Two years since releasing his last studio effort, W.ants. W.orld. W.omen, Grammy-nominated R&B crooner Dwele is set to unleash his fifth album, Greater Than One, on August 28. Born Andwele Gardner, the Detroit native and Kanye West collaborator decided to add a slight 1980s flair to the album's soundscape, with the help of LaLa Hathaway and Raheem DeVaughn, who are featured on the project.
In speaking with The Huffington Post, the producer and multi-instrumentalist opened up on recording the EOne release, the possibility of recording new tracks with Kem and J. Dilla and his take on the current neo-soul scene.
Where did you get the title Greater Than One?
The original title was "Greater Than One, Less Than Three," but we decided that it was too long. And it was pretty much signifying a relationship between two people. But we just ended up shorting it to "Greater Than One." I did keep the original title in an actual interlude, where I kind of explain it. But I think Greater Than One pretty much sums it up.
Judging from the tracks that I've heard, it appears that you went for an '80s vibe. Was that done intentionally during the recording process?
It wasn't intentional at all. I didn't even notice that I was doing it until I listened to three or four tracks back to back and then I noticed that it had the '80s feel to it. But I think that I definitely still have that Dwele feel in a majority of the songs. I didn't want to go too far left with this one. So some songs do have an '80s feel, and then other songs have my signature sound to it.
What sets this album apart from your previous projects?
I try to keep it consistent, as far as talking about relationships on every album, because I feel that's something that everyone can relate to in one way or another. I've been through a couple different things over the past two years, since the last album. So there's a couple more grown topics on this album.
Like the track, "Obey," which is sort of like a bedroom tutorial for couples.
Yeah, definitely! [Laughs] "Obey" is pretty much about controlling in the bedroom. It turns out some women like that. So I kind of spoke on it from a controller's perspective. And it turns out that this book that everyone's going crazy over, "50 Shades of Grey," is kind of about the same thing. So I think I'm right on time with this one. [Laughs]
What led you to develop the concept and video treatment for the album's lead single, "What Profit"?
Well, the hook of the song is, "What profit a man to gain the whole wide world to lose his girl," and basically it's saying that it means nothing to have everything if you don't have anyone special to share it with. The video kind of doubles that. It just shows me and the young lady at the beginning of the video, how I really don’t have time for her. Halfway through the video she's kind of on that tip like, "This ain't working, I'm going to leave this dude." And then it hits me like, "I need to make time for my girl, because she's what's important." So at the end we kind of make up and make it do what it do.
As of right now, do you have a second single lined up?
I have a couple that might be, but I wouldn't want to say it and jinx it. I would definitely let the fans know what the second single is.
Who are some of the other artists with whom you worked on the album?
I worked with Raheem DeVaughn again on this project for a song called, "What You Gotta Do." I also wanted to showcase a lot of Detroit talent on this album, because I feel like we have a lot of talent that hasn't been brought to the forefront. So I worked with my background singer, J Tait, on a song. I also worked with Monica Blair, L'Renee and Black Milk, who's an MC out of Detroit.
Speaking of Detroit artists, can fans expect you and Kem to work on any material in the future?
Yeah, actually when I was mixing the album, Kem came through to the studio. So we spoke on it a little bit. And that may be something that we can make happen for the future. We've also done a few shows together in the past.
Do you have any plans to record again over some unreleased music by J Dilla?
There's a lot of J. Dilla beats floating around. It's just a matter of working out the business on it. But yeah, definitely I would love to drop some of those songs.
Since dropping your debut album close to 10 years ago, during the height of the neo-soul explosion, what are your thoughts on the current state of the genre?
I definitely think that it was bigger back then. I think right now there's still a love for soul music. I don't think that it's a balance of different types of R&B and soul in rotation on the radio. There should be more of a balance, but I think neo-soul still has its core fan base, and I appreciate that.