Yesterday I shared the first part of my favorite artists interviews that I’ve conducted for UrbanBridgez.com – Today I share my top 5!
Stay Tuned Tomorrow for The UBGteams Top 10!!!
And Friday, Blogs & Celeb Drops Congratulating UrbanBridgez.com
5. Sonja B. Norwood
I picked Sonja Norwood’s 2007 interview for so many reasons, mainly because I’ve known her for years & have had the pleasure of working with her as well, but mainly because Sonja doesn’t really do interviews! So I thought it was great how she did this interview with us and shared so much, we went on to day another interview in 2009, but this one is my favorite!
UrbanBridgez.com: How difficult was the adjustment going from a financial analyst at H&R Block to being an entertainment manager in the business?
Sonja Norwood: I was a District Manager for H&B Block for 11 years. I had no idea that I would be associated with the entertainment business. My goal was to become a Regional Director and only have major stress during tax season. Leaving Block to enter the entertainment business was a major adjustment. I had no idea what the entertainment business was about. I figured business principles and practices were basically the same, boy was I wrong. I knew that there were certain rules that I would not change and I knew that my daughter needed protection so I stepped to the plate and made the best of it. Looking back, if I had known what I know today, I probably would have been terrified and stayed away.
UrbanBridgez.com: Why independent over a major?
Sonja Norwood: At the time, I don’t think we thought independent over major, we thought to support Ray J and his goals. Our goal was to support his dream of being able to produce the type of record he wanted and as the process progressed, independent became an option. I guess we, as a family, have always been willing to take a risk and this was another risk we were willing to take.
Ray J has had a vision of owning his record label -Knockout Entertainment- since he was 13. That vision never left him and when the opportunity came, we decided to support – give it a try and see what happens. I think it has been one of the most daring things we have done with no regrets. Thank God we did it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Ray J has had more success with this album than any of his previous albums and it was released independently on his own. What is your ultimate goal for building Ray J’s name and brand as an entertainer?
Sonja Norwood: Part of Ray J’s personal growth and strength have been the trials and tribulations he has endured – balanced with success. His creativity and willingness to step out and be risky are characteristics I would not change for anything. My “mother” goals for him are to continue to grow as a man, take risk, not be afraid of what people think or say about him, stand for what he believes and continue to seek God and wisdom. It is more important to me for him to know how to make a way out of no way, love God, love mankind and be able to take care of his family under any circumstances. As far as him as an entertainer, he’s very talented, creative and his talent will always make a way for him. Ultimately, he will determine his brand as an entertainer, I will support whatever his choices are and support with all my might.
UrbanBridgez.com: With One Wish and What I Need already released, what other songs do you feel are strong contenders for
singles off of Raydiation?
Sonja Norwood: Given the right season, I think Raydiation has many songs to fit the need of any genre. My personal likes are Anytime, Melody and my most favorite is Centerview. Centerview was a wake up call for me and will remain in my heart forever.
UrbanBridgez.com: A few months ago, there was a Billboard article released about Ray J and it mentioned that Brandy is
releasing music through Knockout though she isn’t officially affiliated with any label yet. So is Brandy officially signed to Knockout as an artist, or is she just an investor? If she isn’t an artist on Knockout, when can we expect for her to announce her new label home?
Sonja Norwood: Brandy is a part of Knockout Ent. Brandy, like Ray, has always taken risk with her music and has set the standard for most female artists following her. Regardless of how she returns, I’m hoping her fans will support and she will be on top of her game. You can expect a record from her soon regardless of label. Remember, we have tested the waters on both sides and we are not afraid of taking risks, so don’t be surprised either way. I think what’s most important to know is, whatever, wherever, it will be hot and it will be for her fans!
UrbanBridgez.com: BRE Magazine recently named you woman of the year for their annually edition. How did you feel to receive such a prestigious honor?
Sonja Norwood: I was very honored to be the first woman to have the cover of BRE as Woman of the Year. It’s a great feeling and I hope it opens doors for other women who are making significant contributions to the entertainment business.
UrbanBridgez.com: What qualities should a good manager possess?
Sonja Norwood: Hm, qualities? What I think and what is, of course, is different. I think all good managers:
1. Should have thorough knowledge of the business.
2. Should be open and honest with their clients.
3. Should focus on their clients rather than opportunities for themselves.
4. Should have goals and visions for their clients in addition to the goals and visions that their clients have for themselves-
5. Always seek opportunities for their clients.
6. Have great relationships and build a solid team.
7. Can adapt to any situation, communication and critical thinking skills.
8. Problem solvers
10. Decisions should be made in the best interest of their clients
11. Can be objective.
12. Maintain integrity no matter what the cost.
13. Keep their clients bank account healthy.
UrbanBridgez.com: What advantages do you feel there are when parents manage their children verses someone outside the
family managing them?
Sonja Norwood: Here’s what I know about me as a parent manager- no one cares more about my children and their well being than me. No one knows my children like me and no one will go the distance for my children like me. So those are the greatest advantages. Aside from those natural parental elements and parental instincts, parent managers must know the business or align themselves with someone trustworthy to learn and surround themselves with a good team.
Outside family managers do not carry a label and usually are given more credibility of being a manager whether they know the business or not. Some people would prefer to work with non family managers. In some cases these manager maybe more objective to decision making and has no personal investment in the artists.
UrbanBridgez.com: Do you feel that you laid the groundwork for a lot of the parent managers out today like Matthew Knowles (Beyonce’ & Solange Knowles) and Tina Douglas (Ashanti)?
Sonja Norwood: I can’t say. I did what I had to do at the moment and I’m sure many other parents felt the same way. I feel that I have taken more hits than most. Jamie Foster Brown, gave me the title – momager in 1995. Dang that’s a long time ago so I guess I laid some groundwork but it really doesn’t matter, what matters is more parents and family members are getting involved in careers of people they truly love and are willing to learn the game.
UrbanBridgez.com: Have there ever been any songs that your children have recorded or things they’ve done image-wise that you didn’t agree with? If so, care to share any?
Sonja Norwood: Yes and we do have heated conversations about it – sometimes there is reasoning among us and sometimes there isn’t. When all is said and done, the decision remains theirs. If it’s the wrong decision, I will have their backs and we will work through it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Name one thing that you would have done differently regarding your childrens careers.
Sonja Norwood: Regardless of how bad they wanted to be in the entertainment business at a young age, I would have waited until they were 18.
UrbanBridgez.com: How does you feel when people refer to you as a stage mom?
Sonja Norwood: I don’t hear that label – stage mom – now as I did when I first started. People are allowed to think and say what they will, it doesn’t affect who I am nor the business I conduct. I also think it’s a label that parents automatically will hold no matter how successful they are as a manager.
UrbanBridgez.com: Is Willie making anymore efforts for another Gospel album?
Sonja Norwood: Willie Norwood Sr. signed to Knockout Gospel and has just completed his new CD called “I Believe”. You can check it out on CDBABY – gospel.
UrbanBridgez.com: How is baby Sy’rai doing.. and does she call you “Mama”?
Sonja Norwood: Sy’rai is the greatest gift given to me in the last 4 years. She is wonderful and thank you for asking. She is my sunshine and my calmness at the end of each day. She calls me Grandma. I didn’t want to be called Grandma but the way she says it, I couldn’t say no. I’m so thankful for her.
