By DJ Johnson

(press play)

Over the last few years the world has taken some major losses with some of the deaths of several major icons. Michael Jackson, B.B. King, Prince and Muhammad Ali (deaths) all are devastating. But the loss of Prince & Ali have shaken me up a little bit more because their impact on my life was more than I realized, so losing them really hurt. I've noticed that when we lose these powerful influencers, social media goes HAM. Everyone displays their love and remorse for their favorite artist or athlete yet it is often met without slight cynicism. I see people often saying "you didn't care about these people when they were alive, why act like you care about them now" , and that's a very valid point (since I was the one who actually said it to a friend) so I'm writing this blog to acknowledge my favorite artists of all time and to let everyone know that when she's gone somebody needs to come and check on me . Helen Folasade Adu (Sade) is the love of my life? I remember vividly it was 1984 and Smooth Operator came out. I was 6 years old living in Atlanta. I remember seeing the video and thinking that “this obviously is what adulthood in Atlanta looks like, and she will be there too.” The way she described the scene and how the video played, how could it not be life?

Diamond life, lover boy
He move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy
City lights and business nights
When you require streetcar desire for higher heights
"Smooth Operator"

I couldn’t wait to grow up, according so Sade I was destined to travel Coast-to-Coast. Lol.


    1985 came and my family picked up and moved to Erie, PA . This was a drastic paradigm shift from the southern lifestyle I was accustomed too. Conversely I had some the best and most influential times in my life . In1985 Erie, Pa was the total inverse of Atl. Small, cold and racially diverse. The hardest thing to get used to was the weather. Strangely I remember Sade dropped Sweetest Taboo, and that was the first time I was able to attach a song to a personal moment in my life. Unlike Smooth Operator, I could hear the elements in this new song music; the use of nature in conveying a mood and tone. And there was this new word that I had to ask my mom about “Taboo”. …. So I asked, “Ma. What does Taboo mean?". “Something that you want that you shouldn’t have, or Something that you have and you’re not supposed to like it, but you do." I got it then. And I CLEARLY felt that way about Erie. Erie was cold as fuck… I mean the wind made noises like a train as it came off the lake and I literally walked a mile back and forth to school in 2 feet of snow daily for 4 months out of the school year. I hated that shit. If you have ever seen A Christmas Story, all I can say is, “Yo, That shit is real son…"
But anyway, Erie, PA is my Sweetest Taboo.  I’m a Southern born summer baby, so me and the cold don’t jive too well. But in the little town I experienced more in 3 years than most people experience in 20. I ran track, wrestled, did karate, tennis, and swam competitively on a national level. I traveled to a solid 35 states and Canada frequently (Niagara Falls was our spot). Shit, I ran numbers, had 2 jobs and even lost my virginity! But more than anything, I LOVED CHRISTMAS. There is nothing more American than a White Christmas.
There's a quiet storm
And it never felt like this before
There's a quiet storm
I think it's you
"The Sweetest Taboo" 

As a southern boy through and through I have no earthly desire to move above the Mason Dixon line ( Except Seattle) but Erie is the place that I will never regret, always remember but Never have to return to.



     Now once I went through puberty Sade’s music held an entirely different contextual meaning in my life. lol. Honestly I didn’t listen to her much between the ages of 10, 14. Hip Hop and R&B took over. It wasn’t until 1992 that Helen shook my soul again. This time she had help. In 9th gradebest friend was a girl. We were thick as thieves 8th & 9th grade, so towards the end of freshman year of course she became by girlfriend. I figured that was the mature thing to do in grown relationships. Be friends first soya’ll wont break up. A couple weeks into the relationship I found out she cheated on me. She kissed a dude in the band!  She claimed that she had to practice because I was so much more advanced than her, and she felt intimidated and blah.. blah.. blah..
At the same time Helen slipped into all of our lives like Jody and told me exactly what I felt and what I needed to hear.  Sade crooned in every car that passed by. She was on every station on the radio. Her voice was on the silver screen! The beat was perfect. I remember feeling that the bass kicked just like an erratic heart beat, broken, beating rhythmically out of sequence …
I gave you all the love I got
I gave you more than I could give
I gave you love
I gave you all that I have inside
And you took my love
You took my love
"No Ordinary Love"

 
The-girl-that-kissed-the-guy-in-the-band and I broke up after a few months and were really pissed with each other for a couple of years (not because of the kiss tho). That was really hard. I mean, she was my best friend after all. We just weren’t good bf/gf. Now during that time I rediscovered Sade’s 3rd album Stronger Than Pride.  I couldn’t believe this album slipped past me and like always, Helens voice gave me healing and guidance….
I won't pretend that I intend to stop living
I won't pretend I'm good at forgiving
But I can't hate you
Though I have tried

I still really really love you
Love is stronger than pride

I love Sade for so many reason. It's strange the things you learn from lyrics and music. I learned how to deal with rejection through this song. She taught me rejection is a cold game andjust because I love some one, to not wait around and be a fool…
 Sitting here wasting my time
Would be like
Waiting for the sun to rise
It's all too clear things come and go
Sitting here waiting for you
Would be like waiting for winter
It's gonna be cold
There may even
Be snow

I still really really love you
Love is stronger than pride

 
Now I could go song for song, year for year and tell you in detail how this woman and her band have created numerous soundtracks to my life but I won't. I will simply just profess my love. Through all of my relationships she has been there, guiding, advising, warning, and healing my heart at every step.  Since I have been a creative she has been a constant inspiration. I have numerous sketches of her, I’ve painted her twice, and I have an unopened 12 vinyl copy of Love Deluxe sitingin a frame on my wall waiting for the day I get met and ask her to sign it.  So basically if Sade had a hive, I would be her guardian wasp. I will not wait until the its to late, I will pay her respects while she is here and tell the cyber world that I Love Sade. She has etched her voice into the skin of my soul, and I will wear it like a tattoo…


 

 DJ Johnsonis Creative Director for AB+L Radioyou can see more of his artwork here..Invert The World Art & Design