Willie has co-written and written songs with and for Avant, Joe, Jagged Edge, Ginuwine and of course his group DAY26. As Willie continues to establish himself as a noted songwriter, there is no doubt that the sky is the limit for him as he is preparing to go back in the studio with DAY26 in February to start recording the group’s upcoming third album under Atlantic Records.
DAY26 made a blockbuster chart debut last April with their sophomore album, “FOREVER IN A DAY.” The album – which includes the hit single, “Imma Put It On Her (Feat. Yung Joc and Diddy)” – entered Billboard’s “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” chart at #1, while also landing at #2 on the comprehensive Billboard 200 with sales in excess of 113,000. The group went on to win the 2009 BET Award for Best Group and received a nomination for the 2009 American Music Awards in the category of Favorite R&B/Soul Group Band or Duo. DAY26 just received a nomination for the 41st NAACP Image Awards in the category of Outstanding Group, Duo or Collaboration.
In 2008, DAY26 entered the record books as the biggest-selling debut album from a male R&B group in the 17-year history of Soundscan. The album – which included the hit singles, “Got Me Going” and “Since You Been Gone” – exploded into the #1 spot on the Soundscan/Billboard 200 in its first week of release, while also topping Billboard’s “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” chart.
In this exclusive interview with UrbanBridgez.com, Willie talked to Aries about his new mixtape “Sex Tape,” Que‘s departure from Day 26, the new Day 26 album, bloggers and much more!
UrbanBridgez.com: When did you first begin to put “Sex Tape” together and how did you come up with the idea?
Willie Taylor: Well it started with me just having a small break off tour. Me having a studio at my crib and just being the writer I am. It was just an idea and being a writer, that was just one of my talents. So I just went into this room and did my thing. So I decided to put it out as a mixtape, just so the world would at least know that part of me. Because the television show never aired or gave the fans that insight on me.
UrbanBridgez.com: I recently learned alot of mixtapes are coming out on the 14th.
Willie Taylor: Yeah I just learned that too! (everyone laughs)
UrbanBridgez.com: Why should music fans download yours?
Willie Taylor: Well I think because mine was put together and I wasn’t even trying to cater to the 14th. I just had came up with the topics and the title of “Sex Tape,” I felt like with that holiday being next. This would be like the perfect time to do it. So for me, mine is 12 bedroom records, no club records! No time to pause, just a soundtrack to your bedroom. So I think if anybody is in the valentines day mood, then that should be the first pick you should go and grab!
UrbanBridgez.com: Do you have any future plans on releasing a full solo release between Day 26 projects?
Willie Taylor: Well nah, not right now. Right now it’s all Day 26! This was just something I was doing off to the side, just to let the world know I was a writer also. We’re actually suppose to get back in the studio in a few weeks. To start working on the third album and I’m really excited to be going back into the studio with the guys. We’re gonna get it crackin, I know the fans are waiting on it.
UrbanBridgez.com: You’re also an accomplished songwriter, have you been writing for other artists lately as well?
Willie Taylor: Well no, not really. I shut the studio down really to just focus and do the music I wanted to do for the mixtape. So recently no I haven’t been in with anybody but now that I’m finished. I’m ready to jump back in the studio with some artists and create stuff for other people.
UrbanBridgez.com: Was it hard for you & Day 26 to announce to the fans that Que was no longer in the group?
Willie Taylor: That was hard, the hardest thing! Just for us to even get to that point was hard for us. Just getting to the point of having to remove a member from the group is going to be hard. We didn’t want to do it ourselves & we didn’t want to have to bring it to our fans. Who have supported us through whatever. So nothing was easy in that situation at all! We do want to wish him the best of luck man. We want him to keep going, but at the end of the day it’s a business! It’s nothing personal.
UrbanBridgez.com: When can fans expect a new Day 26 album and what direction are you guys going in with the new release after loosing a member and growing as a group?
Willie Taylor: They can most def look for the album sometime this year, later on in the year! As far as direction wise, we’re going to all figure it out. At the end of the day, it’s going to be a combination of what we gave with album #1 and album #2. We pretty much know what the fans are looking from us now. We just want to go and cater to that and come up with the hit records that they need for us to have, you know.