UrbanBridgez.com: How do you stay looking so beautiful and so young?
Sonja Norwood: Thanks for the compliment. I don’t know how to answer this question because I don’t see what you see, so I will just move on. :)
UrbanBridgez.com: What are your goals for the rest of this year and next?
Sonja Norwood: Prepare for Brandy’s project, continue to seek opportunities for Bran and Ray, help them build Knockout Entertainment and hopefully prepare for retirement.
UrbanBridgez.com: What are you most proud of in your successful career?
Sonja Norwood: Truthfully? I’m proud to be the mother of two beautiful children and I’m proud God has given me the wisdom to sustain in this business over the years. I’m most proud to have been able to succeed as an independent label against all odd – understand the machine of a major through Brandy and through it all, I still have some sanity. More importantly, I have been able to assist in making the dreams and aspirations of both come to reality. Thank you Jesus!
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve taught me so much in the years we’ve been friends that have made me make some better business
decisions as well as personal, but the one thing you always give me is Bible & personal quotes that I cherish. I save them and keep them whenever I have something major on my mind. I also know from Bran & Ray, you’ve shared some wonderful ones with them. Would you share a few just for this interview that you’ve blessed us with over the years?
Sonja Norwood: My favorite through all times is the book of Romans,
1 Cor 10:13, Isa 54:17, Prov 3:5, Prov 4:5-7, Matt 10:28,
Ps 84:11, Matt 21:22 to name a few.
UrbanBridgez.com: Me and you talk all the time about you writing a book, and you always say you think about it, but you don’t think now is the time or if people will want to read it. And everytime I try to persuade you more to do it, will we ever get that book from you?
Sonja Norwood: I thought about that book many times. I would like to write a book but then I ask myself, who would want to read a book from me? Do I have a lot to say? What would be the purpose? Can I help someone? When those questions are answered, maybe; and maybe I’ll never know those answers until one is written. We’ll see.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s next for Sonja Norwood & Knockout Entertainment?
Sonja Norwood: Knockout Entertainment will hopefully grow into an overall independent entertainment company focusing on music and branching out into movies, TV projects, and other independent entities. Those are my aspirations for KO. Ray will be the one to determine what’s next for KO.
As for me, when I’m completely comfortable with knowing that my two understands this business in every aspect, are prepared and can sustain, I will retire (big smile) – OK semi retire, move back to Mississippi and probably get into politics.
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Sonja Norwood: My heart throws love to the many fans who have been a part of our family. I wish that I could personally thank each of you and show just how much we have appreciated you over the years. My thoughts and prayers for you are to dream and dream big, dreams can come true and they can come true for you – believe, don’t get discouraged and know that God is on your side. When trials and tribulations seem to get in the way, they will strengthen you, learn from them and appreciate the struggle, its only a short journey to success.
4. Tasha Scott
This interview with Tasha Scott is one of my favorites for so many reasons. For one I have always been the biggest Tasha Scott fan every since ‘South Central,’ then I seen her in the stage play of ‘The Wiz’ & I really fell in love with her voice as well. This interview was done for Black Music Month in 2009, I had never met or spoken to Tasha before this interview, but we really hit it off & now she’s a good friend who’s about to set it off in 2011 with new music, y’all ain’t ready!!!
UrbanBridgez.com: How did you get your start in acting?
Tasha Scott: Whew, man I moved to Los Angeles they told me I needed an agent. I didn’t really know what an agent was. Until they were like TV, commercials, selling things. I was like okay, what happened to like “Solid Gold” & “Soul Train” (laughs). They was like that’s how you get on TV, so I was like okay! So I got an agent and that’s how I got my little acting thing started. To me then it was like a hobby, I was like I’m a singer! I’ll do this on the side if y’all say I need to do this.
UrbanBridgez.com: I still have every episode of “South Central” on VHS. I was personally upset when it was canceled. It was a great show and cast. You and Lorenz Tate really had great chemistry as brother and sister. I think the show was before its time. Why do you personally feel the show was canceled?
Tasha Scott: You know what I think, I think “South Central” was just yeah way ahead of its time. We kind of hurt ourselves, because I think we were kinda shy about showing the realness of how we are here in South Central. To me from what I could see when I moved here, I was like wow this is how they live here in South Central? But I said hey, that’s how I lived back in Kentucky (laughs). You know so it’s real, know what I’m saying. So I think we were kind of afraid to show what we were really like. It was all good though, I think it was ahead of its time and I don’t think the Network was really ready for that. Now I think a Network would be ready today.
UrbanBridgez.com: Out of all of your roles, what was your favorite character to play?
Tasha Scott: My favorite role was on “South Central.” It was because I got to be real! I got to be myself and everybody always asks me, were you really acting or was that you? I’m going to honestly and say, that was really me! I grew up with 4 brothers I was the only girl. Everybody always depended on Tasha to do it. Tasha this, Tasha that, but that was okay. The reason me and Lorenz’s chemistry worked so well together, because me Lorenz and all his brothers we all went to School together. So it wasn’t like us really acting, we did that in School and we did that in the neighborhood. So when I went in for the audition and I seen him, we just started laughing. The producers was like what’s going on? So they just let us do our thing and they was like oh my God, look at their chemistry (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: You did an amazing job in The Wiz (touring play) along with Grace Jones, Peabo Bryson, Cece Peniston & Tony Terry. What’s your favorite memory of being on the road with that production?
Tasha Scott: Wow, my favorite memory was just being with everybody! Grace Jones, Peabo Bryson, Cece Peniston, Howard Hewett, it was just absolutely amazing. That was actually my first big stage play. I had never really done theater. I was just like wow this is different from sitcoms, where we can go and cut. With stage, you have to keep going. If you mess up, miss a line, if someone has like a minute of silence (laughs). So I was really, really nervous going into that. We rehearsed in New York for like two weeks and then we went out. I was like wow two weeks of rehearsal, this is a stage play don’t we need like months of rehearsal? But I loved traveling from city to city, all the interviews and press. And just knowing they absolutely loved me. Knowing I actually did something that Diana Ross did, Stephanie Mills and they loved me in this. This wasn’t a sitcom (laughs). It was wonderful, I would love that opportunity again, I really need to do that again and have it run longer.
UrbanBridgez.com: When did you first realize you could sing?
Tasha Scott: Whew! When I was 4. I was in Church of course, you know everybody starts out in Church. I was listening to someone sing and she was hitting these high C’s and I was like wow I wanna do that. So when I would go home, I would sit in the mirror and play Church! (sings “Good’s got a feeling”) You know, hit them notes and stuff and my mom would listen and be like who’s in there hitting them high C’s? My brothers would be that’s just Tasha. So she was like come here girl and let me hear you sing. So she realized I could sing, but I was shy, I was so shy. So I didn’t really break out until I was like 8 years old. I tried out for a talent show and they told me that I couldn’t! And my mom was like oh no, y’all gonna let my baby sing. She said she wants to sing and I’ve been waiting on this (laughs). So that’s when I went like professional with it in Kentucky and I just went from there.
UrbanBridgez.com: What have you been up to since we last saw you on TV?
