Better than "The Game" and as good as "Long Time No See"
J. Highsmith | Mitchellville, Maryland United States | 05/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After droppin' 1997's "Long Time No See" and 1999's "The Game" it seemed as if Chico DeBarge had almost dropped out of sight. He did have a CD single out for the song "Playa Hater" in 2000, but I hadn't heard anything about a full length release coming from Chico anytime soon. "Long Time No See" was a classic in my opinion especially when you compare the CD to other recent r&b CDs at the time. Of course, he was treading the same water as D'Angelo, Maxwell and others, but the overall flow of the CD and its Neo Soul feel had me listening to the CD so much that I had to buy another copy because I played the other one so much that the CD began to scratch. My favorite songs were clearly "Virgin", "Love Still Good", "No Guarantee", and "Physical Train" but the whole CD could be played without fast forwarding any track. The CD received a big boost once the "No Guarantee" (Remix) with Joe was released as well. 1999's "The Game" did a good job of trying to equal "Long Time No See" but it did not succeed in doing so. Don't get me wrong Chico did have some good songs with the title track, "When Can I See You Again", "Everybody Knew But Me" and the remake of Marvin Gaye's "Til Tomorrow", the material just wasn't as good as "Long Time No See". When I learned that Chico DeBarge was dropping another CD I was eager to pick the CD up but once it was released I didn't buy the CD immediately. However, I was glad that I did get the CD eventually. Although his new CD is on an independent label, that doesn't take away from the quality of the CD. "Free" proves that the 3rd time is definitely a charm for Chico DeBarge. "Free" starts off with the midtempo "It's Cool" where Chico talks about the ups and downs of being in a relationship where deceit is occurring. However, in the end Chico still ends up having feelings for her. The title track has Chico expressing his feelings about wanting to take the next step with a woman but leaving the ultimate choice up to her in the long run. Chico always has good writing skills and they are enhanced when he has the right music behind him. It doesn't get much prettier than "Smile". Although the slow jam is short in length, it is a very inspirational song. Anyone that has lost faith in Chico should listen to this song and they will quickly change their opinion of his music. "The Unloved" takes a page out of the Sade handbook as Chico is definintely displaying his Neo Soul capabilities on this track. If you are a Sade fan like I am, "Like A Tattoo" will flash in your head as you listen to this song. The uptempo "Home Alone" is clearly one of the CD's best tracks. It will remind you of "Love Jones" or "One Love" from "Long Time No See". "Style" and "Virtuous" sound like updated versions of Long Time No See's "Ms. Wonderful", but both of the tracks are nice slow jams. "Page From The Journal" has Chico reflecting on everything from how children are being brought up to the consequences of what happens after our country is at war. "Questions" is well put together as well as he will have you thinking and checking yourself about the questions that he is asking throughout the song. The song that would be the perfect single choice for this CD is clearly "Not 2 Gether". Chico DeBarge and Joe collaborate once again and this track displays why they work well together. This midtempo track is defintely one of the best tracks on "Free". All in all, "Free" is as good as "Long Time No See", although it is not easy to top his classic debut. The only things that I can find wrong with "Free" is that some of the songs can sound repetitive and you may also say that I have heard this Neo Soul sound before with other artists. Other than that, I would say that we have a semi classic on our hands here ladies and gentlemen. You will definitely feel the determination and passion through Chico's words and you also find a delightful CD to listen to in my opinion. "Free" is definitely one of the best r&b CDs out right now.James' Top 51) Home Alone
2) Not 2 Gether
5) It's Cool"
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Free is Beautiful. Thank you Chico for such a beautiful album."Free" is like a soundtrack for relecting, reminiscing, forgeting, grieving, falling in love, making love, making up and moving on. The tracks flows effortlessly making listening even more pleasurable.The only negative thing: I'm mad that "Smile" is only three minutes and eleven seconds! It is such a BEAUTIFUL SONG! I have no favorite cuts cause I love everything so far. I love this album and hope it won't be the last from Mr. DeBarge."
Romello | Canada | 03/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chico DeBarge has came out of the struggle and showed us that it can be done.This his 6th album has reveald other sides of the artist.This is not his best work compared to "Long Time No See"but it shows growth in many ways."Smile"(not long enough and leaves you yearning for more)is the best track hands down with "free" not far behind.listening to the lyrics you can't help feeling remanicent of marvin gaye or stevie even.Chico .If you were a fan of any of his albums you will enjoy this one.I gave it five stars cuz..um well yo its chico ..and he shows growth ,in which many artist of today never do.I can't say it''s as good as "the game" or "long time no see",it's a lil diferent album.Defenetly Neo-Soul andmuch more spiritual,less sexual.It's a shame record companies don't exposed artist who wish to sing about hope instead of sex.Chico DeBarge don't change and say waz up to El DeBarge for me...will he even be back to bless us?I was hoping there would be a latin cut on this album ..like "your way" off of the last album,you know latinos like neo -soul too ni***a!peace...and one luv.heart,mind&soul."
Carltouis Stevenson | Angeles Mesa, Los Angeles | 02/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hence the title, Free. More that just a song on this cd that says he's okay with the freedom he has with being independent now with his own label. Just as the song said "It's Cool," Chico is just that. No hippy-hop tracks just real r&b. This is definately an ice breaker for someone you've just met and invited them over (fellas take heed.) For if you are looking for something aside from the usual tunes that are on heavy rotation on the radio, then this is for you. Chico is uplifting, positive and conscience of society and just simply being a man. Heartfelt and compassioniately written, produced and performed by Chico. This will set you free after a long day at work!"
Free your mind tonite
Beverly | USA | 07/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan, pick this up. IMO it is his best work. I think Chico is FREE from all the glitz, hype, and mass production. He did the writing, producing, playing and singing on this one so I feel you get ALL of him in one package. In this project his talent and genius soars to new heights in a mix of sensuality and spirituality unparalleled in today's music scene. Check out his heart felt "Page From My Journal" and the title cut "Free" as well as "Smile" and his tribute to women in "Virtuous". Love the fact that he can bare his soul with such honesty. This is a new Chico who is more mature and I for one simply can not wait until the next CD... word is that he IS in the studio working on a CD that will be out 2007! Keep up the great work Chico!"