Q&A: Musiq Soulchild On Love, Marriage, And Growing In The Music Industry
There's a moment after the bridge to Musiq Soulchild's "So Beautiful" that the 33-year-old artist descends, in one phrase, from his effortless, flighty falsetto back into the baritone that made him famous more than 10 years ago. Last Tuesday night at the Highline Ballroom, he took a few steps back, clenched both fists as if to compose himself, and sang, accompanied by his background singers: "Baby don't you know you're so beautiful?"
It marked, perhaps, the first time Musiq appeared truly comfortable that night, a remarkable fact since he was about three-fourths of the way through his show-slash-de facto release party for his sixth album MusiqInTheMagiq. He held the microphone in one hand and looked across the crowd, a swagging soulstar in complete command of his presence and the atmosphere.
Even at shows celebrating recent releases, new material is best mixed with a heavy dose of fan favorites, especially when many members of the standing-room only crowd are wearing high heels. Tuesday's performance was not unlike watching a parent crushing vitamins into their child's food so that they hardly know they're eating something nutritious.
Which is not to suggest that MusiqInTheMagiq is a hard sell. It will probably go down as one of his best two or three albums; the first, Aijuswanaseing, was released in December 2000. And the subject matter of his latest record is decidedly more optimistic; on "SayIDo," Musiq croons, "So let me put it all together/ it's been good let's make it better/ And now forever if it's alright with you." On "Lovecontract," he sings, "Baby I, I'm thinking it's time I/ quit the running around settle down and give my heart to you."
So much for looking for a B.U.D.D.Y.
Musiq sat down to discuss the state of his live show, dish on love and relationships, and explain why he patterns himself after the late, great James Brown.
Your new album is your sixth. Where were you as an individual back in 2000 in comparison to who you are today?
That time period from 2000 and 2001--I was so green, man. I didn't really know that much about the music business or the entertainment industry, and I was still actually leaning a lot about myself as an artist as a vocalist, a songwriter; shit, as a person. So at the time I had a lot whole of ideas that I later found out were misconceptions about the game.
Misconceptions about the game of life or music?
Both (laughs). Life in general. The space in between 2000, 2001 up until now as been a tremendous learning experience, it's been B.S. People ask me, well, is it all that I've expected? Whenever anyone asked me that, I always say yeah and no. It's been what I expected in terms of It's been overwhelming, and [having] access to so many resources and being able to be in the position where you're on a platform presenting yourself and opening yourself up to so many different types of people. No, because all the little intricate stuff that makes everything tick. I couldn't have imagined it. Despite all of that, I can definitely look at everything as a blessing.
Would you agree with the observation that the subject matter of MusiqintheMagiq is a rather optimistic than your material has been in the past?
I am very optimistic. I know that it's particular to love and relationships, but that sense of optimism, you can actually apply that to my entire approach. I'm very optimistic as far as the potential of the type of music that I'm making, and the legacy and traditions of music that I'm contributing to. I'm optimistic about the potential of it, how far it can progress and grow, and how many people will be willing to invest in it and support it. If I'm not optimistic, what does that say about what I'm doing and the purpose that I'm doing it for?