Tasha Scott: I just been relaxing and enjoying life, enjoying my family. Trying to work on this whole management thing. My kids are always saying they want to follow in my footsteps. So they want me to help them and I had to ask them, are you guys really sure you want to do this? So I decided to help my kids out. Right now my 11 year old, she is about to go on the national tour for The Lion King. We’re going to be gone for about six months. So that’s what I been doing, working with them. I been doing a little recording here and there. Laying low, until I’m just ready to say, let me just jump back out there. I took a little break because the game has kinda changed, you know what I’m saying. I’m what you call a true R&B singer! I don’t really feel that true R&B soulful R&B is out there right now. Right now I’m waiting on my Jennifer Hudson’s and my Fantasia’s to come and really get back out there. Alot of us are saying, is R&B is back, can we come back out now (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Funny you say that, because that is our main focus this year on the site with Black Music Month. Just real R&B from then to now.
Tasha Scott: Absolutely! Don’t get me wrong, I love what’s out there right now. I’m not knocking it, I like to dance, I like to get down and all of that & it’s cool. I feel like this, there is a place for everybody. There is a season for everybody, that’s always good. Change is always good. I look at it like this, the world is round. So what goes around, eventually comes back around. So you gotta step back and let the new things happen. Then the old will come back. I realized, the younger generation is actually loving everything that we’ve done and they look up to us. I can honestly say, I was a new breed coming in. When you had your Michael Jackson,’s and Commodores and Whitney Houston’s and all of them. So I’m sitting here like when it comes back around, they’re going to appreciate it. Like wow that’s Tasha Scott I appreciate her because I looked up to her and dadada. I’m getting that now from alot of different people. Like you made me go after my dreams, and I’m like wow I did. So you know, I’m not knocking the new stuff because it’s poppin and I’m not knocking it at all, you know!
UrbanBridgez.com: How did you hook up with Ray J and the KnockOut crew?
Tasha Scott: Man, I’ve been knowing Ray since he was like a baby. So it was really just all family love. Just sitting around like him saying Tasha Scott do you know who you are? Can’t nobody do what you can do, you’re Tasha Scott! What do you wanna do. I’m like it’s whatever, whenever my season is I’m ready to jump back out there. Ray was like I got you, because you Tasha Scott (laughs)! So I asked him what he was saying and he was like this is “KnockOut” all day! You “KO,” the first lady of “KnockOut,” so I’m like alright cool, I’ll roll with it (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: When can fans finally expect an album from you?
Tasha Scott: Next year 2010, like summer. We working on some things right now. Like I said I’m going to be out on the road, so alot of my stuff is going to have to be sent to me. Then I’m going to have to find a studio, record it, send it back. So all that good stuff. But most likely I’ll just be doing some features between now and then. Like with Ray, Shorty Mack and Truth. I’m trying to get something with B Rocka (Brandy). She’s feeling it, She’s like let’s do it, you Tasha Scott! Ha, I’m like okay girl, let’s just get this stuff done (laughs). I love her though, you gotta love her. You gotta love The Norwoods!
UrbanBridgez.com: No doubt! Have you started or have any idea who you will be working with as far as production and guest appearances on the album?
Tasha Scott: I haven’t really started, started. I just been doing alot of listening, because like I said. I haven’t really heard that sound, that I’m looking for. Right now, it’s too bubble gum for me (laughs). I’m on my grown and sexy thing, so when I hear that, I’m going to be like yeah that’s it. So I’m looking to work with someone like Jamie Foxx, Joe, I’m like bring me those guys. Not oppose to working with Keri Hilson, I’ll do something with Ciara you know. I’ll definitely do something with Beyonce.’ I’m down, it’s all love.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some recording artists and actors you admire?
Tasha Scott: Wow, I definitely look up to Ne-Yo, he’s awesome. Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Brandy has mad skills on all her backgrounds, she is amazing! Like actors and actresses. I gotta go old school. Like Denzel Washington, it’s alot because so many are good. Like Halle Berry, come on she’s great! I even appreciate the actors who are singers/rappers. They’re really good, who would of known LL could do rap and act as well as he does? You know what’s so great about me. I love the fact that I was actually introduced to acting and I was able to do acting, singing and dancing together. So it’s not like anybody can say well she’s not a great actor, but she can sing, or she’s trying to do this or whatever, you know. You’ve seen me do it all because I was able to incorporate it all. And I like that, it was the road I took and people were able to see me in that light.
UrbanBridgez.com: What would be your dream role?
Tasha Scott: Whew, I got two! My first is I wanna do an action packed movie. Like in a speeding car, blowing up.. stunt double jumps out (laughs). Something like Miss Rambo, tats on my face and arms and stuff. This is funny, this is what I do. I do the Wonder Woman pose, I stand with my baby in the mirror and say do I have the body for it (laughs)? Heck yeah I do (laughs). Then of course, I wanna do a romantic love scene. They can incorporate them both in one movie, yeah (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Tasha Scott: Keep your head up! Follow, follow, follow your dreams. Don’t ever let anybody tell you, you can’t do it. First you have to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re about. I always say if you believe you can be the greatest janitor do that, if you believe you can be the greatest astronaut, do that. It can be singing, dancing, acting, cooking a prime peace of rib, or whatever. If you believe in yourself, the only person that is going to make it manifest is you. Through Christ, so go for your dreams and don’t ever let anybody tell you, you can’t do it!
3. Jody Watley
Jody Watley has been a favorite of mine since ‘Looking For A New Love,’ her ‘Larger Than Life’ album is still one of my all-time favorite albums! In June of 2009, I was given the chance to finally interview her and I have to say, it was the best interview ever! Jody was so welcoming and so sweet, it was like talking to an old friend about my favorite subject, music! Since then Jody has been a huge supporter of UB and has continued to show us much love!
UrbanBridgez.com: First off tell me about Avitone’s new deal?
Jody Watley: Well Avitone is my label, I started it in 1995. As it would turn out with the shifting paradons of the music industry. Now more then ever, it’s very okara for artists to be doing their own labels. But I started it in 95′, I was inspired by Prince actually. When he left Warner, he started NPG. Actually our very first release, I went to the same distributor as Prince, Belmark. So I been doing this for awhile. The entrepreneur side, through the years leading up to the deal with ADA. We licensed my music, all of my music to different company’s around the world. For instance in 2003, when I released “Midnight Lounge” it was licensed to Shanachie. Licensed means, I still own all of my masters. So with ADA and that distribution, it’s just really huge. Because it’s very difficult to get distribution deals. I don’t know how many women (laughs) who are doing that. It wasn’t quit as exciting as winning the Grammy, but it was close on a different level. Because it’s a huge business accomplishment, I just look forward to continuing to grow the label. So we’re really excited about that. Some people thought, oh she’s signed to Avitone and they got distribution. I’m like no Avitone is my label and we got global distribution! I read about Jay Z taking his company to Sony. And P. Diddy, or Diddy, or Puffy (laughs), Sean Combs taking his to Warner. It’s the same thing, but there aren’t that many women making those types of moves. That will be the next big significant chapter, besides me being an artist. Again the aspect of ownership and entrepreneurship is very important to me.
UrbanBridgez.com: Do you plan to sign some other talent to the label this year?
