YouKnowIGotSoul caught up with Case to discuss everything from his latest album “The Rose Experience,” to having a new outlook on life after accidentally being shot, to his unforgettable yet embarrassing experience in meeting Michael Jackson.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Let me start by saying I really enjoyed your latest album “The Rose Experience.” You really seem to manage to stay true to your signature sound throughout all of your albums. Is this something you strive for?
Case: You know what’s funny is, I don’t think I have a signature sound, but people always say that! I think what I do more than that is I always try to be honest with my music, and I think that’s the reason why it stays true to it because I stay true to myself. I mean even though I may deviate a little bit and try some new things, it’s always going to be me being myself, so I think that’s the reason why.
YKIGS: To me, I’ve always felt your music has had a realness to it, in that anyone who has the typical up and downs of a relationship can relate. Is this something you always strive for?
Case: What it is, is that when I’m writing songs, or even if someone else is writing songs for me, it has to be something that I can relate to. I’ve always taken the position that if I’m going through something and I’m writing about, then I’m 100% sure I’m not the only person who is going through it. There is going to be a certain amount of people who can relate to what I’m saying. Everything that I write about or sing about is either something I’m going through, I’ve been through, or someone really close to me has been through or is going through.
YKIGS: On “The Rose Experience,” you had the chance to produce most of the album yourself. Tell me how this allowed you to do things differently than on your previous albums?
Case: Actually, I only produced some of it, but I wrote most of it. I usually write most of my albums, but this is the first time I did production. I don’t think it really gave me a chance to do anything too different. What it did was give me a chance to… I’ve had a lot of ideas in my head for the longest, and what it did was it gave me a chance to kinda get those ideas out, and just kinda explore them, because I’ve had them for the longest. I just wasn’t really sure how to do it, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. So when it got around to this album, I just was like “You know what, I’m just gonna go for it.”
YKIGS: I have to say I really like “Let Me Down Easy” from the album and it’s something I’ve really been able to relate to in my life. Can you tell me the process of writing this song?
Case: “Let Me Down Easy,” I wrote that song a very long time ago. That song was supposed to go on my second album in 1998; I wrote that song in 1997. It was really just based on a collection of situations that were going on at the time, and one day I just decided to write about it. As far as making the song, we did about maybe three versions of it when I decided to actually record it, because I had never recorded it until I started this album. We did about three different versions of it, I didn’t like the first one, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like it, and then I tried it again, and I didn’t like that either, and then finally we got the version that ended up going on the album. But again, like I said as far as subject matter, a lot of people can relate to that. A lot of people go through that, you might not hear a lot of guys say it, as far as approaching it from the perspective of “Let Me Down Easy” if things don’t go right, but I mean a lot of people feel that way.
YKIGS: Yea I definitely agree!
YKIGS: Now that you are on an independent record label, what major differences have you found from your time on Def Jam?
Case: The major difference and the reason I wanted to do it in the first place is, at Def Jam, or actually at any label, it’s like you may have your ideas and you may have a vision for yourself and you know what you wanna do, but it has to go through all of the red tape and everybody else has to be on that page or else it’s not going to happen, because at the end of the day, they hold the decision. And the difference is that for the independent, if I have an idea, if I have a concept for an album, if I have a concept for a song, whatever it is that I wanna do I can do it, I don’t have get anybody else on the same page, I just do it. And that’s the biggest thing that I like about it.
YKIGS: Since the release of your album, I’ve read you have been doing some touring. How has that been going?
Case: Oh it’s been good, I just got back from Seattle this past weekend. It’s been going really good. It’s like I never stopped touring, like I was always on the road and doing shows here and there. It’s been going real good, it’s been a good reception. I’m getting ready to start a new album after the New Year actually.
YKIGS: Tell me a little about this new album you are getting ready to work on. Do you have any ideas lined up for that album?
Case: It’s really just in the infant stages. I have a couple of ideas, I have one very good idea I think but I can’t tell you because I don’t want anybody to steal it! It’s a style of music I really like, that actually I’ve liked it since I was young, because I listen to all types of music, from the Beatles to Black Sabbath to Stevie Wonder to Marvin Gaye to Barry Manilow. It’s definitely away from what r&b is, but I’m going to make it r&b.
YKIGS: I noticed you are pretty active on social networking sites such as Myspace and Twitter. What does it mean to you to be able to interact with your fans so easily now?
Case: You know what it’s cool because, I’m not a computer person, quote unquote, so it took me forever to even get a computer. And then it took me forever to even get on social networking sites. Once I did, that was the thing about it that was attractive to me because in the past, I would do albums and the only time I could really interact with people who enjoy my music on a one on one basis was maybe if they see me in the mall, or driving down the street somebody might be like “I like your album” and this and that, or at a show. This way, it’s like constant. Also, the thing I like about it is I can go in the studio and do a song, and immediately put it up on a social networking site and get some type of reaction out of it. Where in the past, the only way to really get the reactions to the music was in concert, which is why I always loved doing concerts. But it definitely helps like that.
YKIGS: That’s actually a concept that has interested me, being able to basically create a song and immediately get fan feedback. Do you think you would ever create an album based on these reactions from fans?
