The year was 1995 and a new R&B teen group made up of brothers debuted with a single that later would become one of the biggest songs of that year…the group was Soul For Real and the song was “Candy Rain.” They were signed to Uptown a label that also included a roster of hit-makers like Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, GUY, Heavy D & The Boyz and a host of others, founded by industry vet Andre Harrell. In 1996, Heavy D took over as CEO as Andre moved to Motown.
With the huge success of their debut album which included two more hit singles “Every Little Thing” and “If You Want It.” The group went on multiple major tours and started work on their sophomore album entitled “For Life.” However unlike with the first album, the group wasn’t able to capture the success of their debut when it was released the following year. They would later be dropped from the label and sign to an independent with the release of their third album “Heat” in 1999.
Since then the guys have kept a low profile while working on various projects in Atlanta. For our Black Music Month Interview Series we couldn’t think of a better group to kick it off! The group talked to Tishelle of UrbanBridgez.com about the trials and tribulations of the industry and what challenges they’ve had to face while making their come-back. The group also speaks on their relationship with the late Heavy D and it may surprise many to learn it wasn’t as great as we all thought.
From then to now UrbanBridgez.com speaks to the fellas of Soul For Real about it all in this fun and lighthearted interview. These guys are still “beast” and ready to reclaim their spot with their up-coming album release this summer! Get reacquainted with the guys who released one of the best R&B albums in the 90’s “Candy Rain,” which made our list of the top 50 essential R&B albums of the 90’s; Soul For Real!
UrbanBridgez.com: When you guys debuted with “Candy Rain” did you ever think it would get as huge as it did?
Choc (Soul For Real): When we first debuted with it, we were just really being hopeful about the record. We knew we had got alot of positive feedback on it, but we was hoping it would do what it did. We’re glad it was such a success, because till this day people still show us alot of love for that record.
UrbanBridgez.com: You guys were also signed to Uptown one of the biggest urban labels in the 90’s, how did being signed to that label shape you guys into the artists you still are today?
Jason (Soul For Real): I feel it turned us into beastly business men because it was a good experience but yet it was a bad one. It was a learning experience and bad things happened even though it was a positive situation. With all of the negative things that happened it let us know it was more of a business than anything and made us who we are now. Now we’re ready to do business more than ever!
UrbanBridgez.com: Why do you guys personally feel your sophmore album didn’t blow up the way the debut album did?
KD (Soul For Real): The reason why it didn’t blow up is because like Jason was just talking about, bad business. The business is made up of sharks and when the check is cut for millions of dollars people put it in their pockets. They thought it would sell off of the fame we had from the first album but it wasn’t like that. Andre Harrell put alot of money into breaking Soul For Real. Then when Heavy D took over he didn’t do exactly what Andre did.
Jason (Soul For Real): If they wanted that second album to go…it would of went! That’s all I have to say.
Choc (Soul For Real): I just want to add, in a nut shell the promotion we got for the first album was nowhere around what we got for the second. That’s why alot of people didn’t know about it. Like what my brother said…
KD (Soul For Real): They put the money in their pocket (all laugh)!
Choc (Soul For Real): You can’t keep a good man down, because we’ve never stopped doing what we do. We’re back to give y’all more and better than ever!
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s been the biggest challenge for you guys from then to now?
KD (Soul For Real): This industry shows no love at times. The journey back has been long and hard, that’s the biggest challenge for me.
Choc (Soul For Real): That’s really it, I would just say the journey of the whole success of coming from where we come from which is the hood. Into making it into the limelight and having that much of a good experience in the game. It’s bittersweet because we didn’t have the journey that we would of liked to. As far as being consistent and giving you guys what you know we can give you. It’s nothing though, because you never get what you can’t handle out here. With that being said, it’s like hey the sky is the limit now!
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about one of your best experiences while on tour, you guys were apart of some big summer tours?
Choc (Soul For Real): One of the most memorable times to me was really just the roster of artists we use to be with. Some of the greatest artists you can think of from our era and before. Being on tour with like Biggie, Mary J and Jodeci, just like that whole era of music was surreal for us to go from watching these acts on TV to being around them to touring with them. The list goes on really, that was the most memorable for me and I’m sure my brothers as well.
KD (Soul For Real): Summer Jam 95’!
Choc (Soul For Real): Yeah Boy!
UrbanBridgez.com: Oh boy, what happened (all laugh)?
KD (Soul For Real): That was my most memorable. Actually just meeting Heavy D at the time he signed us it was crazy because we was into his music right before we met him and then got signed.
Jason (Soul For Real): It was alot of things that happened, but alot of the times people don’t remember alot of the good things that happened, because bad things stick out that will stick you like a throne. One of my most memorable things period from the industry was being dropped from the label. Which turned me into a beast (all laugh)!
Listen to SFR’s New Single “Can’t Leave U Alone”
UrbanBridgez.com: We’re going to title this interview and “beast” is going to be in it (all laugh)! Let’s get into the new album “The Journey” what can Soul For Real fans look forward to?
