Once upon a time he danced in Timberlands in front of corner stores and sang about a woman’s rodeo skills, but now, with more than 15 years in the game, Ginuwine has toned those tunes down a bit for a more mature sound with the same skills we all know and love. Clean cut isn’t enough to describe him. In person, it’s like he’d wore a band-aid all his life. Nonetheless, he is indeed talented, a man, father, husband, artist, and genuine about all of the above.
Parlé got some time to speak to this living legend about these different issues, including the R & B game, his skills as a performer, and how he feels about the way he’s appreciated as an artist while he prepares for the release of his new album, Elgin scheduled for release the day after Valentine’s Day. Get your Sweethearts ready…
Parlé Magazine: I want to get it started by asking you how you feel about your career in general up to this point, and, do you feel that you’re a legend?
Ginuwine: Yeah! (Laughs) You know what, I went to the BET Honors, and I really saw real legends like Cicely Tyson, and Iman…just a lot of people, and so they are truly the legends. And the reason why I play around with the word legend is because this is my 7th CD and a lot of artists don’t even make it that far. Many artists don’t even pass three or four. So for me to be in the entertainment business for as long as I have, for 15 years and been relevant, been successful, continue to do shows, sell out shows, traveling and everything…so I just feel like I’m an artist that still has set a standard for artists that come up to follow and be like…So, yeah, I guess I’m a legend somewhat, I guess in my own right, but I still got a long ways to go. You know, I don’t wanna throw that name around lightly because there are a lot of people that truly deserve it moreso than I. But, I’ve definitely put my work in, and this is the seventh CD, so, 15 years in the business I know I’m still not a beginner! (Laughs) So, you know, I’ve been here for a while, so, I guess, “Beginning Legend,” I guess you could call me.
Parlé: Ok, ok, ok…With that said, do you have any other standards set for yourself at the moment?
Ginuwine: As far as for music? Uh, yeah, really, I would like to get nominated for a Grammy, but I don’t set out to do that anymore, though, ‘cause I never felt like I got my just due in the business, period anyway… So I never set out now to get a Grammy, or get an American Music Award, but it still is nice to be recognized, but I don’t set out to do that, but if I was to get that I think that would be a great accomplishment for myself, ’cause a lot of people that I’ve helped, make it have been nominated for Grammy’s like Raheem, and Tank and all them, and its well deserved! They are truly a great talent, both of them; and I had them, they were background singing for me and all that stuff, and I’ve been just as successful if not more successful as them, so I just feel like ‘Dag I still aint get nominated for a Grammy?’ But it’s ok, you’re still working. I’m not in it to get nominated for a Grammy. It just would be nice, but I’m in it because I love music period.
Parlé: Would you compare it to being a basketball player and not winning a championship?
Ginuwine: Yeah absolutely, ‘cause there’s a lot of people—like Jordan hurt their heart, you know what I’m saying? Because there’s a lot of people that probably deserved a ring, but because there was this one guy! You know what I’m saying, that just kept, messing it up for everybody! And then everybody on your team doesn’t have that drive that you have. But the great thing about Jordan was that he made them want it just like he wanted it. And a lot of times like a lot of the basketball players, not to be getting on basketball, but, with a lot of the basketball players you might have one superstar on the team, and they’re not willing to play up to par with the way he is, so they don’t make it. But then you have some celebrities on the basketball team, and they don’t know how to get along with each other! (Laughs) So it’s a lot of things, you know. I felt like that, I don’t feel like that anymore. Honestly I can truly say, it would be, nice, but I don’t feel like I got to get a Grammy or something to feel official. I’m cool but it would be nice Grammy Awards! It would be nice to walk on that stage… To get nominated, and a lot of people get nominated and say they’re glad to be nominated but I wanna win! I want to win! (Laughs) So if I’m nominated I would love to win, and get up on the stage and just say thank you. It would be a great closing, for me, a great closing to a great career.
