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ICYMI, Verzuz hosted a Valentine’s Day edition of soulful music from artists Anthony Hamilton and Musiq Soulchild. We were getting a sturdy plate of love and baby-making music, a bowl of heartbreak and a slice of hip-hop.

As an R&B/Neo Soul fanatic, this was a show I was not going to miss. However, I proceeded with extreme caution as to not get my hopes up on Musiq and unfortunately, I was right.

I’m a concert groupie. I’ve seen both Anthony Hamilton and Musiq live on multiple occasions. The first time I saw Musiq, I was hella disappointed. He was flat, lifeless and hit a couple of notes wrong. This was the same formula in times proceeding, and when I went to see the Love Jones musical some years back, he didn’t even show up. So I’ve come to accept that he’s just not the greatest live performer. When it came to last night’s Verzuz, my expectations were low.

Real talk, I was a fan of the blue jean, crop  hoodie that the internet said he copped from Fashion Nova.

And I absolutely love his catalog, especially since he was one of the first artists to say my name in his song “Previouscats” But once again, the performance didn’t do it for me like his albums did.

It’s debatable as to whether or not the venue’s sound system contributed to the quality, but overall, Musiq did too much. The main thing is, homie was hitting runs and riffs excessively and unnecessarily and they didn’t sound good. Like, he had more runs in his performance than Flo Jo had in her entire career.

musiq soulchild
Musiq Soulchild: color him Purple. /Photo by Phil McCarten/PictureGroup/ via AP IMAGES

Musiq’s runs were stiff and stale

Runs and riffs are basically melodic enhancements that intensify emotions behind the lyrics. Big and Lil’ Lutha Vandross did them masterfully. I’m not a huge Mariah Carey fan, but I gotta give it to sis when it comes to hitting those runs and riffs live. Jazmine Sullivan, Jill Scott, Yolanda Adams–they’ll make you wanna slap somebody when they get to running and riffing. Musiq Soulchild, on the other hand, made me wanna throw my remote at the tv at times –adding off-key runs and riffs to every other word, almost ruining the reasons why we fell in love with certain songs in the first place.

Now don’t get me wrong, he can absolutely hit those runs and riffs because he’s done it on his albums. It’s just something about leaving the studio and coming to the stage. The simplicity and sensible flow gets lost in translation. And I don’t know if in his 20+ year career Musiq is just now finding out that he gives a lackluster live performance and had a point to prove last night. But, it was just extra.

I can’t sing worth a damn. Thank God I don’t know the pressures of having to perform and be perfect in front of millions of people. But what I do know is sometimes, simpler is better. And I’m not trying to go in on brother Soulchild but in his battle to beat himself, he kinda soured the experience for some of his longtime fans.

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work--"If not me then who?" As a strategist and injustice interrupter, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for radical...