Jody Watley: Not this year, but we are. I’ve considered myself the guinea pig in all of it and again slowly developing the brand of Avitone. My last three singles have been top 5, one was #1 on the dance chart and in England. It gives me the opportunity to establish what Avitone is about, quality music. So over the course of a few years I don’t wanna sign alot of acts. I would like to be pacific about who or what the type of group or artist would be. I know someone self contained, someone that also has alot of individuality, not a cookie cutter artist, someone like.. me (laughs). Maybe it will be a male artist, maybe a small band. There aren’t alot of bands. I really like J*Davey, because they are very unique. Do you know of J*Davey?
UrbanBridgez.com: No, never heard of them.
Jody Watley: I’ll have to send you a link. It’s kinda eclectic, kind of reminds me of vintage Prince, it’s vintage, R&B, it’s different. I like stuff like that. So yeah once we further establish Avitone through me. We will be looking to do that.
UrbanBridgez.com: Your releasing an international version of “The Makeover,” tell me about that?
Jody Watley: We revised it, the artwork is different. There are some different songs on it. For instance, “Love Hangover” on the domestic version was down-tempo, the version on the new one is more of a classic, uptempo interpretation of it. I recorded “A Little Respect” it was a real popular song out of an anthem. I redid that and made it over. Even those who bought the domestic, they’ll want to get the international version. Even though I loved what we did with “The Makeover,” I think I’ve improved on it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Let’s talk about the new album you’re releasing next year, “Chameleon.” What can Jody Watley fans expect from that release?
Jody Watley: “Chameleon” which will be out in 2010, is my 10th studio album. All new songs, it’s great! It’s actually finished, but because of the development with ADA we changed our strategy up a bit. But it’s all of the things I am. We have a little bit of everything on it. From the club element, to more ambient, very thoughtful lyrics. It’s just quality music. I read something Maxwell said. It’s no hype beats, no duets, he went through a list of things and said it’s just good music. I was like yeah (laughs), I like that!
UrbanBridgez.com: “Candlelight” is already doing great on the Billboard dance charts, how does it make you feel to still be relevant after having such an incredible career already?
Jody Watley: It’s actually great! Sometimes veteran artist fall into a trap of, either playing it so safe, it comes off generic & uninteresting. They’re trying to cater to a younger demographic in a way a younger demographic isn’t going to necessarily gravitate to. For instance and no disrespect to anybody, Akon or anybody. But I notice alot of veteran acts, because he’s hot is like “lets get Akon on the track.” It’s not really original, it just means you’re trying to cater to a crowd. Or either the quality is gone. I think with me, the unique thing about it, is every step of the way I think I’ve gotten better with each record I’ve done. It’s always authentic Jody Watley. I’ve never tried to do like “Don’t You Want Me” like recreate what that song sounded like or “Looking For A new Love.” I’ve moved on from the sounds, it’s a natural growth, like even the electronic and dance stuff I do. It still has soul and dept to it. It’s not like like oh she’s just trying to do that, ya know. It’s a progression and it’s adult without being old. I also have a pet peeve about as you get older, everything has to sound like classic R&B. Why can’t it still be progressive and a little experimental? That’s what I do and try to experiment and my shows are always a mixture of ethnicity’s and ages. Like the 80s babies now in their mid 20’s are there. The club kids who don’t know much about my earlier solo career, they just like the groovy stuff I been doing in the past few years. I have some of the old school era, of the Shalamar days. They come out, it’s good. It’s very rare that you’re able to do that as an artist. Best of all on your own terms. I haven’t had to become something I’m not.
UrbanBridgez.com: Shalamar made such an impact in R&B music history in my opinion, what is your best memory of being apart of that group and recording some of the hits you all recorded together?
Jody Watley: Good question (laughs). I don’t actually have a favorite memory. What stands out is the first time I went over seas and the first trip was to Australia. I remember being in awe of being out the USA. Shalamar was, when I look back at it. It was work, work, work. I don’t look at it as a fun era (laughs). We were work horses for that company. The more I’m talking, I liked the tour packages we did. Back then, they had packages like us and The Gap Band, Rick James, Mary Jane Girls, or it was us Lakeside, Whispers, Evelyn Champagne King and Atlantic Starr. That’s something I actually really cherish. The main thing is it was all live! Everybody was dancing and singing, nobody was lip syncing (laughs). You had to really bring it, because the act before you would bring it and the act after you. So you had to make your mark. Funny thing was, well what was valuable for me as a solo performer. For instance, say that the act before you.. I remember Lakeside who did “Fantastic Voyage” which was really huge. Such a great band who was together forever. We came on before them and if we did a chant that got the crowd fired up or if we had fans light a match when we did a slow song, that was a big thing back then (laughs). So if we did it and they thought it was hot, they would take it the next night and we couldn’t do it. What it did was make you creative and spontaneous to work the crowd. That sort of thing doesn’t really exist anymore.
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve finally decided to speak on your departure from the group in the upcoming episode of Unsung on TV One. What else can fans expect to learn from watching that episode about your time in the group, without giving too much away.
Jody Watley: Well I’m not sure what they’re gonna keep, so I don’t know (laughs). I tried to be as candent as I could in the time constraints I had. My part of the story was from the girls perspective. In an environment that was incredibly chauvinistic, from the head of Solar (label) Dick Griffey to all of the guys that would be in the group. Always trying to hold my own, as a teenager starting out, growing into a young girl. I talk about the challenges of that. Like a lot of people are like that video “A Night To Remember,” I loved that. For me, I hated that video! I didn’t like the end. I remember crying, because I didn’t want to be bouncing on the bed with two guys. That was lame, it sends the wrong message but I had to do it anyway. Eventually which I talk about on Unsung, Once you decide for yourself, how you see things being rolled out or people are trying to make you feel like you’re not valuable to a situation. In my case, not so valuable to the group, when I knew I was. But just not buying into that, I talk about owning who you are and not letting people rob your spirit. Or make you feel you’re not equal to the next guy, even if you’re a woman. Just not to fall into that. In the end it was very uplifting. When I quit the group, it wasn’t to go solo, it was to have a peace of mind ultimately. The beautiful thing is when I left the group I decided I was still going to pursue my dream. I always wanted to be a singer since I was 4. I’ve never looked back and I encourage everybody to never give up and always believe in yourself. You, me and the people that will read the blogs, everybody can relate to that. Whether you’re in school and people say you’re not all that (laughs). If you’re smart & a book warm and them calling you teachers pet. I went through all those things in school and being chased home from school (laughs). Because people have their own thing but really fighting through it and never giving up. Ultimately learning from everything that happens to you in life. Even in the most negative situations you should be able to take something positive from it and move forward. Jody Watley is always going to be about that. Fearlessness, growth, and really just spreading that. My voice in the show is really talking about that aspect of it. I commend TV One for doing something with their programming. I know alot of people are very disappointed in BET’s programming, it’s liked a missed opportunity. That was another reason I sat down for the interview, once I saw the quality and how they try to do it.
