There’s a handful of artists who universally earn a spot on everyone’s sex playlists. Janet, Sade, Prince, etc. Their slow jams, classic and fuck-to-able, are made for cramming between the likes of the new Rihanna (“Yeah I Said It”) and that one flawless Weeknd song you squirm along to (“Earned It”). Sadly, few albums possess that rarest quality of being both palatable for the bedroom and playable from start to finish, thus eliminating the hassle of assembling a playlist in the first place. Urban Hang Suite solves that problem.
For most sex-playlist makers, Maxwell’s debut (released 20 years ago this month) likely wouldn’t come quickly (heh) to mind, not like a Barry White or freaky Janet classic would anyway (though you should at least have one Maxwell song, “This Woman’s Work,” on a list). But deep-cut R&B fans have always appreciated Urban Hang Suite for its effortless expression of true intimacy.
Sex playlists exist to reliably get you (or help keep you) energized, or to gently support your stroke. You’d think repetition would kill the mood, however these songs (Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat”) work precisely because they’re faithful. “Anytime, Anyplace” on repeat remains clutch. Urban Hang Suite is somewhat the elevator music of sex jams, in the best and most earnest way, a smooth, unobtrusive backdrop for whatever you dudes think you’re doing so well.
This is the ultimate sex album that wasn’t necessarily promoted as such: soothing rhythms, breathable instrumentals, beaucoup wooing and the occasional orgasmic falsetto. “...Til the Cops Come Knockin’” is roughly seven minutes in heaven. It’s dangerous.
You should know, there’s a song about marriage (“Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)”), which you might want to avoid if that sounds threatening. Or you can chill and enjoy that it’s an incredibly sweet track, and that this entire album is a sincere, romantic body of work without the over-the-top puke Romeo stuff.
Conceptually, it’s meant as a journey through a relationship, from courtship to matrimony, so Maxwell sings about godly love (“you’re the highest of the high” and all that), commitment, and endless boning into an abyss. You can save it for love-making—maybe that’s best—but the warm, easy melodies make it a great soundtrack for foreplay or just a good lay. Happy 20th, Maxwell, and happy fucking to you. You’re welcome.