We recently caught up with Damion Hall of the legendary group Guy for an interview on Instagram Live. During our conversation, we discussed how he originally joined Guy following the release of the debut album. Then we got into his vocal talents and how he put those on display with his solo debut album. Damion gave us the history on how “The Future” album was created and how the guys came back together to record the “Guy III” album. Finally, we got the scoop on if there will ever be another Guy album.
Damion Hall: I was at Virginia State University. My brother came down to the school and told me he was about to be famous. He needed me to be in the group. Before he even came down to the school, the group was started by Timmy Gatling and my brother Aaron Hall. They met and were doing stuff, they worked at a store called Abraham & Strauss. It was like our Macy’s. Timmy knew Teddy from Kids at Work. Teddy, who Timmy brought to the group, Teddy didn’t start the group. Timmy brought Teddy to a session, and Aaron heard him play. Aaron thought it would be dope to have him in the group. So that’s how Teddy got in the group. How I got in the group was when Timmy left the group due to an altercation, Aaron came to get me. I called my dad and told him what Aaron said, and asked if I could leave. He said I could go and help my brother. This was right before finals during my second year at Virginia State. I left and went to New York. I was a church boy, it was nothing hip hop about me. I was that guy. When I went to the studio, I saw Teddy and he was fly. They put a contract in front of me immediately, and wanted me to sign right away! So I signed. It was the beginning of a journey in 1987. The contract was garbage! After I got it back from my attorney, he had asked and hoped I didn’t sign it! Because he knew it was bad. On the album cover it was confusing because it was Timmy, Aaron and Teddy. But my name is on the back but Timmy’s is not! It was troublesome for me. I had to explain it a lot of times.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s talk about your talents a bit. Talk about what you brought to the group. Many know you as crazy legs, but you’re a crazy vocalist just like your brother Aaron.
Damion Hall: When I first got into the group, I was really coming in as Aaron’s brother. I wanted Aaron to be great, whatever that was in his head, I was cool with. As I got into the group, I started realizing wait a minute, it pays to be up front! At first I was the drummer in the back! I had the same outfit on, and everybody thought I was a band member! I had to change it up a bit. I got off of the drums and I moved to percussion at the front of the stage. It was extremely confusing. We were going to mom and pop stores and record stores to promote our records. I’ll never forget when we pulled up to Tower Records and we went inside, it was pictures of Aaron, Timmy and Teddy. They had to change it. It took them an hour and a half to put the new pictures up! Nothing against Timmy, but he wasn’t in the group anymore, I didn’t want people to be confused about who I was. I also became a couple of other things after the drummer. I became the stylist and I designed a lot of the stuff. Dapper Dan did our first stuff. I did about 70% of the creativity after that. Plus I did the video, “Teddy Jam 2” video, “I Wanna Get With You” video, and also did the “Dog Me Out” concept for the remix video. As far as me being a singer, I’ve sung with Aaron in church. When I came into Guy, there was already a set pattern; Aaron was the singer, Teddy was the producer, I was the drummer and the dancer. I was the best dancer in the group. People don’t understand the second album when we did “Let’s Chill”. I was the originally lead singer on that song. It was sung and mastered and ready for the album. The record company MCA, and I didn’t even know, they went back in with Aaron, and he sung the song over. I wasn’t even on the song anymore. Yes I think if I was on that record, because it was such a big record, imagine where my career would be at this point.
YouKnowIGotSoul: When you joined the group and when the first Guy album came out, did you realize how much you were changing the sound of radio almost single handedly?
Damion Hall: No, I came in wide eyed and bushy tailed. I wasn’t even listening to R&B music at the time, I was listening to Gospel. The first big single was “Groove Me”, and it took about 8 or 9 months for that record to grow on radio. It happened so quickly that when it hit, it was really heavy. The world from overseas to domestic went crazy, the sound was so different. When we first did the album, the record company said this album was not going to make it. They didn’t even understand the sound of the record. It was so different. Teddy, Timmy and Aaron did something phenomenal. At the end of the day, that record was really done and created and then Teddy really put his stamp on it. The mindset of that record came from Timmy and Aaron and people don’t understand that. So when it hit, I remember us having 4Runners before anybody had them. We were driving down 57th street going towards 125th street in Harlem. We had these tire covers with art of our faces and the album cover. I’ll never forget we had thousands of cars following us and beeping, people losing it. That’s when I knew, we hit it! I’ll never forget that, it’s such an amazing thing to really hear your record for the first time on radio. It took a minute for us to realize how powerful we really were, because we were still nervous.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Take us into the second album “The Future” and your involvement in that one.
Damion Hall: That was something different. When it came to that album, I ended up becoming a co-writer on a lot of the songs and I also sang on that record. I did most of the backgrounds on that album was well. “Do Me Right”, “Dog Me Out”, everything. I’m a hell of a background vocalist! I wasn’t the lead vocalist of Guy and I didn’t want to be, so I began great at harmonies and backgrounds. I thank Teddy and Aaron for giving me that portal to be that. It ripened me to be great when it came to doing my album and the “Guy III” album.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Tell us about creating your solo album “Straight to the Point”.