Case: I don’t think I would create one strictly on the fans, because it goes back to the old saying “you can’t please everybody.” I would definitely take it into consideration, the opinion of the fans, but I don’t think you could make an album based strictly on that because there is no way that everybody is going to agree on the same thing. My thing has always been to just make what I’m feeling, and I feel like that if I feel it, then somebody else will feel it. Because you could put a song up on say MySpace or Facebook, you could put a song anywhere and 50% of the people may like it, and the other 50% may not, so where does that leave you? So I think it’s pretty much just going for what you feel and seeing where it goes from there.
YKIGS: What does it mean to you that some would consider the music you have made in the past to be classic r&b and even at times a wedding song?
Case: It’s cool because I remember when I was first starting out, one of the main things people would always ask me in the interviews was “What do you hope to accomplish?” One of the main things that I always, always wanted to accomplish was to make music that people would listen to 10, 15, 20 years from now and still enjoy. That was always one of my main goals in even making music. Probably because me, like I listen to mostly old music, like I very rarely listen to new music. I listen to it here and there, but when I’m really in a mood to listen to music strictly for enjoyment, it’s usually old music. So that was definitely one of my main goals with making music, to make music that would last and stand the test of time, so it makes me feel good.
YKIGS: After you suffered the tragedy of being shot years ago, did you learn anything from that experience or did it make you take a different outlook on life?
Case: Yea it did actually, because it made me realize that no matter what is going on in your life, that at any given moment it could just all be gone, everything could just be over. At that point and even today, I’ve been following this Chris Henry story since last night. It’s crazy, they said he went to buy wedding rings on Tuesday, and then Thursday morning he is dead! It definitely put that in me, that any given time, you can’t take anything for granted. Whether it be the time you spend with your family, or you just can’t take anything for granted because in the blink of an eye it can all be gone. Which we all know that because we’ve all been taught that, but it kinda affects you different when you see it first hand.
YKIGS: Yea, I can definitely see how that would affect you that way.
YKIGS: On a lighter note, through your years as an artist, what would you say is the most fun you’ve had collaborating with another artist?
Case: The most fun that I’ve had collaborating was actually “The Best Man” but it wasn’t because of the artists. The thing with me was that, and I was so excited about it was that, I got to not only meet but work with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, that was incredible to me. So that definitely stands out, I mean I’ve had fun doing all of them, but that one really meant a lot to me because it was Jam and Lewis. And the other one was I did two duets with Charlie Wilson. He was always like an idol of mine from the time I was a little, little kid. We did a duet on his album, and then we did one on my album. It was crazy because he was doing his vocals, and I was in the vocal booth sitting on the floor behind him like a little kid, I felt like a little kid again. We got real close after that, and he called me his son, so that was incredible for me.
YKIGS: Very cool experience, thanks for sharing that.
YKIGS: Are you happy with the state of r&b music today?
Case: I mean I think it had taken a bad turn for awhile, but I think now it is starting to get back on the right track. I definitely think it’s starting to get back on the right track. And that is all you can ask for, as long as it doesn’t stay in a bad place and continues to make progress then I’m cool with it.
YKIGS: You mentioned you don’t really listen to a lot of newer music, but are there any artists you enjoy listening to in music today?
Case: Yea, I like Alicia Keys. I think my favorite new artist would have to be Jazmine Sullivan, I think she is incredible. That would definitely have to be my favorite new artist. I’m a T-Pain fan. I would definitely have to say that my favorite is Jazmine Sullivan.
YKIGS: If you weren’t making music right now, what do you think you would be doing for a career?
Case: Trying to make music! That’s all I ever wanted to do. From the time I was a little, I mean as long as I can remember actually, that’s all I wanted to do. I could sing before I could talk. You know what’s crazy is my daughter is the same way, she sang before she could talk, and all she wants to be is a singer and a dancer.
YKIGS: How long do you plan to keep recording music and do you have plans for once you are done in a career in music?
Case: Nah you know what, I’m just going to keep recording it as long as I still love it and as long it’s still my passion. I think, I mean actually I’m sure that even if I wasn’t recording and putting out albums for sale, instead just kicking back and relaxing and just spending time with the family and all of that, I would still record music just to do it. You know it’s just because I love to do it.
YKIGS: Tell me one experience you’ve had while in the music industry that you will never forget?
Case: Wow, it’s been a few. Definitely the two stories I told you about. Meeting Stevie Wonder was incredible to me. I met Michael Jackson that was embarrassing actually.
YKIGS: *Laughs* Oh really, why was that?
Case: Because I was the hugest Michael Jackson fan as a kid. To this day when I run into family I haven’t seen in years, like at family reunions, the first thing they say is “You still think you Michael Jackson? You still do the robot like Michael Jackson?” I was just a Michael Jackson fanatic, and when I met him I couldn’t talk which was very embarrassing! And I’m trying to, but nothing would come out. Yea, that was crazy. And Stevie Wonder too, it was just incredible.
YKIGS: Do you have any goals for the future as an artist or just in any aspect of life?
Case: Nah, I just really wanna just keeping making music, just keep being honest with music, and just make music that I enjoy and that I think my fans would enjoy. Other than that, that’s just my plans right now, I’m not really planning too much ahead past that. Especially now since I’m getting ready to start this album, I’ve started to get tunnel vision, you know?