There is almost too much goodness here, but let’s catalogue some of it:
A cover of one of my favorite Sly and the Family Stone songs. Rising R&B and soul star (and resident singer-songwriter of J. Cole’s Dreamville Records) Ari Lennox’s confident, smooth vocals. Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton’s Anthony Ramos’s impassioned crooning. Their chemistry as vocalists. The mission behind the collaboration, which is part of a partnership between The Main Street Alliance and Crown Royal, who launched a national relief campaign to help bars, clubs, and other music venues at risk of shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceeds raised from every stream of Lennox and Ramos’s If You Want Me to Stay will be donated to the fund.
None of that would matter if the song didn’t deliver. Ooooo, but it does. A faithful rendition of the original, Lennox and Ramos’s version retains Sly and the Family Stone’s pulsing groove while smoothing everything else out. The bass guitar is more liquid, less popped. Where Sly’s vocals have bite, this duet’s vocals are all buttery soul.
It works. And, it’s glorious. Be sure to stream the track to contribute the Main Street Relief Fund.