In 1998, Chicago’s own Large Music released the Soul Searching EP. If you have this record in your collection, you’ll understand why it’s very unexpected but very good news that its creator, DJ Ra Soul, has resurfaced again after many years of unexpected silence.
The three Soul Searching EPs progressed like a wave, each still better than the previous one. They stand today as a sort of landmark of one of Deep House’s moments of temporary ascendency and presaging its future direction. When people tell me about the sudden fever in Europe for that “mid-’90s Deep House sound” – there is no better example of it than the beats sealed on wax by Ra Soul.
And then their creator disappeared. Ra Soul became another one of those ghostly legends of House Music – and if the records themselves didn’t exist, we’d assume this was all some kind of a hoax or a strange dream. From 2005 onward, nobody seemed to know what happened to him, when suddenly a new EP called Take It Slow appeared on Miami’s So Sound Recordings.
“Rather than tiptoe around this subject or put a spin on it, I’m going to be blunt,” he told me about the lost years. “Drugs and alcohol took me out of the game. The last several years I struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. I lost everything and hit bottom pretty hard.
“A little over a year and a half ago through the suggestion of a good friend I decided to face my alcoholism and addiction. I live a clean and sober life now.”
The influence the Soul Searching EPs have had on a new generation of producers has left him “somewhat surprised. Over the years many people have told me that they were inspired by those records. At first I didn’t realize how much of an effect my music had but after hearing many different people from around the world saying that they were inspired by my songs I had to believe it was true.”
The new EP has that classic Ra Soul sound with some interesting new wrinkles. The titles – “Temptation”, “Let’s Work” and the title track – suggest that “take it slow” is less a working title than a motto.
Whatever it takes – it’s just good to have you back. Take It Slow is out now digitally on So Sound Recordings.