UrbanBridgez.com: I love Unsung! (laughs)
Jody Watley: Yeah me too, alot of people say well they’re all sad (laughs). I’m like well my portion of the show isn’t sad, there was no tragedy that came from Shalamar, it just wasn’t built to last. So I’m interested to see it. For instance I’d like to see how Gerald Brown who was the second lead singer, the voice of “Take That To The Bank.” Once he was taken out of the group, I never heard from him again. So I wonder if they interviewed him, I would like to know how he is? He was an alright guy, I mean he had his ego things also, but it was cool. As a fan of the show, I’m curious to see what will make the cut from what I said and will Gerald and some other people be interviewed.
UrbanBridgez.com: “Larger Than Life” isn’t only my favorite album from you, but it’s one of my all time favorite R&B CD’s.
Jody Watley: Thank You!
UrbanBridgez.com: Did you have any idea what you were creating when you were in the studio recording it?
ody Watley: Not really, we were just trying to take it up a notch. Stylistically, from the total change in my look from the big hair, to something very sleek and fashion forward. I always had battles with MCA, they were always brave in letting me do what I wanted to do. I said from the moment I was signed, I took this away from Shalamar. I didn’t want anybody telling me what songs I should sing, what I should be. I’m like I’m a songwriter, I wanna write on my material, I wanna pick my producers, I don’t wanna be just put with someone. Early on I don’t think people really knew that was really Jody Watley! “Real Love” is still my favorite video of all my videos. Everytime I see it I just have to laugh and say girl you better work (laughs)! I love it. My thing is just always try to do something I can be proud of. I always say the artist is the one stuck with whatever you’re doing. So hopefully make good choices and when you have the opportunity to look back at your body of work. You can say I was putting it down until the wheels fell off, until I was too old to do it. That’s how I feel about everything I do, the new music, everything! I feel very blessed and fortunate that I am able to do something I love and can share with people. I have such a great respect for music, because I know what it meant to me as a kid. So when people look at me, I’m that person like how I looked up to people when I grew up.
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve always been such a fashion icon, was that something you ever sought out to do?
Jody Watley: It’s just apart of who I am. I’ve always styled my own stuff, still do. That was always a battle, but I would always win over the directors of my videos. Not really an issue now because of my history and everything. At first they would be like, what do you mean you’re bringing your own stuff? It’s like I am trust me (laughs). I actually have a great collection of Polaroids, because everything I would do I would show them. I would have my Polaroid camera and take like a tester at home with clothes and like the hair. With the second album when I did “Larger Than Life,” I’m a huge fan of Italian Vogue and from the layout and that I knew I wanted Steven Meisel to do the album cover. All of the photographers I tend to work with and still do are mostly fashion photographers. I always say people who do music artist kind of have a limitation to how they shoot in light and things. So I would go in the label tear sheets of what the vibe I was gonna go for. The blessing is I get to hand pick people I work with, instead of being told who I was. My first style influence was my mom because she was a big fashion diva, we always had fashion magazines in the house. I was all into it (laughs). Another thing like now when I look at some of the artists in the mainstream, you can tell the stylish version and who is really wearing it and it’s really cool. I like Rhianna’s style, it really suits her, it’s not like the clothes are wearing her. I see some girls lately who are trying to take that fashion forward thing and it’s just wrong. You can tell it’s not really them. That’s an it factor you can’t teach or buy. You either have it or you don’t!
UrbanBridgez.com: Off the top of your head, what are the top 3 favorite songs you have recorded in your career?
Jody Watley: Currently “Everlasting” and that’s on “Chameleon.” It’s a feel good song and has a good vibe. The title makes you think it’s a love song, but it’s not. “A Beautiful Life” from “The Makeover.” And a classic song of mine.. there is just something always really fun about “Don’t You Want Me.” All my songs are hard, I’ve written most of them, so I feel bad for picking one out (laughs). It’s like I love you all, I really, really do (laughs). They all say something, like on my record “Intimacy” and I was going through my divorce “Working On A Groove,” I love and “Are You The One” and “When A Man Loves A Woman” (laughs). I mean all my songs, it’s too hard to pick them apart like that (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: How are your children and do they have any interest in following Moms lead into the entertainment industry?
Jody Watley: They’re great! Well my daughter is going back to college, she already went for social anthropology and media studies. She’s into digital media, she has a really good eye. Editing, film and really high tech visuals. She’s musical, but no interest or never really had any to do music. And my son is all Basketball. He likes music too, but he’s like most boys his age. He’s talking about going to the NBA (laughs), so you know.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some current artist Jody Watley is a fan of?
Jody Watley: I like Rhianna’s style. Her songs are just contemporary fun type music. I like that and in fact there is bits of myself I see in her and also Beyonce’. I like J*Davey, Kanye West, even though he can be out there with his comments. I like how he just doesn’t care (laughs). And he experiments with his music, you know like when you make a musical shift? I’ve made a career out of that. Sometimes people don’t get it. Say for instance if you sell less records, they get scared and run back to what they think people want. I like Kanye, because he’s like I’m into and don’t care, you get it or you don’t and 20 years you’ll look back and say it was a classic! (laughs), I like that!
UrbanBridgez.com: What are three essential albums you think everybody should have?
Jody Watley: That’s just hard (laughs). I always say on an iPod you can put as many songs as you want, just stock it up with Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Any artists will say you can’t go wrong with either one. Put some Michael Jackson in there, forget about the controversy and other stuff. “Off The Wall,” “Thriller,” not to mention the Jackson 5 stuff. Actually all three, started in one way and as their music developed they continued to evolve. Michael kind of got stuck after the huge success of “Thriller.” I think he just got scared and he’s still trying to get that formula. Stevie Wonder has so many, one of the most thoughtful prolific songwriters and great vocalist. Marvin Gaye also. Sade, you can’t go wrong. I like everybody else, is looking forward to her long awaited album. Grace Jones is always on my list, she has a great new record “Hurricane” it didn’t come out in the US, but it has in Europe. But yeah again to say essential it would be hard. But I guess if there were three artists it would be.. (laughs). Then I would have to take one of my own.
UrbanBridgez.com: It’s alright (laughs), you tried!
Jody Watley: (laughs) Just stock your iPod with 20,000 songs (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Jody Watley: Tweet me (laughs), follow me on Twitter. My website www.jodywatley.net. “Chameleon” coming in 2010. Check out for the new single on iTunes and all digital outlets. I have concerts coming up this summer. DC, Chicago, New York and Philly. I look forward to seeing everybody and we’ll be adding more shows. I say stay fearless and never let anyone take away from you, who you really are! Like own it, celebrate it, whatever your thing is..own it!
Updated to add: When ‘The Makeover’ came out (actually prior) one of the photo’s from ‘The Makeover’ made it’s way around the web. It was when I first discovered concreteloop and theybf websites. They clowned me good – and blew up that Jody Watley had had a facelift – it was NOT true.
The photo was was obviously a fake. If seen in the context of the artwork for ‘The Makeover’ where it is and if one read the liner notes, they would have known it was a joke – we used a professional special effects makeup artist. For a time, I even had the slide show on my MySpace page of the process.
My intent was to make light of the lengths that people go through in pursuit of beauty and prolonged youth… a tongue and cheek play on the concept of ‘The Makeover’ – beyond the fact that a lot of the songs were covers on the record.
