Welcome to the Black Rose Universe
I am sure you all have heard and read many of the stories on the internet which speak about the comments made by Tyrese Gibson related to mainstream radio and how there is some imbalance (shall I say). Well I had an opportunity to interview Tyrese and heard first hand his perspective of the situation. It was an open and honest dialogue about the R&B soul, mainstream radio, and the music industry. Below is a statement and questions/answers from the call. Welcome to the Black Rose Universe.
Statement from Tyrese
I feel like R&B is very insecure right now, we feel like if we don’t have 15 rappers on our songs then we don’t get attention. If we not dropping a twerk watch me drop, do the nay nay as R&B singers, we not going to get any love or attention. Back in the day, there was no Marvin Gaye featuring Curtis Blow. Nor was it Luther Vandross featuring Run DMC or Donnie Hathaway featuring the Sugar Hill Gang. It was always a pure R&B soul album and everything is now changed. I personally cannot relate emotionally to most the song played on the radio today, nor can he relate to the state of R&B. It feels like R&B is near extinction, it’s not even televised at the Grammy’s. Feels like R&B doesn’t matter.
My heart and soul are floating above the clouds. This is due to the energy and love around the Black Rose album. It took three and a half years of working on the album. The album means much more than the numbers. However, this album is the first Top 200 R&B album of his career (#1 in 15 country’s; #1 on 9 different charts in the US), the success around this album is sending the right message. The statement is – R&B still has fans and it is not dead. There are still lovers and lover makers out here. Being #1 on all these charts makes me feel like I am on the top of a mountain with a bullhorn saying we are here, we still do exist, and we are no longer putting up with the antics and the bullshit that has put R&B in the backseat. Some of the antics are reach.
So are you telling me that with my album right now – Black Rose – being #1 for two weeks in the row on Billboard and my song Shame is now #1 on Billboard? Are you telling me that it is only going to live on black radio because I am black? Are you kidding me right now? In 2015, are we doing this? At the end of the day, there are many different forms of racism, boundaries, and limits. I don’t have jealous bone in my body. I have never been competitive. I am not insecure or threatened by any ones success. I don’t want any ones records, cars, or women. I want my own. I don’t create limits for myself and I don’t appreciate if someone tries to create a limit for me. If Robin Thicke, Sam Smith, and Justin Timberlake are specifically singing R&B soul, why is it being play on Top 40, Mainstream, Rhythmic, Urban AC and Urban Mainstream radio? Why, because we actually love it. You are singing your ass off Sam Smith, Robin Thicke, and Justin Timberlake. You’re singing R&B soul. You fly, you swaged out and you talented as hell. You supposed to be played on the radio. We cannot say that because you are white that you should only be played on white stations. What type of modern day racism is that?
You can’t tell me that when white people sing R&B soul that’s when you are going to play it on mainstream radio because that is unacceptable and it is not fair. My music is not just for black people. My music is for everybody. My music has no sexual preferences or no racial boundaries. I don’t play that game. For me, people with try to minimize my words and my feelings as a rant, like I am an angry black man. Don’t diminish my points. Don’t diminish my feelings. Don’t try to create distractions. I am very clear, I am very articulate, and I am very specific. When I wrote that open letter to Ryan Seacrest and Elvis Duran from Z100, it was not about them. It was me simply asking them a question – why are you playing white artist when they are singing R&B soul and I was #1 for 11 weeks. Now I have another #1 song – Shame, featuring Jennifer Hudson.
Why don’t we have the opportunity to have our song, which is the #1 song on Billboard, to get a bigger audience or reach? I did close to 90K records sold the first week. Imagine if urban radio was playing my music, along with mainstream, I would probably be at 450K sold the first week. You can’t tell me that having over $6 billion dollars in the box office is me as a black man only being supported by black people because that is not the truth. I don’t want mainstream radio to play my song because I am black and I sing R&B soul. I want them to play my song because it is a hit. You will never be able to buy, support, or get behind anything that you do not know exists.
Questions & Answers
Question – What do you attribute to the success of the album?
You have to move and operate from a place of confidence. Pride and ego are the #1 relationship friendship, marriage killer. So many people don’t want to come off as thirsty. So many people don’t want to come off like they are begging or pressing people to support them. I don’t care about none of that, that shit is out the door. I want your support, I need your support. I am not going to be successful if you don’t show up and help me to make a statement. I think there are a lot of things we can do as artist to sell out shit, but people just don’t do it.
