Robin Thicke: Higher
Soul music fans probably thought they were fantasizing last week when they heard that Thicke and Mary J Blige had teamed up on the remix for Magic, the super-jazzy lead single from Robins third album, Something Else (September 30). His CD before that, The Evolution of Robin Thicke, which featured the hit Lost Without U, was a monster that catapulted the 31-year-old L.A. native to the top of the U.S. R&B album charts, the first time thats happened for a white guy since George Michael in 88. Here, the blue-eyed soul man touches on race, but he goes into depth about gaining self-confidence, touring with MJB and beating you in basketball.
HipHopDX: Is R&B in good shape?
Robin Thicke: I think music is in good shape because there are so many opportunities. If you have something hot, youll be able to get it to people. I think thats a great thing. If youre better than everybody else and you put your stuff on the Internet and you spread your tape around, its going to happen for you, know what I mean? I think thats a good thing. As far as R&B, I think its hard to call it R&B cause theres not much blues in it. Everybody got the car they want, the girl they want, the champagne bottle they want. Theres not so much Blues in it anymore.
DX: So, what would you call it?
RT: Id just call it Soul music and just let it cover the whole thing. If youre coming from the soul and youre making soulful music, we know what that is. I see myself more as a soul artist than an R&B singer.
DX: The Lil Wayne song Shooter wasnt your first time working with a Hip Hop artist, was it?
RT: Actually, around the same time, I had worked with Pharrell. We had done Wanna Love U Girl together. And when I did my first album and had long hair, I did a remix with Jadakiss. Busta Rhymes [also] hopped on a remix I did. So, the Lil Wayne song wasnt the very first [Hip Hop mesh]. But what he did was take a song from my first album. He ended up being the first cause he went backwards. He took the first song.
DX: Can you explain this chemistry that you seem to have with Hip Hop?
RT: Well, I think that the reality is just that I love Hip Hop. I grew up on Hip Hop. Ive listening to it and singing Hip Hop [for a long time]. I remember running across some guy that knew me when I was, like, 14. He was like, Im happy to see you do well. I remember when I saw you when you were 14 and I said, You can be a pop singer. I said, Man, Im a Hip Hop singer. When I was a kid, I thought I was a Hip Hop singer. Its funny how I grew up. Thats just the music thats all up in my soul, ya know?
DX: Growing up, was it the typical Motown stuff being played in the house or was it something else?
RT: Well, my mom (vocalist Gloria Loring) was listening to Aretha [Franklin], Stevie [Wonder] and Luther [Vandross]. My dad (Growing Pains Alan Thicke) was listening to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. And I was listening to N.W.A. So, somewhere in between is where I came out.
DX: Thats an interesting mix there.
RT: Yeah, but thats music for you.
DX: Why havent more non-blacks thrived in the soul music genre?
RT: I dont really know. Thats not for me to decide. I think it really just comes down to the individual, you know? Its not really about a group of people or a generation. Some times its 10 people doing things. Some times its just one. Who knows how those times will turn, you know?
DX: Something Else is your third album. Are things progressing at the speed you originally expected them to?
RT: Everything is going great now. I think I just needed to have a hit record and then I could get the confidence from the labels and the radio stations and my self-confidence. Now things are moving at the pace that theyre supposed to. Obviously before that, the biggest reason things didnt move for me was because I was afraid. I would sit at home, waiting for something to happen or waiting for someone to say something to me opposed to me going out and taking it for myself. Then, once I started taking it for myself, other doors started to open.
DX: What helped you to start taking charge of things?
RT: Well, what I think happened was I was writing songs for other people for a long time because I was afraid to go out there for myself and be judged. Then I saw that the people I was writing songs for were all over the charts. I was like, If the only reason Im not out there is because Im afraid, thats not a good enough reason. So, I started devoting all of my time to my own music when I was about 23. I met Andre Harrell around the same time. He took me back up to Interscope Records, where I was signed when I was 16 with Jimmy Iovine. From there, things started to happen for me. It slowed down for a little bit and I had to write some more great songs and try to pick myself out of it. Luckily, I did.
DX: What are you most proud of with this new project?
RT: Really, pride is not something I have for my music. I just enjoy listening back to it. I feel that theres something on the CD that you cant get anywhere else.
DX: Who challenges you right now in terms of Soul music?
RT: Really, Lil Wayne is the only one challenging me. He just keeps trying to do new things. Hes so versatile and unpredictable. A lot of us get caught in doing things one way, but hes so unpredictable. Its inspiring. Im really watching Lil Wayne oh, and Heath Ledgers performance in The Dark Knight. You didnt want him to ever leave the screen. I couldve just watched two hours of The Joker. They couldve just called that movie The Joker. I wouldve been equally happy.
DX: Ive read that were collaborations on Something Else but I also read that there werent. Can you confirm either way?
RT: No, there are no collaborations as of now, but we cant give away all of our secrets these days.
DX: Whats the secret you and your wife, actress Paula Patton, have for staying out of those rumor-filled glossy magazines?
RT: Weve just been lucky so far. But who knows? They could throw you in there anytime about anything. We cant live our lives around that.
DX: Besides harmonizing to the ladies, whats one other thing that you do better than most people?
RT: I play basketball pretty good. I can ball pretty good. I can definitely ball. What else? I guess Im a good writer. I wrote a screenplay. I love to always challenge myself to always create something new. I wrote a screenplay and a poetry book. Im always trying to write.
DX: Do you plan to pursue getting this screenplay into somebodys hands?
RT: Oh, definitely. Im working on it with the William Morris Agency. Theyre excited. Its like a spy/thriller kind of thing. Its cool. Its exciting.
DX: If you could look to the future and play out the next year or so, what things do you hope to achieve?
RT: Luckily, I have this Mary J Blige remix on Magic that we just finished a few nights ago. She and I are going on tour together, starting September 17. The albums coming out September 30, so we can set it up right. After that, Im blessed to go overseas. Out there, the record is doing pretty good. Then Ill come back and do my own tour, so I can have my own night with the fans. Its really just about doing the work and enjoying it.