In an industry consumed by the almighty dollar, Musiq Soulchild is just interested in a little bit of change. Today, the singer lays back on a black leather couch, his posture relaxed but his facial expression all business. Designer shades—broad and opaque—shield his eyes from his own hoodie, which is oddly blinged out for a neo-soul crooner. But then again, doesn’t the “neo” imply something fresh and unexpected?
“I have a thing against people being categorized,” Musiq tells Rap-Up.com. “It traps us into thinking we can only dress, act, or be a certain way.” Whatever that way is, Musiq’s fans have been devoted to it for years, finding solace and wisdom in his candid perspective on love. As he preps his sixth album, MusiqInTheMagiq, for a May 3 release, he’s ready to lyrically and socially stretch the boundaries he’s built throughout his career. His first single, “Anything,” raised a few eyebrows because of its uptempo, clubby feel, and a cameo by the effervescent Swizz Beatz.
While the album may steer a bit to the left of what soul enthusiasts would expect, the project is a love letter to his loyal fan base coupled with a side of tight game to attract a few new ears. Rap-Up.com took the time to find the rhyme behind Musiq’s reason, as he shared why he doesn’t like a lady caked in makeup, whose music he works up a sweat to, and what really happened when he fell off stage in New York City.
1. Do you read reviews of your music?
Not all of them. I like to get a general scope of what people are saying, but I allow people around me to get into all of that. I know they’re not going to just tell me anything because they are invested in it as well. My brother, my manager, the record label, they’ll keep it real with me like, “You know what? People aren’t really feeling this record for whatever reason.”
2. Which artist would you like to collaborate with?
Ryan Leslie. I think he is hugely and grossly underrated. He’s one of those rare dudes that do everything and that doesn’t come around often. He does everything and does it well. He writes, sings, plays, makes beats, raps, and he understands the concept of showmanship. Lalah Hathaway is another one. She’s a core audience favorite but she doesn’t get the same popularity as some more exposed artists and that’s a shame.
3. The leading lady in the “Anything” video is pretty dolled up compared to those in some of your past clips. What’s your type of woman?
I don’t really have a type! This was the same conversation we were having when I actually was picking women for the video. I didn’t pick the girl in the video [for "Anything"]. I mean she’s awesome, but I didn’t pick her. I can’t speak in particular; I can only speak in parameters. I would say that I would like for her to be more natural than not. Not that I have anything against weaves and anything like that, but I would prefer more natural because I’m more of a realist. I would prefer less makeup. I would prefer realistic outfits. Everyone doesn’t have the privilege of being glamorous everyday, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not beautiful. And it doesn’t have to be all earthy. That’s the reason why I have a thing against the whole neo-soul [look]. It makes it feel like girls are supposed to be a certain way. There are people who are natural and beautiful who don’t put themselves in a neo-soul category.
4. Do you ever write your own status on Facebook?
I’m not really into the Facebook statuses. I made the mistake of getting personally involved with fans and, surprisingly and unfortunately, that’s not always a pleasant experience because some people just don’t know how to act. I don’t know what their perspective on it is but sometimes they don’t realize that they’re talking to a real person. They feel like they can say whatever they want to an artist. I’m probably as professional as they come but I’m a person too. I am invested.
5. What relationship advice would you give your 17-year-old self?
Wake up from the idealized fantasy that people have been conditioned to expect from romance and intimacy. I think both males and females have this fantastic idea of what relationships are supposed to be and I don’t think it’s a fair assessment of what exactly they’re going to be dealing with. It’s not “meet the person, fall in love, and live happily ever after.” Not to say it’s not possible, but in order for that to happen, there’s a lot of work that needs to be put into it. It’s not fair to get into a relationship with all these expectations. You don’t know what that person has been through. Allow people to be themselves. Wake up and start looking at that person for who they are, not for the person you see them as. Just because it doesn’t happen like it does on TV, doesn’t mean it can’t be good.
6. What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Sports. Soccer. I was just never really athletic. But soccer’s deep. People underestimate it. If I knew I could make it to the World Cup, I’d be like, “Good luck on the music thing, y’all. But uh, you can catch me in Brazil.”
7. Swizz Beatz is teaching a course on production at NYU this semester. If you were teaching a college course as an honorary professor, what would it be?
Soul music appreciation. And not just because of the artists. The expression of soul music itself—understanding what it really means and the possibilities of what you can accomplish with it. The thing about soul music appreciation is that it encompasses everything because everything is soul music. Hip-hop is soul music and so is rock. These are just offshoots and different expressions of it.
8. You recently wrote on Twitter about falling at a concert. How embarrassing was that for you?
That was real. I bruised my side and everything. I actually fell off the stage. It was due to some technical difficulties but I’m OK. I mean falling onstage at a performance in New York? I think it was an intermediate level of embarrassment. But I quickly recovered, gathered myself, and kind of shrugged it off. And everybody was still with me.
9. What do you listen to when you’re working out?
I listen to pretty much everything. But lately, I work out to Janelle Monáe. Her music’s got a lot of energy. “Tightrope” really gets your blood burning.
10. Where do you feel most creative?
Maybe it’s because I spend most of my life in the country, but it’s whenever I’m out of the country. Like if I’m in Japan, out in Tokyo somewhere. I was in South Korea recently. Do you know how when you go to stores, they play pop music? All they play is soul music, like Korean soul music. But it’s undeniably soul music. It’s like listening to Dwele or Jill Scott but it’s Korean. And they’re goin’ hard. It’s fresh and it’s very inspiring.