Personnel: Maxwell (vocals); Stuart Matthewman (guitar, saxophone, bass); MUSZE (guitar, keyboards, drums, programming); Wah Wah Watson, H (guitar); Eric Friedlander, Rufus Cappadocia (cello); Kevin Batchelor (trumpet); Vincent Chauncey (French horn); Clark Gayton (trombone); David Gamson (keyboards, programming); Amp Fidler, Federico Pena, Itaal (keyboards); Mike Neal, Gary Foote, Jonathan Maron (bass); Gene Lake, P.M. (drums, programming); Bashiri Johnson, Karl Vanden Bosshe, Gregory Marsh (percussion).
Producers: MUSZE, Stuart Matthewman, P.M.
Recorded at Electric Lady, RPM, Sorcerer and Chung King, New York, New York; CRC, Chicago, Illinois.
MAXWELL'S URBAN HANG SUITE was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.
Welcome to Maxwell's, where the groove always flows and love fuels all. Eschewing the slicker tendencies of contemporary R&B, Maxwell joins young turks D'Angelo and Tony Rich in looking back to the aesthetics of '70s soul for inspiration. Opening and closing with instrumentals ("The Urban Theme" and "The Suite Theme"), URBAN HANG SUITE is knee-deep in wah-wah guitar, funky Rhodes piano and lush, atmospheric sounds that evoke silk sheets and champagne.
Although Al Green and Marvin Gaye are obvious touchstones, Maxwell avoids vocal theft, instead appropriating the way those singers inextricably meld their music and their sensuality. The breathy quiet-storm sax that closes out "Welcome" is as much a part of the sexual vibe as the sinewy funk and propulsive rhythm of "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)." Oozing with sensuality, URBAN SUITE is a soundtrack for an evening of romance.
Rolling Stone (12/26/96, p.186) - "...evokes the prodigious bedroom electricity of FOR YOU-era Prince. You can also hear plenty of MFSB, Barry White and Marvin Gaye on the record....Maxwell massages his influences deep into the pink-satin folds of URBAN HANG SUITE'S cozy grooves..."
Entertainment Weekly (4/5/96, p.80) - "...While he can't yet claim the throne occupied by Marvin Gaye, he smooths hip-hop's and soul's edges, proving that black dance music doesn't automatically mean ghetto culture." - Rating: B+
Q (6/02, p.134) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...One of the very best R&B records of the '90s..."
Vibe (3/96, p.132) - "...[Maxwell's] style calmly fluctuates between cool jazz and ballad-heavy R&B....MAXWELL'S URBAN HANGOUT SUITE is a refreshing detour from hump-bouncin' '90s R&B."
Village Voice (2/25/97) - Ranked #20 in the Village Voice's 1996 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.