous. You know, at one point, I was worried that I’d eventually run out of cassingles to write about. These days, the Vault is full to stuffin’, and I’m worried I’ll never run out.

Which is why Keith Sweat has to be the subject of this week’s Cassingle Vault. You see the look on his face. I can’t have him in there with the other cassingles, or they’re going to start multiplying.

What would be great is if this single had “I Want Her” on it. Then we could do less talking and just sort of dance around while the song played. But no, this was the third single from Sweat’s third album, 1992’s Keep It Comin’, and it marks the spot where he started to fall off. (Goddammit, Keith Sweat fans, I know he had hits well into the late ’90s — I’m saying this was where he started to fade.) “I Want to Love You Down” (download) didn’t crack the Billboard Hot 100, but more importantly, it was Sweat’s first single to peak outside the R&B Top 10.

And it’s easy to see why: Sweat’s New Jack sound, so popular (and influential) in the late ’80s, was losing popularity by ’92. (Just ask Bobby Brown, whose Bobby tanked later in the year.) R&B was turning a corner in the early ’90s, and Sweat’s tinkling synths were rapidly becoming passé.

That being said, I sort of love this song, and here are the two reasons why:

1. In the second verse, when Sweat sings “Let’s take a shower, baby, you see the water is fine,” you can hear a shower in the background — and then he says “Pass me the soap.” Keith Sweat’s audience did not come to him looking for subtlety. He did his best to oblige.

2. In the picture on the cover of the cassingle, he’s wearing a bracelet that says “KEITH.” This is fucking awesome. I can just see him at the club in 1992:

Keith Sweat: (happening upon a young lady) Hello, baby.

Young Lady: Hi. What’s your name?

Keith Sweat: What’s wrong, bitch? Can’t you read?

Actually, no, wait, there are three reasons I love this single — the third one is that the B-side is called “Let Me Love You” (download), which is sort of like Boyz II Men putting a song called “The Place Where We Have to Stop and Park” on the flip side of “End of the Road.” Keith Sweat always did have a one-track mind, God bless him; he was the R. Kelly for a kinder, gentler time. I, for one, miss him. I think I may actually have to go buy his greatest hits now.