I have never had plastic surgery on my face – EVER. I have not even tried Botox – for the record. My mother is 76 and looks a youthful 50. My daughter is 26 and she looks 15! It runs in our family. Good genes and taking care of myself (inner and outer).
We wrote to both sites so that I could at least address the rumors and set things straight but they never replied. Of course, it was more sensationalistic with that type of thing – or if I went to jail or had a drug problem.
We also continue to include them on our eblasts for music news and updates – including the ADA distribution deal – which is something more young people need to know to reach for beyond being an artist. Of course, they have never run anything else about me. Which of course was a disappointment.
So – I wanted to set that straight for your blog. I did NOT have a face lift (lol) – I’m just a very fly and naturally young looking 50 year old woman! 50 – not 100. In this day and age with people living longer, it’s not old and if you take care of yourself really age is just a number – no surgery or botox required. I intend to continue to age gracefully – and not turn into a plastic former vision of myself!!
Anybody that really knows me knows my favorite singer in the world is Shanice! She’s been my favorite singer since I seen her debut video ‘Baby Tell Me (Can You Dance)’ in 1987. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Shanice back in 1999 for my fansite ‘Shanice World!’ Since then we’ve stayed in contact & she’s become a good friend of mine and she’s always been a huge supporter of UrbanBridgez.com – In 2006 I interviewed her for her first release in 7 years ‘Every Woman Dreams,’ talking with her is always a pleasure & this particular interview was alot of fun!
UrbanBridgez.com: How does it feel to be considered one of the women who set the standard for real female singers in R&B?
Shanice: Wow! I don’t know. It’s such an honor for you to even say that (laughs). I never thought about it. It’s funny because last week I was in New York doing some promotion. I did an interview with a station, I forget which one. The guy said how does it feel to be one of the first teen R&B singers out (laughs). I had never thought about it, but it really was just like me, Tracie Spencer, Janet and like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. It feels really good still be here and doing what I love to do. It’s also great to see so many women doing well as a whole in this industry (Beyonce, Mariah, Ashanti, Ciara, Mary J. Blige, etc.), it’s finally happening. This industry is hard.
UrbanBridgez.com: Did you and Rahsaan Patterson work together on any new music, because you two are great live together?
Shanice: Yeah, we actually co-wrote two songs on my new album. “Chocolate” is one of them, it’s about my husband (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Do you plan to do anymore shows like the Women of Soul Tour?
Shanice: Yeah I would love to. We’re putting together a promo tour now. I’ve been gone for like six years so I have to get out to radio and things of that nature. After that we’re going to put together a show, I don’t know who I’ll be touring with yet, it’s still early.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s your favorite song off the new album?
Shanice: My favorite? Well I love the title track, just what it’s saying to women. I want women to feel good about their self. And get ahead in life and to get out of bad situations and know that something better will come. My other favorite is a song called “So Sexy” that’s a song about my husband. We actually wrote it together. Flex co-wrote on “Take Care of You” and “Things In The Movies.”
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell fans about your song “Chocolate” (laughs) – “Chocolate you’re my chocolate. Caramel cream filled hundred percent real chocolate you’re my chocolate. Coco butter honey lover. You’re like no other you’re my chocolate you’re my chocolate. Like hot fudge you’re too much I can’t get enough of you’re chocolate, you’re chocolate. You are my favorite candy”.
Shanice: “Chocolate” is a song about my husband (laughs). I’m always saying how he is so fine and so chocolaty (laughs, is that a real word? Answer: Yes). In the beginning of the song, I’m saying how much I use to love Hershey’s chocolate when I was younger. Now Flex has turned into my favorite chocolate (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: How has your relationship with you and Janet grown throughout the years? I know when I came to see you in Atlanta, while you were out with *NSync, Janet was flying out the next night to see your show. While I was backstage with you I remember how the people at the venue was bugging out because they were worried where to seat her (laughs)?
Shanice: Oh yeah when she was going to come see my show. My relationship with Janet is, we’re very close. I met her at age 11 and she has always been there throughout my career. She has given me some good advice. I don’t know, we’re just really close. I just talked to her not too long ago. I also went to her birthday party, Jermaine had a surprise birthday party for her and it was great. I have to also say, she looks so happy now and JD just makes her feel so good and it’s so good to see her that happy.
UrbanBridgez.com: If offered, would you take the opportunity to be her opening act?
Shanice: Oh yeah, I would love to. I would also love to open for Prince (laughs). I’ve been such a huge Prince fans since I was 10. I’m actually trying to get Prince on the remix to “Every Woman Dreams.”
UrbanBridgez.com: How have you managed to stay in the industry so long despite all the current trends?
Shanice: Prayer. A lot of prayer, just trying to always do my best and make good music. Something I’ve talked to you about before, this industry is so fickle, so it’s hard to maintain and stay true to self. This CD is being released independently on me and Flex’s label with a joint venture with Richard Nash’s label. It was important for me to do what I wanted this time around. With major labels they want to tell you how to sing and what to sing, how to look, just the whole nine. So this is the first time it was all me. I didn’t have an A&R, so I was my own A&R (laughs). I co-wrote, I picked who did my hair, my makeup, clothes, just everything. I’m just being myself and people will be able to see that.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of the new acts that you’re feeling right now? I have to say I talked to Ciara some months back. I told her how much she reminds me of you when you came out with “Baby Tell Me (Can You Dance)” and “No 1/2 Steppin” in the videos and the music. She was so honored and showed you so much love.
Shanice: I am such a huge Ciara fan. It was so good to finally meet her, I met her at Janet’s party and she was so nice and sweet to me. I was excited to meet her. She can dance and her CD is dope. Her videos are hot, I just love her. Also, I got to say Beyonce’ of course. Alicia Keys, I became a fan of hers after seeing her in concert. Aries she was like playing the piano while laying down and backwards (laughs). I was like wow, she sold me because she is very talented. Usher is doing his thing and I’m happy to see that. Mariah, I mean you have to always give Mariah her props.
UrbanBridgez.com: What are your memories of the late great Luther Vandross and your favorite song from him?
Shanice: Wow gosh, let me see. “A House is Not A Home.” My memories, let’s see. I’ve known Luther since I was 8, basically all my life. The last time I saw him, he was on his last tour and he came to L.A. Flex surprised me and took me to the show, I didn’t know where we were going till we got there. When we were backstage, Luther said to Flex, I can’t believe you married little Shanice (laughs), he still thought of me as a little girl. It was so cute. So now everytime I think of him, I think of him saying that to Flex (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s next for Shanice?
Shanice: Well after this album, I want to develop some more artists with our label and keep it going. I also want to do some more acting, I’ve done some TV shows and Broadway, now I want to do some film.
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Shanice: Tell them, since I’ve been gone so long. I appreciate them for still being here. They’ve been hanging in there and I really appreciate that. I get online and look at the sites and love reading what they’re saying and getting all of the positive feedback from them. It feels so good.
Now this interview is my favorite UrbanBridgez.com interview, not because of all the drama it started after it was posted between RL and Jagged Edge, 112 and Destiny’s Child. It’s my favorite interview because this is one of the first times an artist has keep it 100% real during an interview. Not giving the standard ‘political’ answers, but really speaking from his heart and how he was feeling at the time (everybody is cool with each other now). I’ve known RL for a long time and he’s always been that way, so for him to bring that to life in this interview, makes it my favorite interview of the past 5 years that I’ve done!
