Q Parker, for those unfamiliar with the name, is one part of the hugely successful R&B foursome 112. Originating from Atlanta, Georgia and signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, the group had five albums between the years of 1996 and 2005. Also Grammy winners for their contribution to the Notorious B.I.G. tribute record “I’ll Be Missing You,” Q, Daron, Slim, and Michael are often referred to as one of the better R&B groups of the golden era by fans and critics alike. With that said, and a reunion apparently on the cards, the time has come for Q to go it alone and reignite the type of R&B that not only plays the soundtrack to a couple’s romantic evening but also provides the backdrop to many a passionate person’s everyday life.
With a current lack of what some would deem real R&B, just leave it up to the oldies and you’re guaranteed to be provided with some of that good old classic rhythm and blues music. A play on words, The MANual hears Q offers his thoughts of what a man’s book on women, love and sex would sound like in audio format. With features from just Crystal Nicole, Faith Evans and Styles P, it’s refreshing to hear the primary artist dominate the tracklisting without an overhaul of guest spots used to cover up a questionable talent – like many of today’s so-called singers like to do. With so many high points throughout the 15-track LP it’s hard to know where to start the dissection.
Cruising over the mid-tempo riff that carefully constructs “Show You How,” Q’s vocal stance is one of convincing qualities. Trying to show the lady next door that there’s life after her ex – a better one in fact – his irresistible crooner ways do enough to win the leading lady over in the end. Any man in a situation where they want to win the heart of a mistreated woman need only this record… and perhaps a dozen red roses just for good measure.
Then at the other end of the relationship scale, “Forced My Hand” hears what can happen to a couple when neglect and lies creep in. Singing, “You gonna cry when you hear this on the radio,” Q’s painful words, for both parties, are as transparent as they come. Breaking down every reason for pushing his ex out of the picture, the slow and painfully sensitive song could ring true for a few tuning in.
With examples of good and bad relationship situations, The MANual wouldn’t be a true R&B album without the complimentary sex record. Fittingly titled “YES,” the cut itself begins with a separate interlude featuring some moaning and ecstasy-filled groaning. Then the very second the track begins you’re thrown in to the mix of high notes and low levels of clothing. Candlelit moments are all that’s missing, but as a listener you’ve got a certain responsibility to not let Q do everything. So on that note get your lighters out.
Getting his gritty on with Styles P, “Better” hears Q give the streets a love song to relate to. While slow and piano-driven, the track pushes machoism to one side – with the help of two fairly dominant males – and proves that behind closed doors anyone can step outside of their persona for that special someone. With more and more sweet sounding moments throughout The MANual, the likes of “How I Love You” and “Just Us” give meaning to the words ‘flawlessly constructed’, whilst the album’s on-point production is key in making it one of the year’s finest R&B releases.
As an underdog, and perhaps not the most recognised voice of 112, Q Parker has delivered something that no one saw coming. If you’re looking for something to remind you of why you still support R&B, The MANual will make you glad you held out for this one.