Over the past decade, Musiq Soulchild has given us one of the most complete bodies of work r&b has seen, spanning six albums and countless hits. That being said, it might surprise you to know we still haven’t got the best he has to offer yet! On each album, he hasn’t always been able to let his personal writing and production talents shine, often times conceding to outside producers who helped him create. However, if he has his way, all that will soon change going forward. Now taking on a more aggressive approach towards the creation of his music as well as seeking out work with other artists, music fans may soon see another element of this multi-talented soul legend. We sat down with Musiq prior to a recent show in NYC and discussed with him his plans to control his music in the future, writing and producing for himself and other artists, his innovative website project he plans to launch, if he’s satisfied with his legacy, and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your last album came out in 2011, in 2012 you released your first book. What does 2013 have in store for Musiq?
Musiq Soulchild: A few things. Right now I’m working on a personal project, I’m working on a website to represent a platform to introduce different parts of my creativity. I like to call them my alter personas. They all have musical associations with them. I just find that there’s a lot of people that listen to music but they don’t listen to the same music. Everybody doesn’t listen to r&b. Even in the r&b world, we like to believe that everybody listens, but everybody doesn’t listen to r&b. Everybody likes to listen to the type of music that they like to listen to. I’m the kind of person, I would much rather find out what type of music you’d like to listen to and give you that. Whether it’s hip hop, whether it’s jazz, whether it’s any other genre of music that’s out there. I listen to all types of music. I’m entertained by all types of music and I know other people are. I study music. I want to be able to make music that people like to listen to. You like listening to reggae? I’d much rather make reggae music for you rather than try to force a person who listens to reggae music to listen to my music. You might dig it, you might not, but I know you’re going to like reggae, so I want to give you what you like.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You just want to make music lovers happy.
Musiq Soulchild: Right. All that trying to beat people upside the head and try to force you to like some stuff, I’m not interested in that. I don’t want anybody to do that to me either. That’s what that website is supposed to represent. It’s not just something that I’m doing to be creative. It’s something that I’m doing, like business wise, I think it’s a good business wise too because it opens up opportunities for me to entertain different demographics.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I’ve also heard you’ve been interested in writing and producing for other artists as well. Have you gotten into that recently?
Musiq Soulchild: Yea, I’ve always been interested in writing and producing for other artists. I’ve written and produced for a few people I know personally; Chrisette Michele, Avery Sunshine, Choklate. It’s a few people and other people I’m working with that I’m kind of keeping to myself until it comes out. I’m always there to write and produce for other people. I just don’t think I’ve been given that opportunity because things have been set up a certain way. That type of traffic didn’t come my way, I had people sort of blocking it because they wanted that opportunity. Now I’m actually taking a more proactive role in seeking that type of work from people just to let them know that I am available for that. I don’t think a lot of people understood that it was the case. A lot of people thought that I get my stuff from other people, which I did and I don’t have a problem with that. I’m also a writer and I’m also a music producer as well.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Looking at things from the other side as well, on your albums you haven’t always had the chance to write your own songs.
Musiq Soulchild: Well I have, but those songs haven’t got picked. *Laughs* There’s a difference.
YouKnowIGotSoul: But take a song like “Half Crazy” for example. How have you been able to take it and make it your own and put the emotion into it.
Musiq Soulchild: Well at the end of the day, I’m not going to do anything that I don’t feel compelled to. At the end of it all, whether I wrote it or not, I know that people could be entertained by it. If I’m going to do it, I’m not going to half do it because I didn’t write it. It’s not about the fact that I wrote it or produced it. If it’s a message that I know that people can benefit from, then I’m just happy being a part of it. That’s just me and my personal self. When it comes to me and my professional self, it works out better for me if I do write it or produce it. I’m going to be a little more aggressive with that in the future.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know there were some rumors, which were 100% false, that you were retiring from music. Say you were to retire now and you looked back at your career, would you be satisfied?
Musiq Soulchild: I can’t say that I would be satisfied. I would be honored and grateful and definitely appreciate all of the accomplishments that I have been able to accomplish so far. But I can’t say I would be satisfied because I don’t really feel like I’ve gotten started yet. I don’t feel like I’ve given my best yet. I have definitely done my best with what I was doing. However I don’t feel like I’ve done my best yet. I am not saying that I don’t feel like I would be satisfied simply because of how I personally feel about it. I don’t think I would be satisfied because people wouldn’t have gotten the best that I could have given you. There’s a lot that I would like to do and give that I don’t know all right now. But I do know I have the passion for it and I’m willing to do whatever it takes in order to get it to you guys. Whatever it is because I always want to represent that inspiration. I want people to see what I do and hear what I do and be inspired by it. I don’t feel like I’ve really tapped into that really and I want an opportunity to do that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How do you choose the producers you work with on each album because I know Carvin & Ivan have been there throughout your career and Jerry Wonda took over a lot of your last album.
Musiq Soulchild: I didn’t choose those. They were label choices. I chose to concede to it because I’m a team player. I don’t have to run everything I’m already getting the attention so why not extend an invitation for other people to be a part of the whole mission. People that I’ve worked with, I have respect for them and I think they’re good at what they do. However at the end of the day, just as well as they can do those things, I can do those things as well. For so long I’ve been living in the shadow of other writers and producers that I’ve never had an opportunity to get people to understand that this is something I do as well. It’s never really been a trip for me. I don’t have a big ego where you guys have to need to know what I do. That’s never been my thing, however it’s really been to a fault because it robbed me of a certain level of credibility that I never ever sought after but it’s important that I do get that because that determines how people deal with me professionally. I learned that the hard way and I’m like well “I can do these things.” And they’re like “The record doesn’t show that” and it’s because I let a lot of stuff go in the name of being a team player and making progress. Now i get it, this is a hustle. It’s like “Alright I got it now.”
YouKnowIGotSoul: Being a team player seems to have worked out for your career though.
Musiq Soulchild: It has. It definitely has. I’m definitely not ashamed and I’m very proud of everything I’ve done. I don’t regret anything, however with what I’ve learned about how stuff works in the background that you guys aren’t privileged to know about all the time. For the sake of my business, I need to operate in a different way. Not so much in a way where it’ll impact the integrity of what you guys get. If anything, it’ll enhance it and get you more. It’s just a frustrating thing when you get people coming up to you like “Yeah I got the last album but you could have done better.” I’m like “I know” but I had my hands tied. Now I need to not allow that to be an obstacle anymore. It’s surreal.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you want to add on?
Musiq Soulchild: You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I’m posting a new website soon and the name of it. I’m going to start a fan club so you can actually subscribe to it and I’m going to work on certain perks for people who support it. I would just want for people to support the process. I’m an artist and I’m very sensitive about my shit, but my whole point is to entertain you guys and it’s all out of love.