It’s been 20 years since Musiq Soulchild launched his iconic career, and he continues to build upon his legendary status. We had a front row seat for the love and admiration that music lovers have for him when we recently got to attend one of his impressive four consecutive sold out shows in NYC. This follows the epic album he collaborated with producer Hit-Boy on and released earlier this year. That “Victims & Villains” project is easily a contender for album of the year. We had the opportunity to speak to Musiq between shows and have him reflect on that album nearly 6 months following it’s release, as well as get the scoop on what keeps him so motivated to keep creating, new music he has in the works, as well as an upcoming documentary.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Earlier this year you released your latest album “Victims & Villains” with Hit-Boy. It’s easily one of the best albums we’ve heard this year. Can you take a moment to reflect on that project?
Musiq Soulchild: It’s interesting. Like I tell my people, this actually feels like it’s my first album. That’s really crazy because how it came about, how I was able to be so efficient with it, I didn’t have to really think too much or work too hard. Hit-Boy is a genius, he’s light years ahead of his time. I’m just grateful that we were able to connect. That’s kind of how the album came about, I was just working on songs with Hit-Boy, it becoming an album came later. I had to rush to make it an album. It wasn’t that much of a challenge, it was pretty effortless. As I was recording and mixing, shouts out to Dave Camp, the mixing engineer, I just felt like I was in my element. I didn’t have the usual anxiety that comes with recording, because I have to make sure I have the different types of songs to please the different types of markets and demographics. It was definitely an experience, a very welcomed one. I’m very grateful that what came out of it, came out of it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You have been releasing a video for every song on the album, which is a pretty epic thing that nobody else is really doing. Each video has been really cinematic as it portrays the lyrics of the song. Talk about the concept of this roll out.
Musiq Soulchild: I’ve always wanted to do this, but I didn’t have the resources or the time to do it before. I low key still don’t, but I’ve been figuring it out as I go. I do a show or two, then I’ll put some bread aside, and it’s really the people I’m working with being so understanding and gracious and allowing me to hit them when I can, but still getting the work done. It’s a group effort, and everybody involved understands the assignment and they get that I’m really trying to do something really cool. Working with a lot of people with vision. It took awhile to find people like that, and I’m so grateful because I’ve been able to get a lot accomplished. So you guys are able to enjoy more offerings according to my creative mind that haven’t been able to tap into, but now I’m able to. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to do more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What motivates you to continue to be so creative this far into your career?
Musiq Soulchild: It’s like a sneeze. I have to do it! *Laughs* I’m powerless against it. But what used to be a challenge for me was I was too over concerned about how it would be received. I was very insecure and lacked confidence in a lot of ways for a very long time. I ran into that traffic during the shut down, and I had to navigate and figure a lot of that out, because it was interfering with my ability to be productive. I learned to unpack a lot of things, address a lot of things, sit with a lot of things, and throw away the trash, so that I can get on with my life. This project “Victims and Villains” is a representation of that. Just moving forward and tapping into what’s already there. Just not being too concerned if at all really, about how it’s going to be received. The reason why I was so concerned about that is because I see myself as a public servant, so I care about people’s experiences whenever I’m offering them something. Then I had to realize that you can’t think like that because apparently you have a gift and a mission, a purpose and path you need to be on. You can’t allow what’s happening today to interfere with you still doing it. You may not see the results or get the reaction you may need and want at the time, but have the confidence to know you put enough in it that it’s good and it’s going to serve whoever it’s intended to serve. That’s not up to you. Focus on doing it and becoming it and manifesting. Whatever happens after that happens.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We’ve watched you fearlessly pursue your creative directions, and you haven’t let anyone stop you, which is very admirable.
Musiq Soulchild: Yeah, it took me a minute to get there. I still have residue, I’m still a human and I’m a sensitive creator. It comes in waves. I’m definitely better with it. I’ve gotten better with it than I have in the past. As a matter of fact, if I’m being completely transparent, I didn’t realize how toughening up I needed. People received whatever I was offering pretty well, despite whatever I may have felt I could have done better. People would go out of their way to let me know a song or an album was great, and I’d take that to heart. I guess I over estimated that they would like everything, and they didn’t even know what it was. I kind of mis-processed that. I’ve had time to sit with it and understand that’s not what happened. What happened was people needed a heads up, or they were looking for something and I disappeared and they thought I was doing something else. They look for what they look for and expect what they expect. I had to respect that. I went back to the drawing board. I put out a new album, just to let them know I didn’t go the other way because of some concept. They thought I was trying to compete with the kids. That’s not what was happening, I was just trying to be creative, my bad! What it also did was create an unstable insecurity among my supporters. They thought they were not going to get what they came for. So I wrapped that up and came back to the thing. By then I think people were pissed off. I think this album “Victims and Villains” helped to remind people I’m this guy, and this is what I do. I had to remind myself actually to be honest. I kind of lost sight of the road, I didn’t really feel that I had it like I thought I had it, I dunno, it got weird. Definitely shouts out to Hit-Boy because he contributed heavily to me being inspired to even record, I was not even trying to record no more! I just didn’t think anybody cared.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Based on the reaction of the fans here in New York City, selling out four of your shows in a row, I don’t think they want you to stop! What do you have coming next?
Musiq Soulchild: Well I was trying to put out another album this year, but I just got hella busy. These shows kinda like derailed that concept. I might still be able to get something out, at least a song, by the end of this year, but I don’t know about a whole album. It all depends. I may have a stretch of time, it don’t really take long. If not, I’m definitely going to shoot for top of next year, somewhere in February or March. I already have stuff ready to go. It’s not a full thing, plus the “Victims and Villains” thing still has legs. I don’t want to cut that down. I’m just going with the flow. I don’t really have a set plan. I’m low key following you guys. You guys are still responsive. We don’t always have it all figured out. We know what we want to do, and hope you guys dig it. So that’s what I’m doing now. I’m doing stuff, I’m discovering stuff, I’m doing stuff I’ve always wanted to do. I’m definitely going to put more energy behind all the alternate endeavors as well. I’ve got attention that people really responded to those as well. I like the pace that I’m on and I’m going to do my best to stay on this pace and keep it consistent at the very least.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You also have a documentary in the works. Can you talk to us about that?
Musiq Soulchild: It’s being created, and as far as I know it’s doing well. I saw a trailer. I want to see that story! *Laughs* I just talk, and say a lot of stuff, and the director was able to source a lot of footage that I didn’t know existed. But I remember those times. It lives in my head because I was there and it happened, but I didn’t know there was actual footage of a lot of stuff. It’s crazy, it’s weird seeing it because it’s one thing to live your life, it’s another thing to see your life be told back to you. It’s a surreal kind of experience. A documentary is being made about me, and we’ll see how it turns out!
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