As Black Music Month steadily comes to an end, multi-platinum selling singer, Joe is anticipating two milestones during the month of July by celebrating his 40th birthday and the release of his tenth album in 20 years, “DoubleBack: Evolution of R&B.”
In an effort to recreate a nostalgic soul album, the R&B crooner decided to record with live instrumentation mixed with heartfelt lyrics on various songs including his top 10 Urban AC radio hit, “I’d Rather Have A Love.”
During a recent interview with the Huffington Post, the singer-songwriter opened up on recording his 12-track independent opus, and shared his thoughts on today’s R&B scene.
How does it feel to release your tenth album in 20 years?
Man, it’s pretty amazing. I’d never imagine any moments in my life as time periods where it would be 10 albums 20 years in. It’s just pretty remarkable. So I feel very fortunate and very blessed, to be honest with you.
What inspired the album’s title?
It’s that evolution of trying to evolve but also trying to go back at the same time. Doubling back, but I feel like to go forward at this point in R&B you have to go back just a little bit. Because the old music back then, it was sweet. It was beautiful. The Marvin Gayes, the Stevie Wonders, Michael [Jackson], Whitney [Houston], everybody. It was just beautiful music. So I want to take it back and sort of evolve it and hopefully inspire a new generation to want to do that sound of music where it’s more live and organic.
Among the 12 tracks featured on the album is your duet with Fantasia, entitled, “Love & Sex.” What’s the meaning behind the song?
Well, I think it’s going to get a lot of people’s attention, especially those who are in a relationship dealing with love and the emotional side of it. There’s a lot of times when you get to that point, especially women, I don’t think a lot of men get that way, but when you get there you really want to find the value and meaning between the two. So I think it’s a real touchy subject, but it’s executed very well. Fantasia’s a phenomenal singer and she’s bringing so much soul into this record it’s pretty much undeniable.
What are your thoughts on the current R&B scene in comparison to when you first made your debut in the early 90s?
Well, there’s not that much R&B when it comes to the authentic side of it. Today it’s more like sing and rap. And then you have some guys who go from R&B and go over to the pop side. So it confuses the core audience. It’s like, what artist are you at this point now, because all you do is dance music. But I try to stay as genuine and standard as possible when it comes to R&B music. It’s a certain feel, it’s a certain taste of quality that comes along with it and my fans expect it from me. So for me to go in that direction would sort of be a let down.
What are some of the essential elements to your longevity?
It’s about a grind for me. I think when I moved from Georgia when I was 17, 18-years-old and I got to New York, it was a certain hustle, certain grind up here…and I just kept grinding all throughout my career. I had some incredible high moments. I never had any incredible low moments, but I had some moments where I felt things could’ve been more swift and smoother. But the thing is, you never stop. Ever since I left Jive in 2008, I did 11 years, six albums with them but I wanted to do my independent thing and make moves for myself. So in 2009 I released an album, so since then I’ve done four or five records independently.
So that’s the thing. It may not be the same look when we were selling 500,000 units back in the 90s, it’s a little different. The hustle’s a little harder, you just got to keep grinding. And for new artists, just be good at your craft. Don’t follow the same thing. Do something that’s a little bit unique.
“DoubleBack: Evolution of R&B” hits stores and digital retailers on July 2.