Question – You created a short film for Shame. Why was there so much focus on this song? Any of the songs on the album could be a short film.
Shame to me was a bonifide hit from the moment I heard it. The song was written by a gentlemen named DJ Rogers Jr and produced by Warren Campbell. The energy around the song, I was going through everything right before I got the song (talk about the relationship). I thought the song had the proper message. The song represented the energy of the Black Rose album that I needed. I thought it would be a huge anchor to draw attention to the overall album because without a hit no one is going to be interested in your album. The success of the album is a true testament that following your gut, following your vision can lead to success.
Question – Who is your favorite artist that you listen to and who inspires you?
Honestly, it is very hard for me to listen to anything new. Although I am well aware of all the new R&B soldiers, I am aware of all the rappers that sing. When it comes to me chilling, I am kind of an old soul that doesn’t really listen to today’s R&B. That is way my album feels the way that it feels because I didn’t want to sing anything that feels like today. I wanted everything about this album to be irrelevant. I wasn’t interested into tapping into today’s R&B. I wanted to go back to, what I know of R&B – a feeling that I grew up with.
Question – What made you want to share your listening party with your audience?
This is like the 3rd time of me doing this (an online listening party). Everyone will not be able to make it to a listening party. Why not film it and just introduce the back story, invite people in to be a part of an experience. I came up with that concept myself.
Question – What made you chose Black Rose to be your last solo album?
I had the title for like five years, maybe even seven years. I was just always attracted to that title. It goes back to Tupac who had a poem about a rose that grew through concrete. I always felt that I was a Black rose that grew through concrete (South Central LA). You have to dream beyond your reality and not allow for the area that you grew up in take over your life. We were born individuals. If you decide that you want bigger and better things for your life, then things can happen.
Question – Do you think record label relationships with radio stations influence what artist gets played?
I don’t want to speak on that aspect of the game. That is one of the things that happen in the industry and a lot of people just don’t talk about. Listen, I am not paying for anything. I don’t want to play that game (I don’t play that game). You can pay to get a song played but it doesn’t mean that the fans are going to love it. You cannot purchase a feeling it is either there or it’s not (they love Shame, and they love the Black Rose album). It’s not about the majors versus the independents. We are dealing with a mind state of mainstream radio. Why are you playing R&B soul only when white people are singing it? I don’t want to be played on country or house or techno stations. If you are playing R&B soul when white people sing it, then you are also supposed to be playing it when it is a hit R&B song being sung by other people as well. Fair is Fair. If you are a Latino singing R&B soul, then play the mother fucking song.
Question – How can mainstream radio not play R&B soul when Black sing it be changed?
They can understand the point I am trying to make and I may not reap the benefits of this. I feel like I am the Martin Luther King of R&B trying to take down the walls so everyone that is behind me can benefit from it. I am catching a lot of the heat, people saying it is a rant and that I am using the race card. I want the opportunity to sell as many albums as I can. I want the opportunity for people who love R&B soul music to hear my song, hear my music and be like wholly shit this made my life better.
Question – Are you going to do an international tour for the 15 countries for where the song is #1?
As of right now, I am not going to tour domestically in the US. I have a couple of shows coming up but I am not doing a tour for Black Rose. I got 50/50 joint and legal custody of my daughter (pick-ups and drop offs are real). If I don’t have enough sponsorship in place, it is not really worth it financially. I am a business man first. If I do a tour, there has to be a lot of sponsorship. People I would be interested in touring with are: Jamie Foxx or Maxwell.
Question – You not creating boundaries and with this being your last solo album, do you believe that there is someone already in the industry who can carry this torch so we don’t lose R&B again?
Well, I put a call out – it takes a very secure person that is comfortable in their own skin to have you light to shine light on others. I am asking all the R&B soldiers to put out a full album that doesn’t have 15 rappers on it.
Question – With the controversy with the radio stations, do you think you are being a rebel or a strong independent thinker who is looking out for the future of R&B and other artist?
You can’t get anything done trying to be angry and being a rebel. I just think people will listen with a different ear and turn off, instead of being open minded. This has been happening for a long time and it is going to continue to happen unless somebody speaks on it. When people are misinformed and don’t know what’s going on everything seems normal until someone comes up and starts rattling the cage. I am not a rebel and I am not coming from and angry place. I’m just posing questions and seeking answers.
