The Yoke (GUOTR) – Alexander O’Neal – 1991
This was a Jam & Lewis number, because in the early nineties it seemed that most of the chart music you heard had been written by those guys. And in a clever segue, this song was my jam… back when I was still young enough to get away with using phrases like that, of course.
O’Neal was a fairly well known R&B performer in the eighties, but I don’t think he was ever really given his dues. He was always overshadowed by other singers who played in that wheelhouse, especially another favourite of the ladies, Luther Vandross. The public is narrow-minded like that. Two black guys who produce songs under the same umbrella, and suddenly there’s only room for one cowboy in town.
The Yoke is one of O’Neal’s lesser known tracks. It was released as a single but shamefully got nowhere: taste is not ubiquitous. New jack is not a sound that usually does it for me, but this is an exception. I am even down with the rap verse in The Yoke, a musical idiom I am traditionally opposed to.
This is a song that’s best played without any inhibitions, and my tinny laptop speakers don’t do it any justice, so whack up the bass, turn it up loud, and don’t worry if people stare at you – they’re just jealous.