Three years after his last LP, “OnMyRadio,” featuring the hit “SoBeautiful” ― which Musiq Soulchild admits is one of his personal favorites to perform ― the soul singer is back with a new direction. Musiq admits that he never wanted to abandon his neo-soul base, but he’s also come to the realization that it’s time to broaden his fanbase with music that will hopefully appeal to people on a global level, aka pop. So far, mission accomplished.
The crooner’s first single off “Musiqinthemagiq” ― in stores and online today ― is an upbeat radio-friendly track, featuring Swizz Beatz. But Musiq fans (especially those from his Def Soul days), don’t fret. Musiq will not steer you wrong.
We chopped it up with the singer two weeks before the release of his sixth album to find out what’s so magical about his latest offering and whatever happened to neo-soul.
Go to the next page to read the exclusive interview with Musiq Soulchild!
Global Grind: You’re releasing your upcoming album “MusiqandtheMagiq” on May 3rd. What was the direction and the concept for this project?
Musiq Soulchild: I’m always trying to offer up music that would appeal to a broader audience. Hip-hop music and pop music have received a lot of attention and not to say that I’m competing with that, but that’s just the reality. So what I’m trying to do right now is try to make soul or R&B music as popular as hip-hop and pop are and encouraging other art, but inspiring them to take a different approach.
Are you doing that because you think people aren’t necessarily receptive to the neo-soul movement, that you were so strongly a part of?
Yes and no. I think that people know about it, but it doesn’t get the same kind of push as pop music. Pop music is really accessible, which is why it’s called pop music, but the thing about pop music is how it’s progressed throughout the years, because pop music incorporates all kinds of stuff now. Whereas pop music used to be a certain kind of sound, where anything can become pop music, it’s just done according to the formula.
What I mean by that is, hip-hop music has become pop music in a lot of ways. Everybody across the world is familiar with hip-hop music.There was a time where hip-hop music pretty much got the same wrap as, it was only geared towards a certain group of people. Whereas, now, pretty much everybody listens to hip-hop … that did contribute to compromising the original idea because of what hip-hop music was all about, but it’s still hip-hop music, none the less. What I’m trying to do is accomplish the same thing without compromising the integrity of what soul music is all about.
I’m basically approaching it in a way where it’ll be more accessible to people, which is why you might hear me say sometimes, ‘I don’t just make R&B music because R&B is always geared towards adult contemporary radio stations.’ Whereas, I feel like if I make R&B music from the soul music perspective, a lot of people get confused because most people assume it’s the same thing but it’s not.
R&B music, by tradition, is a certain style of music, a certain style of writing, whereas soul music is just an approach. You can approach anything soulfully. You can approach rock music soulfully, you can approach hip-hop music soulfully. So I’m using that concept of soul music and advocating soul music on purpose because I want people to focus on the intent behind what’s being presented. Rather than focus too much on the style and genre of music. All of that is just distracting you from the overall point.
Who can we expect to see on this album with you?
Swiss Beatz is the only feature on the album, but I work with a lot of producers that I haven’t worked with before. That helps to contribute to that pop visibility ― I don’t like to use the word pop. I only really use it because people can identify with it, but it kind of has a stigma attached to it … So I’ll just say a more universal appeal. And in some ways, they’re kind of demanding me to come out of my comfort zone a little bit. I don’t mind doing that if it means that I’ll be able to entertain a broader audience than usual, because when it comes to soul music, soul music is for everybody. If you’re into it that’s who I’m making music for. Some songs might sound different, but the approach I generally put on music is the same and I’m sure if you give it an honest listen you’ll pick that up.
But people say things like, ‘You don’t want to mainstream, you don’t want to go mainstream.’ But I don’t know, I think that’s the goal. I would love the day where soul music becomes mainstream because that means that that’s one of the main types of music that people are listening to. When you do that you realize that you can tap into a broader audience around the world, more people will be coming to your shows because they love what you make rather than it’s just some far off niche kind of thing that you have to be part of an elite group of people to dig. I’m not tripping off of anything like that. With more people comes more business, with more business you can affect and reach more people. That just seems like a win-win to me.
Which song on this album would you say you are closest to?
It changes from time to time as I listen to it. Right now I’m really feeling this one song called “BeFriends.” It was produced by Jack Splash, written by a songwriter named [Phillip “Taj” Jackson] and myself. It speaks to the circumstance that everybody has gone through, or is going through now, or will go through at some point in their lives. It’s two people in a relationship where the girl wants to go see other people and doesn’t want to be with me, and not for any particular reason, it’s just that she just wasn’t interested in settling down. But she still wants to be friends with me and I say in the song, I don’t think I can be your friend because I’m already in love with you. Either I be the one you want to be with or we can’t hang out.
We can’t be hitting up each other every now and again like everything was cool … Because all I’m going to think about is how come I’m not with you, how come we’re not together. Because I love you, because we are friends, I’ve got your back for whatever you need me for, but I’m not going to be up in your face everyday, while you’re trying to be with somebody else. I don’t do too well with that. But that’s what the songs all about. Though, it’s more so about the vibe of the song. The vibe of the song is just very soulful, it’s very laid back and it’s kind of a throwback to the neo-soul sound of the late ‘90’s and early 2000s, so it’s kind of nostalgic for me in a way.
“SoBeautiful” was featured on Atlantic Records Valentine’s Day Love EP. What’s your favorite love song?
My favorite love song that I’ve written and recorded is “SoBeautiful,” because of the time I wrote the song, the motivation behind it. I think it was a historical event, a landmark in my career because of the way I approached the song. It’s just a really special song.
What song would you say you’re always excited to perform?
I would have to say “Love.” Because of the way people react to that song. It would have to be “Love.”
So do you have any touring plans?
Yeah, we’re talking about putting together a tour for June. Hopefully that can happen. I don’t like to talk about the action before we confirm but I’m pretty sure it’s happening.
You were featured on Bootsy Collins’ “Tha Funk Capital of the World” album. Is that correct?
Oh yeah, I did a remake of one of his records, “Munchies for Your Love.” I wasn’t able to work in the studio with him, but working on that song and being able to contribute to his legacy is definitely an honor.