UrbanBridgez.com: You guys are up for an NAACP Image Award this year, do you guys plan on attending the awards?
Willie Taylor: Yeah most def we’ll be there! Anytime we’re nominated that’s when we’re in the building (laughs). We’re very excited about that man, anytime we’re nominated for anything we’re excited. Because we came from a TV show where people tried to count us out. So for us to be nominated for things and winning things like BET awards for Best Group and things like that, it really means alot to us. People don’t understand or some forget. Like with me I was grinding 9 years going into Making The Band, so that’s 9 years that they never saw. They only see what they see on TV but they don’t know I was a starving artist, I lived out of my car, I did the whole nine yards. This was my dream, and that’s the same thing I can say for my brothers. We really want it in a whole other way, so when we get nominated it’s always a blessing.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s the best and worst parts about being in the music industry right now?
Willie Taylor: Worst part is the album sales, you know. Sales are down! But I guess the best part is just being out there. For me, when you dream about something your whole life and you’re able to reach many people and many fans. And people anticipating things coming out from you & having that channel I guess is really the best part for me. To show the world what you can do!
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve made headlines on many blogs in recent months, how did you deal with it all, the good and bad?
Willie Taylor: Well you know at the end of the day, as long as they’re talking you know. I remember a time when nobody gave a hell who Willie Taylor was, you know what I mean. But they’re talking, something’s are in the good and some are in the bad, but people always wanna tear you down when they feel like you’re doing something good. I’m human too, so things people say at times does hurt, but they have to understand if they was in my shoes how would they feel? I think half of the people (bloggers) wouldn’t even do half of the stuff they do, if they were in the position I am and have to deal with some of the things I do. You feel me!
UrbanBridgez.com: I hear you! Name some artists out right now that you’re a fan of?
Willie Taylor: Wow man alot (laughs). Keri Hilson, R. Kelly, Beyonce,’ Kanye West, Jay-Z, wow it goes on. Jeezy, I mean you name it as far as Hip-Hop & R&B. I’m a really big fan of music! Rock, like the Jonas Brothers, I listen to so much stuff man, cause I’m a songwriter also. So sometime I get into some rock music, just to hear some of their topics, you know. They go way out with theirs (laughs). So you listen to different music for different things, Trey Songz album is amazing! So yeah, it’s just alot of different things I listen to when it comes to music.
UrbanBridgez.com: Outside of music, any plans to spread your wings into other fields?
Willie Taylor: Far as me, I’m just a grindohalic! I think my initial thing was to be a writer/singer/performer! But now I’m spreading my wings and now I’m the CEO of my own company Noivak Music. Which my mixtape is coming out on Noivak. So when you see the videos and commercials and people are like wow this is for a mixtape. The reason I even did so much for it, is because I’m trying to brand my label. I just signed two artists to my label. I think it would of been harder for me to brand my artists and my label at the same time. When it’s a label and artist you don’t know, you’re not that interested in trying to find out. But with people knowing my face and if I can put my face behind the brand & I show you how much good stuff we can put behind this brand. You’ll eventually trust the brand and once the brand is something you’ll except, then you’ll except the artists we got coming out.
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Willie Taylor: Just continue to watch, I got alot of stuff going on. I’m brainstorming alot of things but I want to do all things in fairness man. Alot of fans was wondering if Will was going solo, but that’s not the case at all! And I guess alot of people wondered so hard because it’s never been done before. You never seen an artist come out of a group and go back to the group. People think it’s over when that happens, but for me it’s not. My heart is there, they can offer me whatever I’m not going to leave the guys behind. Because at the end of the day, we came into this together! I don’t wanna go somewhere and not bring my brothers and I would hope the same thing from them, you know! So for me it’s about branding my company and they understand that. Sometimes it could get scary because so much goes on these blogs, but my heart is bigger than anything. Timing will show everybody that yeah he did do what he said he was going to do. I’m just being a man of my word!