If you’re ready to be wooed and romanced, Kenny Lattimore is back supplying that musical soup! The Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter's new album, Anatomy of a Love Song, his first since 2008's Timeless, arrives in stores today (April 14).
The 45-year-old R&B veteran has weathered the treacherous changes of the music industry. Ever since his wedding song hit “For You” and the chill groove “Never Too Busy,” he remains on top of his game. His powerful, smooth tenor has been the soundtrack to rendezvous, as well as the good and bad situations in every romantic relationship.
The new album, Anatomy of a Love Song, infuses a tender sound on today’s music scene, but if you expect dated music, think again; it's more like classy and grown & sexy. You can hear it in the songs "Love Me Back" and "You Have My Heart," two of the album’s singles. Lattimore went back in the studio and created a nice blend of the old and the new, keeping his image as a classy crooner intact.
In our interview, Kenny spoke about formulating his sound in today’s market, what he thought about his ex-wife’s Chanté Moore’s presence on reality TV, how to dress as sharp as he does, the qualities he looks for in a woman, and more.
Peep it below, and be sure to purchase Anatomy of a Love Song above!
You know a thing or two about a good love song. Tell us about your seventh studio album Anatomy of a Love Song.
Well, Anatomy of a Love Song is about all of the components that make up a great love song. It starts with the lyrical content, we know a great love song will talk about the ups and downs, the goods and the bads, the ins and outs. But at the same time, I wanted the music to reflect the artists I loved from the past like Marvin Gaye, Ron Isley, Donny Hathaway, some of the sounds that I like throughout the years; there’s some music that reminds you of the Philly sound.
I’ve really been calling it my journey back to love because for a while, I really wasn’t recording and I was feeling like I wasn’t sure how important it was for me to record an album at this point in my life and career. There’s a gentleman named Carvin Haggins who produced about three songs on the album, and Carvin was like, "The industry needs your voice. The world needs your voice." And initially I listened to him, thought that was a nice statement, you know like "Oh! That’s nice! (laughs)." But the great thing is he went a step further and said, "I want you to come where I’m at and start recording." I couldn’t turn that down, it wasn’t gonna cost me a dime to go an experiment and figure out what I wanted to do to be relevant in this day and age. So we started working it out, and I began to fall back in love with the recording process. It’s kinda interesting to be in that position where you go, “Oh, I remember what this was like, again! I remember being in the studio and getting into my own skin where I was comfortable and able to push out my ideas of what was happening in my heart end emotions. So that's where I found myself, falling in love with it all over again.
As a modern soul man, where do you fit yourself in this new industry climate?
Well, I had to surround myself with young producers and classic hit producers, so that they could tell me where the industry is and give me an interpretation of “how far we think you should go” (laughs). Because you can challenge me and give me a lot of things I can do, and it comes out a little better than you thought, but it still doesn’t mean that you use it all. So, I try to surround myself with people who would be honest, who know my brand, who push me to be more than I thought I could be but never make me compromise where I feel silly like I’m trying to be 20-years-old. I call on the new adults 25 and up that are just falling in love for the first time FOR REAL, wanting to be in committed relationships, all those kinds of things, to be able to still relate to me. That was the approach for this album, to make it accessible for new adults, but at the same time let’s do some things for your faithful fan base you’ve had through the years.
To what do you owe your longevity in the business?
Wow, really God’s favor. Because I’ve seen people come and go who were mega talented. The only thing I personally did was stay true to my sound. It was about choosing songs that I could deliver authentically. And if I could authentically deliver them, then the communication, the message would still be relevant. Sometimes it’s about what you’re talking about, and love never goes out of style, so I try to make sure I’m talking about the real stuff (laughs).
Do you have a favorite song from the new album?
I don’t have one favorite song, but I’ve been enjoying the first official single “Love Me Back” because it’s different for me. Sometimes you record an album, and you just do a great body of work and you put it out there and it may work for people, but I feel like I’m living this album and living the songs. “Love Me Back” has a feel-good sound to it and it really is where I am right now in my life.
What do you think of the state of the music industry now?
I think it’s wide open. I think there are so many artists who may not ever receive mainstream critical acclaim or mainstream opportunity to be exposed. And I can’t explain who gets chosen for that. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be out in front of people for as long as I have, but we just have to learn new ways to promote the music and get it to the people. Traditionally, it was radio, and we could go to record stores, but most of those things don’t exist anymore. So we have to use the outlets we DO have in social media and technology to make sure the music is reaching our people. We're able to do direct sales a lot easier now. I can get someone’s email address, and they can sign up for a news blast, and I know they’re gonna get my product. We have to think differently about what our brand is and as artists, who lived through what I call the golden age of the industry, we just have to come outside of ourselves, from the spoiled-ness, because we were pretty spoiled back in the day. A lot of money was thrown around and spent on us, and now, you have to take responsibility for your brand.
How do you feel about your ex-wife Chanté Moore airing out your child custody business on the show R&B Divas L.A.?
