By Daria Fennell
“Halfcrazy.” “SoBeautiful.” “Love.” Musiq Soulchild has been turning out consistent hits for over a decade. Recently, he just completed the exciting “Nu Soul Revival” tour that featured Kindred the Family Soul, Avery Sunshine, and Lyfe Jennings. Go ahead and light some Black love incense as Musiq shares his thoughts on his extensive music career, the advice he would give to new music artists, and the ways he’s taking his artistry to the next level.
UPTOWN: You’ve been incredible and consistent musically since you started. I just want to give you mad props for that.
Musiq Soulchild: Thank you very much.
U: No worries. No worries. Congratulations on your twelfth Grammy nomination. It is very well deserved. And I also know that your “Nu Soul Revival” tour with Kindred the Family Soul, Lyfe Jennings, and Avery Sunshine is beginning to wind down. What has been one of your most exciting experiences on this tour? And what are two of your favorite cities on this tour and why?
MS: Just being on the tour is exciting, to be able to share the space with really cool people, really awesome artists. Two cities that were really cool were Philly and D.C.
U: I’m from D.C. originally, so thank you. But why do you like those two cities?
MS: When I came out there, they showed a whole lot of love. And the type of music that soul music is, it really helps when people give us their energy. It kind of contributes to the overall vibe of the show. That’s always cool.
U: Very nice. Willie Hyn (pronounced Hen), an artist on your new Soul Star Music Company, is on tour with you. What did you see in Willie that made you want to sign him to your new record label? And how did your record label come about?
MS: We’re still working it out, making it official. He’s a very diverse artist. Most people that hear him or see him, the first thing that they get is the rapper. He’s more than the rapper. Rapping is his first focus, so to speak. There’s a whole lot more to him. He’s an all-around artist and it’s very inspiring being around people like him. They are always motivating you creatively to be a better artist, because you see somebody else trying to express themselves with their artistry — their gift of being creative. He definitely got bars. There’s more to him than just rapping.
U: How did you actually meet him and connect?
MS: Through my musical director, Jonathan Troy, aka “J Troy.” He’s also somebody that I collaborate with a lot. I was working on a project for TheHusel and I needed a rapper. And he just called him up and it just fell in place. When I met him, we just connected on the creative level. On the regular level, he’s a cool dude to be around, doesn’t have a whole bunch of crap going on. It made sense. He’s very easy to work with. Not every artist is compatible with every artist, unfortunately, for whatever reason. With him, it was too easy.
U: I was under the impression that your record label was done, locked, and loaded.
MS: I think people get that vibe because that’s kind of how we’re rolling with it.
U: Yeah, how professional you are.
MS: Yeah, that’s the goal anyway, you know what I’m saying. And that’s a representation of the type of relationship that we have. If I have something that’s going on, like “Bro, let me go ahead and throw you the ball.” You just take it. [J Troy’s] like brother. I’m rolling. He just rolls with it. He gets my intentions. He gets the concept of making progress. He’s not holding back like “OK, but what the bread like? What the paperwork like?” Like “Dude, let’s just try to figure it out first.” And then we can see what can be done. He has a very professional mindset. So that’s probably why a lot of people get this vibe. That’s definitely what it’s going to be anyway. I just want to make it clear for the record.
U: I am really enjoying “Simple Things,” the new single off your forthcoming album. That joint cranks. What will be the vibe and direction of your new album and how is your approach different creatively from Aijuswanaseing, your debut album?
MS: Everything is different from Aijuswanaseing. On Aijuswanaseing, I really wasn’t working on an album. I just literally wanted to sing some songs. I wanted to hear myself and play them for people and see what they thought. Now, I am doing things to stay in the game of inspiring people through music. It’s just so much to do and I’m trying to find a way where I can do it all, or at least do more than I’ve done before. And let people know how much there is out there to do versus people just continuously expecting you to do the same thing over and over again. I totally understand the concept of staying in the lanes of what people like from you, and have been exposed to, because you don’t want to push people away and have them not recognize what you’re doing anymore. So I’m definitely going to keep that in mind. However, I feel like it’s kind of impossible to expect an artist to not grow.
U: You’re constantly evolving.
MS: Just like anybody else, doing anything else. But unfortunately, in our community of music so many people want you to stay put. I’m kind of working on how to find that space where people who love me can get what they need out of the new project. And people who’ve never even heard of a Musiq Soulchild can be introduced to where I am now in a way where it’s relevant in their lives today. We’re going to be putting out a lot of music. Every song is going be different from each other. And I feel like it’s important because it always gives you something to look forward to so you’re not listening to an album full of songs that sound exactly the same. I feel like that would be kind of cheating people.
U: Who are some of the current artists that you are listening to and why do you dig them?
MS: I don’t listen to a lot of stuff when I’m recording. I kind of want to stay out of people’s way. As an artist, sometimes we unconsciously incorporate what other people are doing into what you’re doing. You’re in that space of being inspired. In the past, I’ve had people really come up to me like hey man, heard you did on your project what I did on mine. I’m like dude, I wasn’t really trying to copy you. I kind of put myself in somewhat of a vacuum, not that I really care. Just out of respect that people don’t feel like I’m taking their style. We’re all inspired in the same way. Nobody is doing anything for the first time at all. Like me, for instance, if somebody was doing something that you can see they probably got from me, or heard me do something and they thought it was cool and they want to do it, I wouldn’t feel that way but that’s just me. At the end of the day, if you’re doing something that someone else is doing, that’s publishing. We got to talk about money. It’s really not that deep. There have been a few people that I dig like Willie Hyn which is why I’m working so closely with him. There’s this other artist. Her name is Rae Louise. She’s really dope, I like listening to her a lot. I actually had an opportunity to meet her and will hopefully work with her really soon. I like to creatively stay out of people’s business. You can’t get away from what plays and what you hear on the radio and social media. I don’t actively look for anything when I’m creating and putting together a project. That way I not only stay out of people’s way but also keep whatever it is that I’m doing as authentic as possible.
U: What suggestions would you give newer artists so that they can have the longevity that you’ve been blessed with?
MS: I guess I would tell them to do their best to be their best. And not work so hard to try to be like someone else. I think that’s what helped me. When you’re chasing a trend and chasing something that somebody else did and made popping, you’re kind of limited to that success of the thing you’re chasing versus you doing you. And no one will ever be able to do you better than you. So at any point in time, just focus on investing and being a better you, artistically and creatively. It’s doesn’t matter what’s going on because if it’s good, people will dig it.
U: Musiq, I really enjoyed this. What special message do you have for your fans who are our UPTOWN readers?
MS: Thank You for your support!
[Images: eOne Music]
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