Since the creation of YouKnowIGotSoul.com over eight years ago, there are very few of our favorite r&b artists from years past left who we’ve not seen an album from. With the release of Ruff Endz return album “Soul Brothers”, we can cross another off of the list. The duo made up of David Chance and Dante Jordan had not release an album since “Someone to Love You” in 2002, and eventually split up for good. In recent years, there didn’t seem to be much hope that they’d ever get back together, but tragedy in their home city of Baltimore made that possible. “Soul Brothers” is exactly what we’ve been waiting for, an album that reaches back to their original sound and feels like they’ve picked up right where they left off. YouKnowIGotSoul caught up with Ruff Endz for an interview and discussed the new album, what led to the reunion, recording together again, coming together for Baltimore, and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Congratulations on the release of your new album “Soul Brothers”. R&b fans are certainly excited to have you back after so long. Tell us a bit about this new album.
Ruff Endz (Dante Jordan): This album means a lot to us. This is something that we did entirely Ruff Endz. We really didn’t have any outside influences on this album. It was definitely I can say this is a “Dave and Brown” album, which was our name before we had a name. To tie back into “Soul Brothers”, this is everything coming back around full circle. This album is definitely dear to us, dear to a lot of our true sound and creativity. My brother David, I’ve always really pushed him to show more of his talents because he comes from a very talented musical family. I grew up being around them doing harmonies and playing instruments, it was like a movie. So we really got a chance to do acoustic sounds on this album where he’s playing the guitar, still staying true to a little bit of our hip hop edge, from like “No More” and “Don’t Leave”. Still staying true to something we’ve always loved, which is uplifting women and doing positive music. The album is rated “P” for positive. We wanted to be certain this is an album we can play for different audiences, whether it’s my mother or daughter. We both have kids now. This album was created very purposeful, thinking about the power of having an audience that’s going to be influenced by our music.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What led to the point where you guys got back into the studio? You had such a big impact on r&b in the early 2000’s, but what led to you guys getting back together to do a new album?
Ruff Endz (David Chance): We’re from the city of Baltimore, Charm City as they say, but we say B’More, and a lot was happening in our city. I don’t know if you remember Freddie Gray, well that happened here in Baltimore and it caused an uprising. Our city was in turmoil, and I was working on an independent film project at the time. I was away for part of when the riots were happening. My sisters and my brothers went down to Pennsylvania Avenue where they burned down the CVS and they were just helping and being a light in a dark situation. There was a lot of anger and people were upset. Me and Dante really wanted to be a part and do something to play a role in what was going on in our city. We just connected one time, it was crazy how it happened. We connected by mistake. I actually drove by him and didn’t even realize it was him. I just stopped the car and walked right up on him. It was just a weird crazy set of steps that brought us back together. Long story short, our city was in turmoil and there was a lot of emotion, so we wrote a song called “Time 4 Change”, just as our expression. That is really the beginning of our new album, but a friendship that was lost.
YouKnowIGotSoul: One of the most appealing things about this new album is you have the vintage Ruff Endz sound on here. What drew you back to tapping into your roots as opposed to following trends like some of your peers?
Ruff Endz (David Chance): I’m sure all of us have heard the conversations on social media. Someone posts something about 90’s r&b and missing that sound. I’ve heard those conversations; we heard them overseas as well. We wanted to really make an album that was specific to those people. We’re independent and didn’t make an album for radio. Usually artists make an album thinking about a single being played at radio. We thought about all of the conversations we saw online that we were actually a part of as well, of people talking about that classic sound. That was really the forte of this project, to really emphasize that era of music and bring a certain sound and real singing. Bringing those old school r&b elements back to the mainstream.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What was it like being back in the studio together making this album after so long?
Ruff Endz (Dante): It’s always a great feeling. It’s like riding a bicycle, you never lose certain things. At the same time, the evolution of music has come to a certain point where it’s easier to record, it’s not the same major studio, analog recording. We’ve been in the game for a minute now, so everything is digital and more compact now. Just the feeling of recording now with a purpose of doing a new project, the feeling to be back at that point is real nostalgic for us.
Listen to the audio above to hear the rest of the interview