One, a lot if it wasn’t true, number two, I thought it was reckless and irresponsible because my son, nor I, was a part of that cast. And there’s nothing wrong with doing reality TV, but if you look at the formula for reality TV, what makes it dynamic is the interaction of its cast members. So I thought it was irresponsible, and I think it was a mistake. It hurt our son, it hurt other people, and it was unnecessary.
A passion of yours is your KL Foundation. Tell us about that.
Currently, I am partnering with an organization called the Young Ambassadors Leadership Academy because the KL Foundation has existed for a while. In its existence, we have just been doing research. I love to go out and lend my time and energy to non-profits because I feel like I’m learning. I’m giving and learning by giving back. So what we’ve decided to focus on is a curriculum. I wanna use arts, education and mentoring to empower young people, so the way I decided to do it was partner up with an existing program that’s been working for 12 years. I sent my son to the program to see how he feels in it, so I’m not reinventing the wheel. The next seven months, we’ll either be expanding the Young Leadership Academy or I’m gonna pick up one more partner because my goal was to have an organization on the east and west coast, because I’m from Washington, D.C. originally but I live in L.A. I wanted to make sure I have organizations on the east coast and west coast to help me achieve my goals of uplifting children through the arts and mentoring.
You’ve starred in many stage productions like Loving Him Is Killing Me, The Bachelor Party, and Whatever Happened to Black Love. Are there any other acting gigs in the works?
I hope so. I have such respect for the craft. It’s one of the reasons why I executive produced with my friend Patricia Cuffie-Jones, the production Love Soul Deep, because I do see an expansion of my brand into more film and television and the theatrical. I just like to do things at a certain quality, and if I can’t do things at a certain quality, then I won’t even do it (laughs). So I just try to make sure what I’m bringing to my audience is something that’s brilliant and worth their dollar, because I know there are less dollars to be spend. So I just wanna make sure the quality of what I attach myself to is top notch.
What other artists are you listening to right now?
Let me see, the last things I bought on my iPad were Jeff Bradshaw, Teyana Taylor, Kelly Price, Jonathan McReynolds, that’s a little different, I’m listening to different types of things. So those are the last four things I bought.
What does Kenny like to do other than music? Any hobbies?
You know, I guess I’m a regular type of guy, taking my son to the movies, but hobbies? I don’t think I have any hobbies really. The way my life is set up in the music industry right now, I’m either on the road, or when my son comes home, I’m just full-time dad. I’m doing everything, And sometimes I gotta go out and work but I gotta cook, and I gotta do the school stuff with him and it’s pretty overwhelming. Really, my next hobby will probably be the spa (laughs) ‘cause I need to relax! That’s probably what I don’t do as much (laughs). But overseeing the brands is sort of a hobby. I mean, although I make money at it, I find the music industry, being a part of the marketing and exploitation of the music extremely time-consuming, but it’s creative and fun.
So your hobby is your job, which is a good thing.
It really is my job. I feel like I’m just living my dream where it’s not a lot outside of that other than just doing regular things. So, if you were my friend [and we're] just hanging out, we would go bowling, to the movies, restaurants, regular kinds of things, but when I come home, I’m not necessarily picking up a paint brush or building models. When I come home, I’m analyzing the business, trying to figure out ways to make it better.
What qualities do you look for in a woman?
Confidence, character, integrity, honesty. At one point, men are very physical, and maybe women are too, but after you’ve been married, and you’ve been through real relationships and you’ve had some ups and downs and you begin to think about things that really matter… maturity. The qualities that would be amazing to me is a woman who’s mature enough to be cool in her own skin but not afraid to uplift and support me. And it takes someone who’s really secure to do that and when I say support me, I mean really be able to celebrate whatever’s going on with me and I would celebrate her. She doesn’t have to be in the music industry, she doesn’t have to do what I do (matter of fact, I prefer for her to be doing something else), but I’m attracted to visionary women because my mother was one. So I’m attracted to the woman that has some things going but knows when she needs to turn it off, even for a second for balance, to celebrate life.
You dress sharp! Do you have a certain stylist or certain designers you like?
Thanks, I appreciate that. I have been working with a couple different people; Genelle Brooks is a stylist out of L.A., who’s been helping me recently, and one of the things we’ve been doing is making me comfortable. So she’s been helping me pull things that are more jeans, boots, beautiful tops, which are fitted but comfortable for me to perform in. Because generally in the first half of my show, I go casual then I dress up towards the latter half, which is always more visually stimulating I think for the audience. But for the suits and tuxedos, there’s a brand called Goff Duran that I love to wear. They've put me in a custom tux or put me in a suit that’s so beautifully fitted. I look back at pictures of myself from years ago and I go “Whoa, I did NOT know how to pick the size of a suit!” Although oversized stuff was a style in the 90s as well, but there’s nothing like a beautifully fitted suit.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Oh wow! That I sang to the hearts of women and to the minds of men, and that I always encouraged them in love, that’s my musical legacy and purpose. If I can do that, and help somebody by encouraging them in love, then I’ve done what I was supposed to do musically.
Purchase 'The Anatomy of A Love Song' on iTunes!