Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Eric Roberson is truly unstoppable. He is highly respected as a top-rated artist in R&B music. Refusing to sell his soul and mankind to major labels, the “At the Same Time,” crooner is considered to be the “voice for other independent artists.” Roberson is the leader for other up and coming artists, who would like to pursue a career in the music industry. He understands the industry can be shady and misleading, but he continues to break barriers, take risks, and climb the ladder to the top. An accomplished songwriter, Roberson has written songs for Jill Scott, Vivian Green, 112, Musiq Soulchild, Case, Carl Thomas, and Charlie Wilson. He was also the first independent artist to be nominated for a BET award in 2007, was the recipient of the BETJ Virtual Award for Underground Artist of the Year, and was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Urban/ Alternative Performance in 2010 and 2011. As you can see, the Jersey native understands the importance of hard work and dedication.
Today (Aug. 12), Roberson releases his 10th studio album, The Box, which pays homage to hip-hop music, and not being afraid to step outside the box. The first single of the project is “Mark On Me.”
Singersroom conversed with the singer about the creative process for the album, why he is a hip-hop kid at heart, why family is first, and more. Read all about it!
On His 10th Studio Album, The Box — The album has many different meanings for me in general, because I have more creative input on this album. I am getting older and maturing as a man, wearing suits on stage now (LOL), and it’s about me recognizing my growth as a human being. I came up with the album title because of my love for hip-hop music and the boom box. Growing up, my sister’s boom box sparked my love for music and hip-hop. But overall, The Box album has a mature subject matter, but I am still keeping the hip-hop flavor in the music. This is truly a different album from the other previous albums I’ve recorded, but I am still being real with myself. And I am happy about it because it’s all about appreciating real and soulful music. It’s hip-hop on the album, and on the album cover, I am wearing a suit and tie holding a boom box, which illustrates the direction I wanted for this album musically. The songs on the album are coming from an honest place because I am evolving as an artist while incorporating a mixture of hip-hop beats and sounds.
On The Creative Process For The Album — The creative process for The Box album was different for me musically because it took a turn. It was like ‘don’t do any work until you feel something in the studio,’ that’s it. That was basically the direction for the album. I was feeling good and followed my heart. I was really chasing the ideas from the top of my head. I am very happy about The Box because it didn’t take too much time to record. It took about 8-12 months, which was great because I really had time to focus. My whole music business idea is that you have to be open to what might happen and then you sing and talk about it. I just really had a freestyle mentality for it, and I was on the passenger side of the journey because God has the wheel.[Listen to Eric Roberson's "Mark On Me"]
On Hip-Hop As a Dominating Factor in Music — I am a big A Tribe Called Quest and Public Enemy fan, so what we did with this record is that we paid homage to different regions: Atlanta, Miami, Louisiana, New Orleans, the Midwest, where Kanye and Common are from, the East Coast (New York City, New Jersey), and bring a West Coast feel to hip-hop. One of the songs on the album, “The Cycle,” features one of my favorite rapper, Pharoahe Monch, and when you listen to the track, you will recognize the tribute to hip-hop. Hip-hop has so much value because you can’t really find music without it. Hip-hop exists because the music still exists and coming from an R&B singer’s standpoint, hip-hop affected my dress code and what I did because it played such an important role in my life. We have to embrace it and bring it along with us. Why can’t we embrace it? Hip-hop is changing, but we have to compliment it because it’s a part of our culture. It’s not my place to judge it as a whole, but I know it has significant value for many people. Hip-hop is everywhere and it has accomplished so much, and that’s what I wanted to patronize on this album.
On His Favorite Songs on the New Album — I love all of the songs on the album, but my favorites would have to be “Lust for Love,” “The Cycle,” and “Do The Same For Me.” “Lust for Love” really sets the mood for the album, and it’s about a man who mistake lust for love. The man is trying to connect with someone that wants nothing to do with him spiritually, emotionally, or romantically. “Do The Same For Me” is a personal track for me because my father is singing on the track with me. It’s the last track on the album, and my father never sung with me on an album, so it was a beautiful moment for my dad and me. My dad was singing the song and my mother started crying as she was watching him in the vocal booth, and that was very emotional for me because I witnessed the endless love my parents have for each other. “The Cycle” simply talks about my relationship history, which I think everyone can relate to. It’s about how a partner is not willing to commit or grow up in a relationship. The song may be a touchy subject to talk about, but I just wanted to be truthful and share my own personal experiences about relationships.
On Being an Innovator for Other Independent Artists — My career could’ve navigated to somewhere else because I had deals that weren’t working for me. On a previous record label, there were songs that A&Rs loved, but it was all about selling the album, which songs should be played on the radio, so we can get a hit. It was all about SELL, SELL, SELL, and I got to a point where that’s not the only thing I am trying to do as an artist. And that’s when I made the decision to go independent and stay independent. And I released my first independent project, The Esoteric Movement, on my record label, B.L.U.E Erro Soul. It was more like a momentum, a choice, and I am happy with the choice I made because I get to record the music that I want to make and release. I don’t regret the choice and decisions I made in this business.
On a major label, you have to work really hard to make your idea into reality. I remember when Maxwell fought hard to stay on his label because as an artist, you have to prove yourself constantly on the label. And since there’s a new channel to sell music, artists are under a lot more pressure. An artist that had a number one hit or recorded a number one album is reminded that they need to release another number one album. But labels don’t realize that artists are maturing and they may not be in the same place when they released their first or second album. But labels don’t care about that, they want you to write another smash hit using the same concept, but with a different beat. I didn’t want to be that artist to be told when I should put an album out. I want to make music that would change peoples’ moods because it’s real and soulful. You want to bring life and meaning to songs because that’s what the people expect from you each time they hear a song or see you perform and that’s what I work hard to do. I want people to gravitate to my work and have goose bumps or say “Damn, that song is hot.”
On Fatherhood and Marriage — My kids are in the studio, my oldest is 3 and my youngest is 2, and I bring them in the booth with me. I love when they are in the studio with me. My kids and wife taught me to be more honest and embrace maturity. My family keeps me focused. As soon as I am finished working, my time is devoted to my wife and children. I know my connection with my children and wife can only strengthen my music and my manhood.