KD (Soul For Real): You can just look forward to the whole transition of our craft and how we’ve grown. Just our perspective on music, you can also look forward to surprise collaborations. Unlike the first projects, we are now producing and writing. We’ve always done it but now we’re getting the chance to express it to you guys more.
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve guys have explained it as being a new sexy sound, explain that from your point of view?
Jason (Soul For Real): I don’t want to explain it (all laugh). I think you guys should just wait, listen and love it! It’s going to be good!
UrbanBridgez.com: You mentioned some collaborations, can you tell us anybody now you worked with?
Choc (Soul For Real): We’ll shoot one out there now, Jadakiss. Alright we’ll give you some more Keith Murray and Cassidy and we have production by Swizz Beatz. You guys can look forward to things like that, we’re about to go crazier than ever.
UrbanBridgez.com: With the passing of Heavy D and him being a friend and mentor to you guys, tell us about some of your best memories with him and the best advice he gave you?
KD (Soul For Real): Heavy D was a big heavy nice guy at times.
Choc (Soul For Real): At other times, things got a little weird, but we loved the guy.
KD (Soul For Real): I mean we had our good times with Hev and our bad times but it’s unfortunate that he died and we haven’t spoken in years. Even when we found out he died we reached out and nobody even reached out back. Personally we don’t know what we ever did to anybody but be talented and gifted. I don’t know what happened, there is alot of dirt that people are not getting from this situation.
Choc (Soul For Real): We’re going to give it to y’all though!
KD (Soul For Real): People think it’s all happy and everything, but it’s not all happy. Good and bad and to be honest I was pissed at Hev before he died. It feels bad for me to say that, but that’s just how life goes.
Jason (Soul For Real): Even through all of that we still got love for him. Because if it wasn’t for him, y’all wouldn’t know us. One of my most memorable moments with him was we were all in the studio arguing about getting the second album together. We were suppose to write like most of the second album, half of it. Then they wasn’t trying to have that.
Choc (Soul For Real): Initially it was agreed upon and for whatever reason it didn’t work out that way. We’re not holding any grudges like my brother said, we got love for Hev regardless. The best revenge is success and that’s the only thing we plan to do.
UrbanBridgez.com: I think alot of people think you guys are all sweet and everything, but I am getting a little gutter from y’all (laughs)
KD (Soul For Real): Oh yeah we’re from the hood. That’s the thing too, when Hev got a hold of us he made us look like sweet apple pie boys. He made us look like America’s dream, but at the same time when I’m going home my man just got shot in his face. My other man just got his leg blown off, it’s just nothing sweet over here.
UrbanBridgez.com: That’s good because now we’re getting to see the real Soul For Real!
Choc – Exactly!
KD (Soul For Real): I think he did us a little bit of a favor though by cleaning us up like that though. People would of thought we were scary, hell I already look scary (all laugh). People wouldn’t of most likely wanted to even talk to me if they knew how I really was. But we’re older now, so we’re not really hood anymore.
Jason (Soul For Real): I don’t think the right word is hood, because it’s not like we were brought up like that. That’s just the experiences life shows you and things change you…and make you a beast (all laugh)!
UrbanBridgez.com: Oh lord, there’s that word!
Choc (Soul For Real): We’re smooth and polished, but rough around the edges.
UrbanBridgez.com: I like that! What are some other things you guys are working on?
Jason (Soul For Real): We’re just working. We got so many ideas, we got TV ideas, movie ideas, we’re just ready to go! So for the people that believe in us and are ready we are too! But that doesn’t really come around alot, it’s like that Eminem song, you gotta cease that moment. It’s very rare you get a second chance to prove yourself.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of the current artists that you guys are feeling right now?
Choc (Soul For Real): We like people who are doing their thing! There is alot of garbage out there and the bar is getting lower as far as talent. But we appreciate the way music is constantly evolving. Because we switch up too, it doesn’t matter to us.
KD (Soul For Real): There really isn’t alot of choices with music right now. It’s like everywhere you turn, you’re like hearing the same song in a different way. Rap is ruling the world, so you should ask what rappers do you guys like because there are no R&B singers out right now.
Jason (Soul For Real): When it comes to rap I like 50 Cent alot, he’s a funny guy. When it comes to R&B, we got like….Soul For Real (all laugh).
Choc (Soul For Real): I like alot of the artists that we paved the way for, anybody out doing their thing right now we wouldn’t mind collaborating with. Let me be more serious, I like Keri Hilson and Chris Brown.
UrbanBridgez.com: Anything else you guys want to leave with your fans who are excited to have you guys back?
KD (Soul For Real): Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.
Choc (Soul For Real): We’re glad to be back for y’all. We would advise y’all to get ready for alot of heat from us. On a positive note, whatever it is out there that you strive to do…like our dad always told us anything you want, you got to be the one to make it happen!