Question – Since you are an independent artist, do you feel you have more freedom to speak out and persuade other artists to step out on their own and be more open about what is going on in the music industry and how it is color manipulated (black/white)?
Weird to hear black versus white because that makes it about race. If you say urban (which is kind of the same), urban radio and their approach to supporting R&B soul no matter who’s singing it versus mainstream radio. I just have a real issue with what’s been going on and what continues to go on. So as an independent, I don’t feel like now that I am independent that I have a bigger voice. I feel like I have more control creatively (don’t feel like I have a bigger voice). If I had a major label behind me, they will have more money to book me to do interviews and talk about this topic (compared to what I have). I just feel like this is my focus now. I am not going to let up until I get answers. I am #1and you cannot say that Shame is not a hit. You can’t say that Black Rose the album is not a hit (it is #1 for two weeks in a row) – so why aren’t you playing it?
Question – You are kicking down the doors and letting people know about an important issue. Are you getting support from your fellow artist (peers)?
There is something very competitive about artist (athletes/artist we are all the same). Here’s the thing, I really don’t need the validation. I don’t need R Kelly to call me for 45 minute and tell me that he is in full support of what I am doing. What I need him to do is every time he does an interview, he needs to start talking about the same things. Don’t even mention my name. I don’t need a shout out.
Question – Last album, what are you going to do to continue to fight the good fight?
I am never going to be gone. I am not starting all this shit and going to disappear. I still have interviews to do. I still have 3 or 4 singles off this album. I have a lot of work to do. I got 5 single off of the Open Invitation album (Too Easy, Nothing on You, Stay, Best of Me, and I Got a Chick). It is not over. I am going to ride this R&B wave. Hopefully, it gets so big that others can pull out their surfboard and rock with me. I am not doing it for me. I am doing this for the state of R&B. If we don’t speak on it now, we will definitely be dead. They are already saying that R&B music is dead. I am just doing whatever I can do to bring it back.
Question – What elements are missing from R&B today versus back in the day?
What was missing was clearly Black Rose. Why are people so excited about this album? It is because it is what’s been missing. Even if someone else did the album, just give me what I am missing. If it takes you back to a feeling, because it is a feeling that has been around for 20 – 30 – 40 years and it takes you back to that time. Some person wrote on my Instagram that they couldn’t believe they were listening to an album with bridges on them. What? I had to think about it. Most R&B songs don’t have a bridge because they got a rapper on it.
Question – With the success of this album as an independent artist, what would you recommend to an aspiring artist who are on the fence with signing with a label and stay independent?
I recommend that most artists not go independent. It is very expensive and most artists are just that – an artist. You have to be a business man or woman to be able to wrap you head around the business.
Question – With the success of your album, how does it feel to get the kudos from some of R&B soul greats – like Patti LaBelle?
Oh my God! Stevie Wonder called me the other day and says, “I love your album man (top to bottom)”. He said that Shame is one of my favorite songs right now. What? Patti LaBelle, gets on stage on her own (never called me, never asked me). She made her band learn my song. She had a concert in Philadelphia and in front of 7000 people and she did Shame live. For me, instead of it being an ego thing. It is really confirmation that I tapped into a feeling. It is a feeling that we all know and we miss (that R&B soul has). I don’t have a reason for Patti LaBelle being on stage doing my song and she didn’t call me about it. This is all a feeling that is an individual thing and again she wouldn’t be a fan of song if the radio stations weren’t playing it. Once this song and album gets on peoples radar, the sky is the limit. I hope it keeps selling because numbers don’t lie. All of this creates a bigger stage and platform for the conversation and dialogue about the state of R&B and what we need to do to fall in line and fix it. Even if someone else had the # 1 album called Black Rose, I wouldn’t care. It is not about me. I would say – please somebody do something in R&B to get us excited again.
I agree with the things that were said on this call. I must say that the Black Rose album has gotten people excited about R&B soul again. I have been saying for years that I cannot relate to most of the songs on the radio today. I do not understand how some of the records get played at all, but that is another conversation. I wasn’t aware of the issues around mainstream radio (so I learned a great deal on that aspect). I feel that if the song is a hit, it should be played on every platform. In this day and time, this should not even be an issue or topic of conversation. Unfortunately, I am not surprised.
Share the message/word because things must change – EQUALITY!