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s RL and NEXT been up to the last four years?
RL: Well actually we had to get out of the J deal and now we’re solidifying a new deal. So we’re working on that deal now and the album. T-Low is in ATL, he just moved here, he’s working. My album is done. We got a company here in ATL were managed by called WE Entertainment. Kevin Wales who discovered Jagged Edge, 112, Lil Zane, hell even ABC, that’s how far his career goes back is my manager. We’re doing it all from artist management, sports management, record label, the whole nine. My company is called The Union, it stands for u niggaz is over now (laughs). We got a 300,000 square foot building with a studio in it also. Ma$e records there and some other artists, he’s also on my first single. Tweet got frustrated and made a diss record about me and T-Low that hit the internet. He’s mad at us, but we would never replace him while finishing the new NEXT album. Not to diss Destiny’s Child, but we never wanted to go that route and replace members who were there in the beginning. No matter if they played a huge or a small part. So we’re not going to do the NEXT record without Tweet. Again, my album is done I was in L.A. last week and met with some labels like Capitol. I’m still young, I’m 28, I’ll be 29 next month, but people think I’m older when I tell them because how long we’ve been doing this. I also got the third single coming from Jamie Foxx’s CD.
UrbanBridgez.com: What happened with J Records and the release of Next Episode?
RL: The people at the label. So many things went wrong and so many things wasn’t right. For that album, first we didn’t want “Imagine That” as the first single, it was a nice song, but we didn’t want that one to lead the album. I can’t stand behind that project. It’s like when an artist records an album, they may record like 40 songs and submit them to the label. Then the label gets to pick which songs out of those 40 make the album. A lot of records came out that we didn’t love. Even with my solo project with J. I did love “Good Man” and had a chance to co-direct the video & come up with the treatment. But with J Records they could only work one project at a time and they picked Mario’s album over mine to promote. If you look back when they released our last album, NEXT, Deborah Cox, Tyrese and Busta Rhymes were all released at the same time. NEXT suffered a lot. When Clive started J and left Arista, we were given a choice to stay at Arista or to come with Clive. We were very loyal to Clive so we came with him. But we didn’t know that once we did, L.A., my bad I mean people at Arista was going to be calling radio stations asking them to play Usher “Pop Your Collar” instead of NEXT. People don’t understand without promotion or marketing you’re album isn’t going to sell. I would rather tour than anything else. However unless your album is selling and your singles are charting high, you’re not going to be able to tour. People also think you make money just from that and luckily for me I write, so my money comes in from publishing. I mean to be honest if it wasn’t for my publishing, I would be in Minnesota robbing people like I was before. I mean I love Clive, he’s like a second dad, I actually just talked to him the other day. With J, we were already established before we came there, they wanted to break new artists. I got 450,000 from J for my pocket when I started recording my solo album, they gave NEXT 150,000 for our pockets when we started recording the last album. I just donated my half. Staying on that, man I went into a record store and just happened to see the album on the shelve I didn’t even know when it was being released. And on top of that, out of all the pictures we took at the album photo shoot, the one we told them not to use, was the album cover. The first 250,000 copies shipped out, all said featuring Jaheim on them and he wasn’t even on the album. So in the end they dropped us, saying we wasn’t happy with them. Then turned around and offered me 350,000 to do another solo album. With me it’s not about the deal, but about the visual control. So I turned them down. People in Minnesota always come to me and ask me what have I did for Minnesota and why haven’t I put anybody on? But if you think about it nobody besides me talked about Minnesota on TV, but not no more. ATL is my home now, kats here show me mad love. I grind and it’s about hunger. I mean I will sing at a funeral, I use to work for McDonalds, I use to sneak to Flyte Time at night to record. Back to J, I mean look at Fantasia, there is no reason why her album should of dropped before she even had a video out. Most artists get two singles before their album drops and she didn’t even have a video. Kats ain’t doing what they need to be at these labels. Why did Clay Akins sell more than Fantasia and Ruben. Matter of fact, where is Ruben? A lot of labels are downsizing. The thing most artists need to ask is how are they going to be promoted?
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell me about “Hater N U” and why you decided to record that song?
RL: Well first off, it’s not really a diss to Destiny’s Child. I love them. But I’m going to give you the real deal. With our first album we sold over 2 million copies, Destiny’s Child went Gold with their first. We did a record with them for their second album, didn’t charge them, we just wanted them on our next album. They agreed, so we was like cool. Kelly was a really good friend of mines, I mean if you look at her thank yous for their “Writings” CD she calls me her big brother. So Kelly told me that because Mathew was pushing Beyonce’ to the front, she wanted her vocals to shine on the duet. So I told Mathew that I wanted Kelly to sing the lead on the duet and he said no! So we never recorded the song. And of course after that, they blew up and the rest is history. So in “Hater N U” it’s like you jacked us, so we’re jacking your beat. As for Jagged Edge and 112, to be honest the version that was put on MySpace page wasn’t suppose to be. But I listen to the radio and I’ve always loved 112. But over the years it’s like they switched lanes and started recording more sexual songs, like NEXT has done. When I hear those records from them, I’m like no! They are still one the most talented groups. Today most artists don’t create a sound that’s going to be remembered. I’m changing my sound constantly, I’m a lover so that’s what I write about. NEXT has always been freaky. Labels are selling out the artists to fit a certain sound. I mean why does 112 sound like NEXT, why does Jagged Edge sound like 112, I mean it’s crazy. NEXT never jacked anybody. It’s like a basketball game, two players playing against each other, everybody wants to win with what skills they got. I mean I’ve always been a fan of JE. We almost sold ourselves out, but we never did. I mean my publisher was saying to me the other day, that there is this kat that has some good music, he’s a cross between Justin Timberlake and Usher. It’s like why does he have to sound like anybody, why can’t he just be original? That’s the thing I do love about coming from Minnesota, I mean we had to work twice as hard to get in the industry. We didn’t have a music scene at all. I mean we had Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but they haven’t did a lot for Minnesota at all. I mean they signed SOLO a group out of New York over signing us and signed Lo-Key the group that discovered us. And the only people from Minnesota they ever signed was The Sounds of Blackness and of course Mint Condition. They made me be a business man. I don’t diss people on record, I mean I don’t need to do that to sell records. I mean but I will say some things about Jaheim. I mean I have given that man the two biggest hits of his career and he doesn’t come to me to work on his albums now? That makes no sense to me. I use to think this business was about loyalty. I mean I gave Kay Gee 100,000 when I did my solo album and he didn’t even work on it. But he brought me on. With me it is about loyalty. “Anything” was actually for my album, but I gave it to Jaheim. I mean we all use to hang out, I liked him, so I decided to give him that song. I mean it hurt me, I mean I had love for Ja. I helped put him on, but not put on, but gave him the two biggest hits of his career still to this day (“Just In Case” & “Anything”) and I haven’t heard from that kat. There really isn’t no loyalty in this game. I’m still loyal to Destiny’s Child, Jagged Edge and 112. Some artists will always sell albums because people know even if its a few cuts on the album worth listening to, because of the artist track record they will buy it.
