Raphael Saadiq: Soul Survivor

Some superstars demand the attention of a room when they walk in. Rafael Saadiq, a legend in our time, has a modest walk that’s filled with majestic energy and feeling. That same feeling you felt when you first heard “Anniversary” or “Instant Vintage.” This smooth and talented singer/songwriter/musician/producer/arranger sat down to talk to us about his new refreshing project, “The Way I See It,” and life in general. This 60’s inspired sophomore album will not disappoint the fans of Tony! Toni! Toné!, Lucy Pearl and artist such as Macy Gray, Angie Stone and Joss Stone. He’s back!!!

Singersroom: What inspired you to make your new album, ‘The Way I See It’, so heavily inspired by soul music from the 1960’s and 70’s?

Raphael Saadiq: My whole life I’ve been inspired by them (The Temptations). The wardrobe, the style; just the whole vibe. Now I just wanted to put more of the music to it. My whole career I put a little of it in but now I had the technology to do more with it.

Singersroom: Why did you decide to make ‘The Why I See It’ comprised solely of live instrumentation?

Raphael Saadiq: Well if you have the talent and skills to do it you might as well do it. I just wanted to do it like that this time; it’s easier to use instruments to get them to organically go with your voice. I thought it would be fun and easier. I played 95% of the instruments myself.

Singersroom: Do you like touring or being in the studio?

Raphael Saadiq: I like it all! It’s like sports to me. If you’re a baller, you should be able to shoot from anywhere on the court. You can’t just be the layup cat, or the three point cat or just the free throw.

Singersroom: So can we assume you play ball? Or do you “try” to play ball?

Raphael Saadiq: I have to say I can play but I don’t play enough….so I try. I could look really good out there. I’m quick, I got some handle, I got a J, [and] I got a three. But if you know anything about that game you know you got to be playing that game everyday and running everyday. You can’t be good at two different things like that. I seen some musicians that think they can do it but you can’t really handle some cats that are out there ballin’ everyday. I’m a fan of sports so I always use sports analogies to get my point across.

Singersroom: When you’re working with other people are you taking your own influence and transferring it into a piece or the other people’s style to mold it into something that they want to do?

Raphael Saadiq: I guess it’s a little of both. I look at the artist that I’m working with and if I feel like they can pull off something that would reflect something that I would do I would give them part of that.

Singersroom: Being such a renowned singer, songwriter, and producer you’ve work on a lot of projects. How do you approach working on a D’Angelo Record?

Raphael Saadiq: I would give it to D’Angelo because he would know where to go with it. I call myself a point guard. In the “off the music” record there’s a picture in it and under it says “Point Guard.” I feel like I can pass the song to good people. If I’m working with Mary, I’m working with someone that can make it their own and I just have to meet them half way. Don’t miss that layup.

Singersroom: Can we expect a collaboration with Tony! Toni! Tone! or Lucy Pearl anytime soon?

Raphael Saadiq: We’re talking about doing that but its way off. Me, D’Angelo and Q-Tip.

Singersroom: When did you realize that music was your thing?

Raphael Saadiq: I just wanted to touch people, I could have been a sideman and that would have been cool. I kind of got pushed into the whole singing thing, like in Tony [Toni! Tone!], I was the youngest and most marketable cat in the group. My brother was the lead singer and the record company kept saying “let him sing, let him sing”.

Singersroom: How did you feel about that situation?

Raphael Saadiq: Uncomfortable, very uncomfortable because I used to have that base in my hand and that was like my shield. When they let you be the lead singer you somewhat have to be the clown a little bit, entertaining people, talking to people while you sing. It was never really my thing.

Singersroom: Do you feel like a different person when you’re performing onstage?

Raphael Saadiq: Definitely, my dad used to say when you’re onstage you’re this totally different cat and when you’re offstage you’re a whole different cat. I’m glad I’m able to do that because if I was that same person that’s onstage, that would be weird. You have to have your game face on.

Singersroom: It’s kind of a trend now for celebrities to fight for a cause. Like adopt an African child. Have you in anyway fallen into this trend?

Raphael Saadiq: Not really, I’ve never been to Africa. My dad has been there twice. My sister goes to Africa a lot, but as far as adopting kids in Africa… no.

Singersroom: Do you have any kids of your own?

Raphael Saadiq: No, I have a whole lot of nieces and nephews that have adopted me to be their father. I have a lot of needy kids in my neighborhood. I’m starting this program LMP; Let the Music Play. It’s really to get the kids out of the community and to a camp that last a week or a weekend so they can write songs for different artists. That’s what I’m trying to do now.

Singersroom: Will you be there personally?

Raphael Saadiq: Yea, I’ll be there personally. It’s an outreach program and if it gets bigger, I would love for it to spread to people that just love music.

Singersroom: What was it like working with Stevie Wonder?

Raphael Saadiq: It’s always magical to work with somebody I grew listening to. I truly admire him. It’s something I’ll never get used to. —— By: Interview By Sadeah Bunch & Deyior


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