Love, Charlie: Charlie Wilson Talks New Album, Today’s R&B, Younger Artists, and More

Right in time for the holiday set aside to celebrate love – Valentine’s – Charlie Wilson brings us his latest studio album all about love, appropriately titled Love, Charlie.

Wilson has already kicked off the new year in perfect style, releasing his latest album, which just so happened to also come out right on his birthday – January 29th. This is the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter’s sixth studio album and according to him, his best one yet. When it comes to R&B you can’t go wrong with love as the focus and you really can’t go wrong with Charlie Wilson, because if there’s anyone out in 2013 you can still depend on to give you some pure R&B sounds it’s sure to be Uncle Charlie.

For his latest album, Charlie Wilson talked to Singersroom about the album, what continues to inspire him, the future of R&B, favorite new artists, and more.

Birthday and Album Release: I did an in store at J&R’s New York. It was an amazing day, they sold out in that store and I sat there and signed autographs for everybody who bought albums for about three hours. People were not only buying one CD, they were buying three, four, five CDs at a time, which is awesome. We sold out in that particular store, incredible so I’m really happy that it was on my birthday. Everywhere we went it was just an all day advertisement and you know we just had a good time. I had ended up with like five cakes, everywhere we went somebody had a cake for me, everyplace we went. I was just like ‘wow,’ it was an incredible day for me.

Love, Charlie?: First of all, I put a lot of love into this album and I always think about God, God is love and every song on this album is about love. You know love for your wife, love for your daughters, love for your girlfriend, love for your boyfriend, it’s everything on my CD, in one way or the other, were talking about love in it. The very first song on my album is called “I believe” and I’m talking about my faith in God and my faith and belief in myself and I know that if you believe in something greater than yourself and believe in yourself, you can do anything. So I started off the CD with “I Believe” and then after that we get to talking about love heavily.

Choosing “My Love is All I Have” as The Lead Single: I just thought I’d change it up a little bit and do a little something different as far as the groove is concerned. There’s so many records on this particular CD that could be singles and what I did is I approached it to all my writers and producers meaning Wirlie Morris, Gregg Pagani, Emile from The Insomniax, I told all these guys, each one of them and said ‘we have to have a single,’ so each one of them was shooting for the single so they didn’t know if their song was making the single or not so when I went to them and heard the songs and we were writing the songs together I was like ‘no this is not the first single’ so we just kept writing. I made everybody believe that their song that they were coming with would be one of the singles and we ended up with 12 fantastic records and they all are single potential. When I tell you, every song on my album is single potential for just great R&B.

Favorite Song Off The Album: Wow, you know it’s like having your own children. It’s kind of hard to start picking and choosing your favorite child, it doesn’t work like that so I love all of the records that I recorded. “If I believe,” it’s one of the ones, because I put God first and I thank him and I know if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be where I am now so that would be the one that I would say ‘okay’, and it’s a lot different sounding than anything on my album. I did do a doo-wop record, you know from the 50s and that one is called “I think I’m in Love” and anyone that’s ever been in love and then you fall in love all over again with the same person, it’s like your texting and your walking and your having this great conversation with the person you love and you just step off the curve and almost get hit by a car because your not paying attention, now that’s love right there.

On the Keith Sweat “Whisper” Feature: Well because Keith brought it to my attention that I owe him one. One day I was talking to him and he was like ‘yo, yo, yo I put you on in the 90s when I was hot, I was hot Charlie I put you on,’ I was like ‘I remember’ so he was like ‘your hot right now your gonna’ put me on’ I was like ‘I really been thinking about you Keith I’ve just been trying to figure out when and what record I could write and put you on. So we wrote this incredible record called “Whisper” and it fit him just fine and it seemed right suited for him.

Staying Inspired: The fans are expecting the records and still loving the records and when I know that they still love what I do I’m just going to continue to write and produce these records. And I notice it may take a little while for people to actually go out and buy CDs when in the physical sense you have to get up and actually buy the CD because some people don’t have things to download with because my adult fans, a lot of those fans don’t download so it’s good to have them so they can still get them at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, wherever and get those CDs on sales. It’s great you know. Kids will go out and download one song, my fans will go out and buy the whole album and this is the reason why it’s good for me. I’m having a great time selling records. I didn’t think I would still be doing this at this time in my life but hey I’m even hotter now than I ever was.

Why fans should go out and get this album: This one has to be the best CD I’ve ever made, that’s hands down sorry. That’s pound for pound, pound for pound that’s the best one yet. You know it’s just because it’s a love record, you know there’s a lot of love things on it and I’m always talking about the woman, don’t shoot the messenger [laughs], don’t shoot the messenger I’m on the woman side for this. I’m still praising the woman and that’s just it.

