Philly soul singer, Musiq has been belting out impassioned and rhythmic tunes for over a decade. Now preparing for the release of his sixth studio album, Musiqinthemagiq, this Grammy nominated superstar comes together with Singersroom to discuss the album, his new single “Anything,” and joining forces with Kem and Ledisi for Kem’s “Intimacy” Tour.
Singersroom: Musiqinthemagiq is your sixth album. How do you manage to reinvent yourself and your music each time?
Musiq: I don’t think of it as reinventing myself. The best way I can put it is, every time I put together a project, I think of it as my first project. By doing it that way and thinking that way, it helps me to keep things fresh. It keeps me grounded. I think people really appreciate that humility, that way they’re running with you. When you come across like you got it in the bag, people have a way of not responding to cockiness like that. Plus, that’s not the kind of person I am anyway. So I just keep it straight up, I mean y’all could not care right now but if y’all still do here you go, I got some more music for you.
Singersroom: How do you manage to stay humble despite the fact that you are such a decorated and influential musician?
Musiq: I think of it in realistic terms. There are so many artists out there that people could be paying attention to. It’s bad enough the music that I do is not considered that popular anyway. It’s kind of underground even though it has a large following which is what’s cool about that. I don’t take that for granted. The moral: I could be here today and gone tomorrow – no matter how dope I think I am or how dope a bunch of people think I am. It’s just the way the industry moves and the climate of the industry. Other things are more celebrated. I just stay realistic about it. It’s good to get the love that I receive but I know there are so many other things that are getting so much love and so much support that could easily gain the attention of people. So it’s the people keep me humble.
Singersroom: What, if anything, makes this album different from your past works? What can fans look forward to this time around?
Musiq: I really don’t think I’m doing anything different on this project. People may feel like I’m doing something different by exposing them to something they never heard before. The last five albums I’ve worked on many many songs but all of the songs that I’ve worked on may not have made the album so there are aspects of my music ability that people haven’t been exposed to. So asking me the question would be a world of difference as opposed to someone who’s been following my career up to now. I would rather let the people compare the previous projects to this one.
Singersroom: In the past you’ve said a lot of the stuff you put out is not really you. Does this new album come from your personal repertoire?
Musiq: Just to clarify, because what I don’t want to happen is for people to receive that statement and think that they’re getting the watered down of myself. The reality of what is happening is this is a business so it’s like any other job. You might work for a company that their field of expertise is something you’re passionate about but because it’s not just you and its a company of people, you should be open to receive creative criticism so that you can put forth a much better product. This is not me going to the studio with just some musicians or a producer and coming out with something and that’s what you get. What happened with my previous projects and even this project is that I leave myself open to incorporate other ideas that may come from the label, my manager, or anybody. This is not just me going into the studio with an idea, recording something, and putting it out. It’s not that raw. However, the intensity and integrity of it still remains. With the way that I’m choosing to go about it, I have a better potential of entertaining a broader audience of people because I’m incorporating things I probably wouldn’t have thought of. So I don’t want people think they’re getting a watered down version of what I have to give.
Singersroom: What are some of the song topics on this upcoming album focus on?
Musiq: Pretty much all the usual type of topics. What I’m doing is talking about things that happen every day. For example, I’m talking about something specific in the song “Anything” but everybody is going to take from it what they will. As always everything is open to interpretation but I like to think that even with that capacity of being open to interpretation, it’s all self explanatory. But again, it’s all in how a person chooses to take it.
Singersroom: How was it working with Swizz Beatz for “Anything”?
Musiq: It was actually really cool. A lot of people think he did the beat but he didn’t do the beat. The song was produced by Jerry Wonda. Swizz and I kind of just came into the song, it was already written and produced. It was a song that was submitted to me actually. I thought it was cool and fresh so I put my own thing on it. And Swizz was kind of floating around the studio at the time so I thought why not take advantage of this opportunity. What’s so cool about it is he just hopped in the booth and it took him maybe 15 minutes and then we had it.
Singersroom: Why did you choose “Anything” to be the first single released from the new album?
Musiq: That was more so a collective idea. That wasn’t specifically my idea. Myself and the label collectively agreed it was a really good song to start with because of the energy of it. It was something that felt good, we all agreed that people would respond to it better as a first single than anything else that I had. Not to say the song is better than anything I had or it’s the best song on the album, but for the purpose it needed to serve that was the best option. Mostly for the energy of it though. It has good energy and it’s a good way to start things off on this project.
Singersroom: Besides, Swizz Beatz what other artists did you have the opportunity to work with for your upcoming release?
Musiq: I worked mostly with producers and musicians. As far as cameos and duets I don’t really have any at this time. The album isn’t mixed yet. The recording process is done but it isn’t mixed. A lot can happen between now and wrapping up the mixing process. So who knows? As of right now there aren’t any, but it could be some or maybe not. Either way I feel I have a strong body of work that people will be willing to go out and buy.
Singersroom: In the past you’ve done some acting. Can fans expect to see you doing a little more of that this year or will your focus be more on your music?
Musiq: I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind taking more of a technical position in the whole realm of theatre. I would rather write, produce, and direct whatever I can like videos, short films, or maybe hop in on a TV show and work with a producer or director. I don’t mind acting but I’d rather be behind the scenes. I’d rather be the storyteller than a character in the story. But as of right now there is nothing on the horizon but there are a lot of people I could reach out to. I’m personally looking forward to getting into that. So just keep your eyes and ears open for what comes out of that.
Singersroom: El DeBarge recently announced that he would be checking himself into a rehabilitation center, and we wish him a speedy recovery. How do you feel stepping into his position in Kem’s “Intimacy” Tour?
Musiq: First I’d like to say my prayers are with El and I have nothing but total confidence and faith that he is going to triumph over this. I’m extremely honored that I was considered because El is definitely a legend. So to fill in those shoes is not a small thing or something you go to sleep on. I really didn’t have a lot of time to prepare but I’m also confident in my band and my catalog of music. My fans will be in the audience as well and being sandwiched between two great artists like this, there’s no way you can lose. So I’m really looking forward to this tour. For this to be my first tour this year, I feel like I’m kicking off the year on a great start. When things happen like this it makes me realize how blessed I am. I can’t wait to get out there and have a good time with Ledisi, Kem, and whoever else comes through.
Singersroom: Knowing the caliber of artist that yourself, Kem, and Ledisi are, will there be any special extras or surprises fans can expect from you all during the tour?
Musiq: Like I said I didn’t have much time to prepare but anything can happen, that’s the thing about a tour – anything can happen. I’m going to see if I can get Swizz to come in for a couple shows, that would be awesome – or anybody else that’s floating around in whatever town I’m in. If I can get them to come sit in for a couple minutes that would be cool. But I feel that just us three is enough and I really think people will get their money’s worth and they will be thoroughly satisfied.
(Musiq will be performing live at Jazz In The Garden.) —— By: Interview By Aleta Watson