UrbanBridgez.com: There has always been a rumor that an RL & Monica song is out there, any truth to that rumor and if so will the fans ever hear it?
RL: Actually NEXT did, we recorded a song with her years ago, but were replaced at the last minute with 112. I guess 112 had a more crossover appeal. It was “Right Here Waiting” a Richard Marx classic. But we wasn’t trippin because we still got our check (laughs). Still not sure what really happened with that. As for a track with her and me, there might be one. I did a few tracks where they could of added her vocals from what I was told, but nothing that we actually recorded together besides that one song.
UrbanBridgez.com: I know Brandy is one of your favs, we’ve talked about that in the past, would you work with her if given the opportunity?
RL: Man it really depends. If I could get her into the studio and get her to sing about what really hurts her the most, I would be down. I just got done recording with this artist out of Miami, I can’t say who it is yet. But I did the hooks, but I can’t write for an artists unless I really know them and know what they are about as a person. With Jamie Foxx, that was easy, I know Jamie. He was in one of my videos before, we’ve hung out many times, he’s invited me to parties, etc. So I know he’s a freak (laughs). If you notice in the beginning of the song he shouts out Minneapolis. But that’s the last time. I remember reading a lot of old articles that was written from a lot of the local papers, I never had a chance to read them back when they were written because we were always touring and working. But a lot of them were just dissing us for no reason. I mean who else from Minnesota was shouting out Minnesota on the American Music Awards, Soul Train Awards, etc. besides me?
UrbanBridgez.com: Do you think NEXT gets the props they deserve? I may be a little bias because you guys are from my hood and I’ve known you for years. But I have to say you guys really set it off with “Butta Love” and “Too Close” and the success led a new breed of R&B male groups, but NEXT never seems to get that credit.
RL: What many don’t know is we have the biggest hit from Minnesota in history. Bigger than “Purple Rain” with “Too Close.” With that whole thing about getting the credit we deserve, it’s like I agree but I can’t cry over spilled milk. I mean I still get a check for “Too Close” every month because I wrote it. I mean besides Montell Jordan, niggas wasn’t really buying albums from male artists for up-tempos. They wanted fuck tracks, so they was getting albums with the ballads and so forth for their girls. That song was very creative, it was about a niggas Penis getting hard on the dance floor. That song wasn’t suppose to get played on radio, we got over. But once people really paid attention to what we were saying in the song, it was too late because it was a hit! I’m ready to do that again, like with my new single, it features Ma$e on the hook. I have him on the hook because when I start promoting the single and performing it live, if he’s not there with me it makes no sense to perform it. I don’t understand why artists do that, so I got him on the hook, so I can perform it anywhere without him.
UrbanBridgez.com: What do you think of the current R&B male groups out right now?
RL: This industry is crazy. Artists are not getting promoted like they should. I mean look at Jagged Edge, they’ve released two singles and still no album. The album should of been out by now. The game is really messed up right now. it’s like you have to get someone like Lil Jon on a record for it to be a hit. I mean I have Lil Jon on my album, but it’s not a club or up-tempo it’s really a mellow jam. It’s like these days you Chris Brown has a hit, so labels are trying to follow that blueprint, but Chris Brown is Chris Brown he’s talented. It’s like if you look at the industry, niggas only get one shot. White artists can flop and regain them selves because they’re given another chance. Look at Chingy, he did great with his first album, his last one did poor, we most likely won’t hear from him anymore. With NEXT our second album was creative, production wise and vocally from our debut. With our third, again that album was so rushed, it wasn’t what we wanted. You can’t rush artistry. I mean so to answer your question, I’m trying to think who’s even out right now and hot? Pretty Ricky? Are you serious? I like great music, people want nice records. I’ve wrote some hits that will always be recognized as such. It’s like every summer, an artists will release a record that’s hot and will sell off of that, tour off of that and then that’s the end of that project. Artists really aren’t making great music anymore. I mean I want to be like the Whispers and O’Jays, who have hit records, where they can still tour off of till this day and everybody knows the songs. Like with “Too Close” we can perform that anywhere and people know the song. I want more of that. Me & T-Low performed Over Seas recently and everybody knew the words. Not many groups are doing that. I know Usher has a group coming out (One Chance), maybe they might be the ones. That was the advantage of coming from Minnesota, we had an advantage because we never had to change what we was. People have all these misconceptions about me, like I’m conceited, I’m rude, etc. Because I’m quiet, that comes from when I was growing up, I never had any real friends. People don’t know that I go to Schools and talk to kids, I give toys and things away to charities every Christmas, the media doesn’t know that because they don’t need to. It’s me and what I love doing to give back. But so many people have this misconception of me. It’s like people say I saw RL and he didn’t speak, well it’s like damn nigga do I know you? Or if someone says hi and I give a head nod or whatever, it’s like he’s so conceited, but that’s just not the case. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just being me.
UrbanBridgez.com: If you could work with anybody you haven’t yet, who would it be?
RL: Man that’s a hard question, who would you say? Matter of fact I know who. I would love to work with Prince. I wouldn’t change him or his sound from what he use to be, the original freak of Minnesota. I think right now he needs to embrace that. I turned on his video the other day for “Black Sweat” and it’s not him, he’s like turned into James Brown or something. I would turn him back into how he was, I mean I wouldn’t revisit the pants with his ass out, but the sound. I would have him on some sexual shit, playing his guitar. But I realize he’s more religious now, but that’s who I would work with. I’m trying to check out these young kats. I don’t like clubs, never have. But I’m checking out some of these new kats because I want to know what they’re doing as far as performing and what they’re coming up with.
UrbanBridgez.com: When can we expect the new RL and NEXT albums?
RL: Man when they show me the money! Man I was so bored I was writing songs for Augies (Strip Club in Minneapolis). I mean they’re some cool kats. I use to go there, I don’t drink anymore, but I would like bring my little sister or my girl or whatever. Just to chill out, so I started writing songs for some of the strippers, because I knew them. My guy is about to renew his vows and he’s having it at Disney Land so I’m writing a song for that. That’s my gift to him is writing this song. I want my music to mean something. The NEXT record is done, I got like two more songs for my album. I did some mixtape stuff, some of the songs on those are original songs. T-Low just stopped by, his nephew is doing some music, so he’s working on that. Let me tell you the difference between black and white. White people will come together and just put their issues to the side in order to do business. Black people will let egos and business make it so they can’t feed their family. That don’t make no sense to me. Like with Tweet, yeah he did a record dissing me because he was mad. The thing about it is, you can be mad or whatever and as long as we keep it behind the scenes we can work on it, but he decided to make it public and once you do that, you can’t take it back. But because of business I said fuck it, I’m willing to put all that aside so we can do business. Even though he was wrong. I can’t sit and focus on the negative. T-Low didn’t turn his back either, that’s his brother, he’s upset, but he’s focused also. It’s all about loyalty. Like with you, when everything drops, you’ll be the first one I do an interview with, because you got love for me. It’s like we go back and I don’t have anything out now, and you came to me now to do an interview with me and I ain’t at the top right now, that’s loyalty.
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
RL: We don’t really call them fans, we call them friends. But I guess they are fans (laughs). Keep me cool!