Feelings on the R&B genre and the direction it’s heading: Well I think they’re really trying to figure it out and I think they understand that you have to have some meat and potatoes on your plate not just syrup. I think they are just trying to really find out. A lot of people don’t know how to play music so some of these artists are dealing with these producers and their cutting up beats, because they are hip-hop orientated. I think they’ve finally come around to understand they need some meat and potatoes on their plate and not just an 808. You’re not going to be a heavy weight without some meat and potatoes. They’re getting it together, I’ve seen some of the people, some of these young stars are understanding it and they’re looking at me and saying ‘Uncle Charlie man thanks a lot because your letting us understand and know what real R&B is’ and I was like ‘don’t be afraid of it,’ because I’m a hip-hop lover myself, I love hip-hop, I don’t have anything against hip-hop I’ve dealt with the best and biggest hip-hop artists in the world, they would like to cut their teeth on some R&B. A lot of them grew up listening to R&B and a lot of them grew up just listening to hip-hop so when they can get some meat and potatoes from some old school they love that. It’s good for the world, it’s good for the fans, it’s good for the younger fans because they don’t really know what it is. It sounds a little older to them because they’re used to that beat just banging or something so light and so airy and they got these vocals going across with auto-tune and they don’t understand that’s all they know. Then they hear something with substance to it then they’re like ‘what’s that? I like that. That guy can sing.’ Yeah well that’s what we’ve been doing all our life. Yeah so R&B is coming around in the full front and I’m so happy I can be one of the leaders that’s bringing it back.

Current Artist and Longevity: I know some of the young artists that play music and write their songs like Miguel, I like Miguel, he’s young but he listens and he can write a song himself and play the song, those are songwriters and producers, you can write your own songs, you got to write your own songs and keep it young and fresh because you are young and fresh. When you can put something a little old school on top of that then you’re bringing these younger fans with you to R&B.

See I’m at the top of the bridge. I am the bridge between R&B and hip-hop, I am that guy so I don’t have to lean toward hip-hop to get some young fans, I ain’t trying to do that. I’m at the top of the bridge. If you want to come see what I’m doing then your welcome to come I would love to have you as a fan but I’m not going to the left to hip-hop to get myself known all over the world, R&B is coming back, I’m the leader, and I’m so happy to see some of these young artist that understand and appreciate R&B, I mean their getting it now. Even Trey Songz, we’ve always talked a lot, I’ve always told him pull your pants up, put a tie on, or whatever, be grown and sexy, be young but be grown and sexy and help bring R&B back to where it’s suppose to be. Hip-hop and R&B can stand face to face with each other. R&B isn’t suppose to be following hip-hop, it shouldn’t have to but it has, all these years because they thought hip-hop was suppose to just come and go away and it dominated the whole country and then the world and then the swagger came with it that dominated as well. I mean I’m not saying you can’t sag anything and swag but when your doing R&B pull your pants up, put a bow-tie on, put a string tie on, and just do the thing and do the grown and sexy as well with it, that you can have the swag with it.

Being on stage: I’m still just as nervous as the first time when I met Stevie Wonder. I’m always nervous because my whole life I’ve always tried my best to please the people that are sitting in those seats and that’s all that’s on my mind. I’m always afraid that when I leave the stage someone’s going away saying something negative so I don’t have hardly any of that but it always worries me that somebody, I may not have pleased them, so that’s a big problem that I have and that’s a good problem to have because when I get to the stage I go hard in the paint, I leave it all out there.

Experimenting outside of R&B: Oh, yeah I have some records right now that will shock you, like ‘wow, why didn’t he put that on the album?’ It’s because if I put out some rhythmic records that are hip-hop flavored and you hear it and you’ll be like ‘wow, Uncle Charlie why didn’t you put that out?’ Yeah but if I put that out I’m just going to get some digital downloads and then what about my physical sales? I mean you would be surprised at some of the artists you think are selling millions of records are not selling millions of records and their getting one song digital download yeah they might sell a whole let of records on one song that way but they’re not selling no physical sales. I mean you’d be surprised, I cut those record all the time because sometime I struggle with that thought all the time in my mind. I’m not saying I don’t struggle with that thought, but I have some really, really incredible records that I could hand to somebody right now and they would definitely have a hit record. If I did that I just sometimes think ‘what is it going to do for me with my core fans.’ Will my core fans be upset? Those ones who expect me to do the same kind of music I’ve been doing. Man I would love to expose it out the box but will they shoot me in the foot? Because everyone’s going to be like ‘Ah man, you’re trying too hard now.’ I really know and believe in my heart that’s what the critics are going to say. I can tell you write now, they’re going to blow my head off about it, because I read some writings from a guy who was writing on this CD and said ‘Oh no, it ain’t like from the last album where he was trying, like sounding like he was trying too hard to be some youngster but this time he just kept it real,’ you see what I’m saying? I understand that they’re gonna’ cut me up If I give them anything other then some stuff like this. Now again, I got some records that will blow your socks off. I got some records that you wouldn’t even know it’s me, what would it do you know. I got the next “Gangnam Style” record, I got his record, I got that record. I was trying to figure out why I’m holding on to this record. I could give that record to Chris Brown, I can give it that record to the Gangnam Style guy, I can give this record to whoever. That record would just shoot them right straight back. I’m good at that, all kinds of music. I produce all kinds and I sing all kinds of music. I would not hand those records to the record company because they would be like ‘now see, Uncle Charlie done lost his mind,’ and everybody else would probably say that so I’m staying true to the R&B game.

His Hobbies: I play with my animals; I have a lot of animals. I have alpacas, I have llamas, I have dogs, I have lambs, goats, chickens, and cats. I used to have a couple of cows and horses. I used to have 12 horses but I wasn’t there to ride them a lot and the family who lives on the ranch, who takes care of most of the stuff and looked after the place, and I noticed when I came back a couple of the times one year, you could tell they weren’t being ridden so I was like ‘you know what, this is not fair to my horses and I thought you guys were riding my horses and treating them right’ so I sold them and gave them to some people I know who would ride them and treat them really good and take them on the track and walk them out.