Archive for October, 2008

Tony Rich

Date of Interview: 10/30/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

It is rare to find a talent that can write, produce and perform every note on their albums.  And for this very reason, Tony Rich has developed a cult-like following of fans over the past decade, who respect and appreciate his masterful blending of soul, jazz and funk.

Although many know Tony Rich for his GRAMMY-winning debut, Words (1995), his later works (Birdseye, Resurrected and Pictures) were greeted with less commercial fanfare.  And while such a setback would derail the career of most artists, Rich stayed true to his craft—eventually finding a home at Hidden Beach Records, a refuge for artists with unique talents.  On September 23, 2008, he released his fifth album, Exist.

Ultimately, for Rich, a musician’s artistic integrity is something that should never be compromised.  And through thick and thin, Tony Rich’s rugged determinism and incessant persistence have blazed a trail that few other artists are willing to travel.  In the end, time will tell if his contemporaries can match his longevity in the ever-changing musical landscape.

Upon review of Exist, Tony Rich managed to find time in his busy schedule to settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Prince, religion and the current state of R&B.



Raphael Saadiq

Date of Interview: 10/28/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

With all things considered, Raphael Saadiq is the thread that has weaved the fabric of contemporary soul music together.

His midas touch has turned the careers of countless “soul sisters”—Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige—and “soul brothers”—John Legend, Musiq Soulchild and D’Angelo—into gold.  And while his artistic resume is largely unknown by the masses, such high-profile collaborations expose a mere fraction of Saadiq’s musical contributions.

After a successful decade as a member of Tony! Toni! Toné! and R&B’s pioneering supergroup, Lucy Pearl, Saadiq launched a solo career in 2002 with the release of Instant Vintage.  His refreshing “gospedelic” mix of soul eventually earned him five GRAMMY nominations—a first for an artist who lacked a major record label deal.  In 2004, Saadiq released his highly-anticipated follow-up, Ray Ray.

The Way I See It (2008) continues Saadiq’s life-long tribute to “old-school” music.  Upon review of the album, Raphael Saadiq managed to find time in his busy schedule to settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on “neo-soul,” Kanye West and the current state of R&B.



Date of Interview: 10/23/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

Akon is a shining example of a man determined to keep his past from dictating his future.  Although a convicted felon, he has found his artistic freedom in the world of music, even in the face of controversy.  Since 2004, Akon has sold 7 million albums worldwide and served as a featured guest on more than 150 singles, including “Bartender,” his GRAMMY-nominated performance with protégé T-Pain.

With the success of “Smack That” (featuring Eminem) and “I Wanna Love You” (featuring Snoop Dogg) in 2006, Akon became the third artist in music history to hold the top two spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart simultaneously.  The following year, he would join a league of his own, with the chart-topping success of “Don’t Matter” and Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape.” To date, he is the only artist to accomplish this feat twice.

Upon review of Freedom, Akon managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on “Locked Up,” Mother Africa and the media’s portrayal of the Konvict brand.


Labelle (Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx and Patti LaBelle)

Date of Interview: 10/17/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

Before Destiny’s Child called on men to “say [their] name” or TLC announced their distaste for “scrubs,” Labelle exemplified the true meaning of “independent women.”

Unquestionably, every contemporary female R&B trio has been influenced by their style—whether they know it or not—and a cursory listen to Labelle’s catalog reveals a smorgasbord of musical gems, which have served as inspiration for 702, SWV, Total and Brownstone.  As with all things, history reveals the mark of the present.

By current standards, Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx and Patti LaBelle enjoyed a limited amount of commercial success.  Nonetheless, Labelle’s impact on the music industry is completely immeasurable.  Upon review of Back to Now, Labelle managed to squeeze some time out of their busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Barack Obama, industry politics and “Lady Marmalade.”


Michelle Williams (of Destiny's Child)

Date of Interview: 10/06/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

Michelle Williams is best-known for being one-third of Destiny’s Child, the best-selling female group of all-time.  In the midst of Destiny’s Child’s disbandment, however, Williams has also had a successful acting career on the Broadway stage, as Shug Avery in The Color Purple and the title role of Aida.  Even so, singing still remains Williams’ primary focus.

With two successful gospel albums in her catalog, the dance-pop direction on Williams’ third album may come across as a striking deviation from her previous solo outings.  But at the age of 28, lest we forget, Michelle Williams is poised to capitalize on her youthful essence.  And why not?  History has shown that she has what it takes.

Upon review of Unexpected, Michelle Williams managed to squeeze some time out of her busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Rico Love, Destiny’s Child and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


Eric Benét

Date of Interview: 10/03/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

Over the past decade, the R&B landscape has completely changed, especially amongst the field of male performers.  One by one, as Fate would have it, a once-vast crop of classic R&B crooners had their careers ended, due to artistic and economic pressures fueled by the 90’s hip-hop juggernaut.  In the face of such challenges, however, Eric Benét weathered the industry’s burgeoning “cultural storm” and stayed true to himself and the music he chose to create.

His fourth album, Love & Life, pays homage to glory days of classic R&B and, without much publicity, his work has been rewarded by R&B junkies across the country.  The album’s lead single, “You’re The Only One,” reached the number-one spot on urban AC radio and brought widespread attention to a career—and musical style—that had been written off as having already seen its best days.

Upon review of Love & Life, Eric Benét managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on fatherhood, the shelving of Better & Better and the current state of R&B.


Nina Sky

Date of Interview: 10/02/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

In 2004, at the height of the reggaeton movement, Nina Sky stormed up Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart—peaking at #4 with the international smash “Move Ya Body.”  Although fame, fortune and success came quickly, the sisters spent the past four years out of the spotlight, so that they could craft an album that would fully express their diverse, genre-defying style.  In 2009, the duo will invite the world to enjoy The Musical: Nicole and Natalie Albino—raw and uncensored.

In many ways, The Musical serves as a fresh start for Nina Sky.  Since their departure from Universal Records, the two have found a home at J Records.  In the wake of The Musical’s release, Nicole and Natalie Albino managed to squeeze some time out of their busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Madonna, sisterhood and the reggaeton movement.