Damion Hall: I did a song with Public Announcement. I wrote a song called “Holding On” and it did well on the soundtrack it was on. So when it came to my album, the label wanted me to do a group! Like I did for Public Announcement. I told them I’d rather do a solo album and do my best at that. They reluctantly gave me $350K to do the album. It was almost a joke. I was living in Atlanta and I went to my friend’s studio. I did 16 songs, which I produced and wrote all of them. All by myself. Then I took those records and went to L.A. People didn’t know me as a producer or anything, but I met the great Tricky Stewart. I told him I had some stuff he could really make even sound better. It made what I did even greater. The record was executive produced by Damion Hall, produced by Damion Hall, and 90% was written by me. If that record had went Gold or Platinum, I would have made a ton of money. Nobody thought I could do it. I did only 16 songs and those songs all made the album. When I write or produce anything, I only write what I hear in my head musically, lyrically. I go through it 1 thousand times in my head and I record it. I don’t ever record records just to record. Now people are putting 40 records on an album like Chris Brown. For me, I thank God for Brian McKnight, he did three songs on the album; “Never Enough”, “Second Chance” and “Lost Inside of You”. That’s before he was huge. He forced me to sing! So “Straight to the Point” was the album. It’s on YouTube. My first single was “Satisfy You”. But when you hear the three songs that Brian McKnight did on my album, that is Damion Hall at his best. I was upset at him during the sessions, but I love him because he pushed me.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How did Guy come back together to record the Guy III album?
Damion Hall: It had been 10 years. When we broke up in 1990, we didn’t speak at all! I saw Aaron and he did his solo album and came out with the single “I Miss You”. But we didn’t see Teddy at all! At that time, it was weird. I got a call from Jeff Redd, and he told me he needed me to put the group back together. At that time, I had read for the DL Hughley show and I had three callbacks to get on that show. I really wanted to be on TV and be a star. I love acting more than anything. Jeff Redd was head A&R at MCA Records at that time. I got the call in 1999. He was going to fly me to Virginia Beach. I hadn’t even spoken to Teddy in that whole time. I was there and stayed at a hotel. It was three miles from Teddy’s studio. I was in Virginia Beach for three months before even seeing Teddy! I was working out, my hair grew long, I got big! I didn’t even want to go! I finally got a call from Teddy’s people, and he was ready to see me. The first thing I said to Teddy to break the ice, was let’s go bowling. Bowling was everything to us no matter what! We were talking and he took me to the studio to hear some records. One of the first records he played was “Rescue Me”. It was different for Guy! It was the beginning of getting that brotherly love back. It took me a minute to get Aaron Hall back to Virginia Beach, he wasn’t hearing it. Finally got him down there, but he’d come in and not want to do the session. But that’s how I was able to get on the records. For people who really want to hear how me and Aaron sound on a record, you can go to my solo album to hear the Donny Hathaway “Song for You” remake, and also the Guy III album. People were so into the first two Guy albums that they didn’t want to really give the album the props. But “Dancin” became one of our biggest records on the charts. We didn’t collectively write that album together, so that was the problem, we didn’t put it together like “The Future” album. Other outside writers came in and did songs on the album. I love the album, it’s beautifully produced and sonically great. People heard Damion sing for the first time in Guy and they loved the records. I love them too.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What have you gotten into since the last Guy album?
Damion Hall: Let me start with this. Guy has always been my baby. I kept that brand alive single handedly. When Teddy was doing Blackstreet and Aaron was doing his own thing, I made sure people made sure Guy was still alive and we’d still do it. From 2012-2016 I managed me and my brother and we toured as Guy. We did shows with Teddy and Blackstreet and us. It wasn’t no beef or issues. It was Blackstreet and Guy. That was hard because he’s my brother. Guy in my heart is three people and always will be. At the end of the day, we did different things. It doesn’t mean we hate each other. We grew up. I did Gospel plays and did some songs where I was going to do another solo album. You know how with a girl you can’t shake her? You always come back? That’s what Guy was to me, I couldn’t shake it. Everyone told me to do my own thing. I never did that. I always wanted to make sure that Guy was always there for the fans. Every time I went to do something for myself, I would get right there, and get called back to do Guy. What I’ve been doing is building myself up and keeping myself clear mentally to make sure the brand we started with never dies. I’m still working on another album, and I’ve been working on movie deals.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Will we ever get another album from Guy?
Damion Hall: In my heart yes I believe there will be. People thought Guy was over when we didn’t put out an album for 10 years and we got together again. People thought we were over in 2004 and then we got back together in 2008. Same thing with 2016. For me, the people are bigger than the group. We are three individuals who are great at what we do, but together we are untouchable. The music we did, we changed a sound of music. New Jack Swing. There is not another group who can say they did that. We are the Kings of New Jack Swing. I do believe we will have another Guy record. I think you will hear it in 2021 or 2022. You will definitely get something from Teddy, Aaron is working on some stuff, and I’m also working on an album. When you hear this album, you will love it. You will be shocked. I’m coming hard with this album.