Stew released two albums with The Negro Problem before recording under his own name, in a very different (less overtly pop) sound. His last solo album was 2003’s Something Deeper Than These Changes, a record I have featured on the blog a few times.
The odds of them showing up twice in such a short period of time are less than one in a quadrillion — wait, I’m sorry, those are the odds of Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump in each of the four battleground states mentioned in that batshit Texas lawsuit that got laughed out of the Supreme Court.
This is a little throwaway poem/song offering up a snapshot of “93 North” and Main Street, which my Googling suggests might be in Concord, New Hampshire, though that doesn’t make much sense. It might also refer to US 93, which runs from Arizona to Canada, through Nevada, Idaho and Montana. That’s a lot closer to singer-songwriter Stew’s hometown of Los Angeles.
Between 1997 and 2003, Stew released six albums (half under his own name and half under the moniker The Negro Problem). Every one of them is excellent — in fact, his first two solo albums were named as the best of their respective year by Entertainment Weekly.
Then he disappeared.
Well, that’s not exactly true. Fans of the New York theater scene might have caught him performing a couple of autobiographical musicals during the past decade, winning awards and eventually performing both on Broadway and in a filmed performance directed by Spike Lee.
In 2002, following two straight releases under his own name, Stew put out his third Negro Problem album, titled Welcome Black. Like Joys and Concerns, Welcome Black is an avant garde mashup of pop, R&B and funk, filtered through Stew’s cerebral worldview.
The album’s closing song (not including hidden tracks) is a great example of Stew’s talent for absurdist comic tales (the title song of The Naked Dutch Painter is another). In ‘Bermuda Love Triangle (The Waterbed),’ a woman answers a personal ad from a couple seeking a threesome and gets to the hotel to discover her ex-boyfriend and best friend. Don’t you hate it when that happens?