Sometime in 2007 or 2008, I felt myself looking to other genres for musical fulfillment. Hip-hop has always been my first love, but I think there comes a time when everyone begins to explore outside of their bubble. My foray into other corners of music has taken some strange twists and turns. Like anything, when you leave your comfort zone, your tastes aren’t usually refined and you might end up liking something that years later you look at as pretty awful (see: the debut album by the other singer in NSYNC). But even through the growing pains of the bad or subpar, you find gems as well. A Beautiful World by Robin Thicke, was one such gem.
By the time I’d discovered this album, Robin Thicke was already on his third album Something Else after the breakout success of The Evolution Of Robin Thicke, but neither of those albums caught my ear the way ABW did and still does. I was in my room, down a youtube wormhole of old music and came across the music video for “When I Get You Alone” and remembering how much I enjoyed that song. At the time, Robin was just going by his surname, but I can remember just how much 14 year old me enjoyed that record and music video. I remember it debuting on BET and thinking how odd the video of this long haired white boy running around NYC on a bike was, but I remember really enjoying the song and wondering why the album never popped.
A Beautiful World, initially released in October 2002, under the name “Cherry Blue Skies” but failed to sell. It was re-released with 2 new tracks on April 15, 2003, but the re-release did little to help sales. And the reason might be that the album was a bit ahead of the curve, musically. ABW contains elements of RnB, Soul, Blues, Funk, Rock and Pop. The live band feel of the album and it’s grooves are undeniable, but for a white kid in 2003, it was probably a bit much. I heard this album and was immediately blown away. From the intro, “Shooter” to “Suga Mama” and “She’s A Gangsta” it’s clear Thicke wanted a groovy sound and he delivered. Thicke even shows off his chops on piano with the acoustic songs “A Beautiful World” and “The Stupid Things.” The standouts are the singles, the aforementioned “When I Get You Alone” and “Brand New Jones”
Thicke himself said of the album in 2008 that it was an “expression and the limitless possibilities of music” and that’s about as apt a description as you can get. It’s not confined to one genre, it starts off with a bass groove that was later revived by Lil Wayne on Tha Carter II and ends with two rock songs “Lazy Bones” and “Cherry Blue Skies” while making pit stops at soul, funk and RnB along the way. The best part is it still sounds as good to me in 2018 as it did when I discovered it in 2008. If anything, it shows that there’s never an expiration date on good music. And while Thicke’s recent behavior has been nothing short of reprehensible, this album still stands up and it’s easily my favorite album from him and is usually fighting for a place in my 5 albums I’d take to a desert island…but that’s a story for another day. So, if you haven’t already, go listen!