Gino DePinto, AOL Music Eric Benet has a song with 2 Chainz. Yes, you read…
- Posted on Aug 24th 2011 2:00PM by Dan Reilly
How are you feeling about 'Black and White America'?
I'm really satisfied with this album. It was really fun making it. It's been an amazing couple of years. I worked on it for two years, off and on. I would go on tour, come back, do other things, come back. I had other projects, but it was the better part of two years that I was in the Bahamas recording it.
It's a pretty diverse group of songs.
Yeah, the album is all over the place, which is what I love. All my albums are like that. I have a very hard time and I've never accomplished making an album where it had one sound throughout. It's just not my thing. After I've gone left I've wanted to go right.
What made you go in the funkier direction on the title track?
I've always been a funk player, really. And it just felt right. I felt like a lot of the music that I grew up listening to in junior high and high school, which is more funk-oriented music, was coming out of me, and it just went in that direction. It's not something that I thought about. It just went there on its own. If I plan to do something on an album, I'll end up going the opposite way. It never works out to say, "OK, this is what I'm doing. This is the album I'm going to make." It doesn't work that way.
You idolize a lot of '70s funk acts. Did that time period influence the album?
Well, I mean, somewhat, but really what inspired it was it's who I am and where I come from. It's also where we are today. The country is moving forward by having an African-American President and also at the same time we're moving back because of the change. People want their so-called America back, and I was watching a documentary that was about these people who were not for the change and did not believe that this was America anymore and would go to any length to take it away. It was full of hatred and anger and it really shocked me, watching these people speak this way, down to statements like they would make sure the President was murdered. Just all kinds of really horrible things. That's what influenced the song.
It's amazing how much has changed and how much hasn't.
The surface has changed and things have changed, but it's still right there. Obviously, it's not the way it was but we still have a long way to go. This is part of the process. What's beautiful is that you have children who are young now -- this is what they know and it's beautiful. With every generation, it should get better.
Do you remember your parents dealing with it?
I remember from stories I was told when I was older of how they were yelled at on the street and how they would say rude things and so forth and so on, but I didn't deal with it as a child. I had a very great childhood and it was filled with people of all colors and it was never an issue in my world.
As a younger musician, did you experience any prejudice?
Oh yeah. They would say my music wasn't black enough or wasn't white enough or this or that, or, "Why don't you play this kind of music because that's what black artists play?" and all kings of ridiculous things like that. And that was 1989.
Do you still experience it?
It still happens. People, they won't realize what they're saying, but they'll say, "Oh, that's too funky for this," or, "That song has horns in it. Our radio station doesn't play horns." What does that really mean when you break it down? It's got a little too much soul. But whatever. People have their ways, and they have their formats, and I make the music that I make and whatever happens with it happens.
Your daughter seems like she's very down to earth. How often do you guys discuss your careers and dealing with fame?
We don't really talk about that. She had a great upbringing, and she saw all this by growing up around me, and so you have to be confident at a certain point of what you've shown your child, and that you've given them the information that they need. She's got a really good head on her shoulders. She's a very smart person.
Has she given you any acting pointers?
Me? No. But if I need 'em, I can get 'em.
I was probably 7 years old in that picture. It was taken in my schoolyard. I was looking through old photos and trying to figure out my album cover – I wasn't looking for my album cover, I was going to take a picture and saw that photo and it just popped out.
Does it bring back memories?
Oh yeah, just that whole time in New York, which is what I'm talking about in that song, 'Black and White America,' so it just really fit. And just the fact that I had love and peace written on me with the peace sign on my head, it just really shows that I have always been that way.
The message hasn't changed for you.
No, not at all.