If you happen to have bought my old car, you’ll find a copy of Tracy Chapman permanently stuck in your cassette deck. Tracy Chapman was born in Ohio, and graduated with a degree in anthropology and African studies before launching her musical career. While contemporary politically focused hip-hop groups such Public Enemy were drawing attention to social issues in their work, Tracy Chapman packaged the same issues for the mainstream.
Tracy Chapman is a singer-songwriter album, with arrangements varying from the a capella ‘Behind The Wall’ to the commercial pop of ‘Baby Can I Hold You’, but the focus is firmly on Chapman’s lyrics and performances. She criticises a soulless America in the social commentary of ‘Fast Car’ and ‘Mountains O’ Things’, and her social conscience songs are accompanied by relatively unsentimental relationship songs. More than fifteen years after Tracy Chapman‘s release, singles ‘Baby Can I Hold You’, ‘Fast Car’ and ‘Talkin’ Bout A Revolution’ have aged gracefully and are Chapman’s best loved work, while album tracks like ‘Why?’ and ‘For My Lover’ are also solid.
Chapman’s never matched the impact of her debut, and it’s likely that it’s what she’ll be remembered for.