If we were making a list of the best soul albums of the Eighties, Anita Baker’s Rapture would certainly be in my top five, at least. Popping out of (seemingly) nowhere to become the biggest thing in the quiet storm world, Anita had big chops that belied her diminutive stature.
Although 1986’s Rapture was her first dance with mainstream success, she’d scored a hit album on the R&B charts with 1983’s The Songstress, and had even gotten some chart ink a few years earlier as a member of a band called Chapter 8 (music nerd fact: the Chapter 8 song ”I Just Want To Be Your Girl” later formed the musical bed for Bone Thugs n Harmony’s 1995 hit ”1st of Tha Month.”) However, Rapture was another beast entirely. Appealing equally to fans of jazz, pop and soul, the album spent two years on the charts, sold over 4 million copies and made Anita a household name.
While ”Sweet Love” is the song most people recall from Rapture, the bouncy ”Same Ole Love” is one of my favorites. The gently chugging sound is perfect for those weekend days when it’s hot as hell outside and all you want to do is sit on the porch and sip an ice cold beverage. The video is cool, too. It finds Anita hanging out in her home city of Detroit (which was also the area I lived in around the time this song was a hit.) You see all kinds of Motor City landmarks, as well as Anita roller skating to the beat of the song. Detroit certainly doesn’t look like this now. I left the city in 1987, have only returned once since then and was completely thrown by how much the town has deteriorated.
(sorry for the crappy video quality—I can’t believe Anita doesn’t have an official video page with this clip on it.)
After a solid run of hit singles that stretched into the mid Nineties, Anita took an extended vacation, during which she raised two sons and dealt with some pretty severe label and management issues. She hasn’t released an album of new material in over a half decade, although rumors of a new project have persisted for a couple of years. She is active on the performance circuit, performed on last year’s BET Awards with Mary J. Blige (who got her record deal thanks to a version of Anita’s ”Caught Up In The Rapture”) and can also be found on Twitter. I wonder if she still finds the time to roller skate.