No, this post is NOT about the Eddie Murphy comedy special, Raw. It’s an appreciation post for the 1989 album Raw by Def Jam recording artist Alyson Williams. You remember that Raw, right? You should. It was the project that gave us the smash singles “My Love is So Raw,” “Just Call My Name” and “I Need Your Lovin’.” It was the project that introduced us to Williams and her other worldy tone. It was the project that gave us everything, from Jazz to dance, and even a sprinkling of rap.
The New York born and bred Williams was meant to be a star, her father being bandleader/trumpeter Bobby Booker, and after cutting her teeth as a background singer for the likes of Melba Moore and Bobby Brown. She released her first single in 1986 (“Yes We Can Can,” on Profile Records), but it wasn’t until she joined Def Jam a year later that Williams found her footing.
She performed duets with label mates Chuck Stanley and Oran “Juice” Jones in 1987, all leading up to her debut, Raw, two years later “My Love is So Raw” featured label mate and rapper Nikki D., and peaked at #12 on the Billboard R&B charts.
However, it was the other two singles that gave Williams her signature sound. When you heard the opening note to “Just Call My Name,” you automatically knew to head to the dance floor with your lover for the slowest of drags. It was sure to set the mood of the party, causing huge smiles and hookups across the nation. The song reached #4 on the Billboard R&B charts and was in major rotation on every “Quiet Storm” format that’s existed since its release.
“I Need Your Lovin'” went all the way to #5 on the same charts and solidified Williams as a hit maker.
Raw was released during a time when R&B and rap were still basically kissing cousins, so when Def Jam signed Williams, it was kind of a big deal. It gave the two genres space to collaborate without feeling the pressure to force anything. All of the collabs with Williams felt natural. Cohesive. That’s one of the reasons the album will always stand out amongst its fellow releases that year.
The other reason? It’s that damn good.
As we honor Women’s History Month, and celebrate the contributions of dope women as they reach milestones, TODAY we show appreciation for Def Jam recording artist Alyson Williams and her debut album Raw on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.