Parlé: And do you see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Ginuwine: I don’t look for it no more, I’m telling you, like I don’t go for it like that. I have said that if I make it to ten that’s probably where I want to stop. I think LL did a great job, he did, I think 10, and he stopped and said ‘Ok it’s time to do something else,’ and he’s still young, he’s still doing his thing, and I think I would like to do the same thing. And I think that’s just a great legacy to leave behind. A lot of artists still will not get that far. And get that far and be as successful. So, it’s a great thing for me, and hopefully I can make it to number 10. And then I would want to start managing other artists, ‘cause I think the best manager is an artist, his, or herself, that has been in the business and been successful and knows the ins and outs of the business.
Parlé: And you could share a lot of information with them…
Ginuwine: Absolutely. Knows the ins and outs, so, I think I would want to be a manager.
Parlé: Ok, ok, so how has your vision of the R & B game I guess I could say, changed, from when you were a rookie up to now?
Ginuwine: When you are starting out you’re inspired by so many different things, you just want to be the best, man…and you’re just so ambitious; your drive is just at a million! And my drive is still cool, it’s not like how when I first began. I don’t think anyone’s drive is the same, you know. You get comfortable…you get sidetracked a lot, and throughout my career I have. But by the grace of God alone, I was able to still focus, when it was time for me to do my job, and I think I’ve done it pretty good, and I know I can buckle down even more. But when you have kids and you’re married…you know, life takes its toll on you after a while, and then you’re just not as creative, you’re not as motivated… And it takes a special person when it’s time to dig down and do a record, to really go in there and pour out whatever it is you got in you to put on a record, and that’s what we did.
Parlé: So what motivation has changed?
Ginuwine: One reason is because I was not being recognized the way I thought I should be recognized, so I stopped putting so much into what I was doing ‘cause I was like ‘Oh they don’t care about it anyway…’
Parlé: Then you stop caring about it in a sense right?
Ginuwine: Yeah, yeah, and then that kind of, kills your motivation, because it did for me, really. Because once your motivation is killed, it’s kind of hard to revive it and bring it back to life, and those are the stages that I have been in since my last CD. Because before my last CD I was off for like four years. I always loved music and I always loved to perform, and that’s my favorite part, to perform; my favorite part is not the studio, I can’t stand the studio…
Ginuwine: Yeah I can’t stand the studio.
Parlé: What’s wrong with the studio?
Ginuwine: You’re your worst critic, and I don’t like the way I sound on the mic.
Parlé: So is it like when your voice is mastered, you don’t like the way it sounds on the record?
Ginuwine: Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But while I’m doing it in a studio, I can’t stand it.
Ginuwine: I’ll be like, don’t play it no more! (Laughing) For real…But there are some songs we do, like “Last Chance,” we did that on the last CD I was like, ‘Play that all day,’ I love it! But sometimes you just don’t like your voice on certain things. And I’m very critiqueful of my own stuff, and I kick everybody out the studio when I’m singing, no one is in the studio, it’s just me and the engineers, no one else in the studio when I’m doing my thing…
Parlé: Now I have to ask this. Is there a certain level of nervousness that you have when you’re in the studio alone?
Ginuwine: Never…Never. I just don’t like the studio. (Laughs) I just don’t like my voice in the studio, and I just don’t like the studio, I’m not a studio-head. And that’s why you don’t get so much material from me; you get an album every year, or every other year. You don’t get any mixtapes, you know, ‘cause I don’t like my voice in there. I want to be that, but that’s just not me, you know. And I’m very impatient; if I don’t do it right, I’ll be like, well, ‘Ok that’s the best I’m gonna do it.’ Because I feel like if you take too much time on something, you lose the motivation for it. So I’m the kind of cat that can finish three songs in a day. Two or three songs in a day. If my voice is up to it and I feel up to it, I can finish two or three songs in a day.
Parlé: But, when it comes to performing that’s like a totally different thing…
Ginuwine: Yeah, now see that’s a totally different story. The performing part of it, that’s what I live for. I’ve always told people that’s what I was born for. I believe, with the proper things around me, and everything I need as a performer; band, and all that kind of stuff, I still feel to this day there’s no one that can touch me. Still.
Ginuwine: And that’s not even being conceited, that’s just the way I put it together…I feel like I put it together better than anybody else. I don’t feel like I’m the best dancer. I don’t feel like I’m the best singer. I don’t feel like I’m the best looking. I feel like I’m the best at putting it all together. That’s how I feel I’m the best. And still to this day if you give me, what everyone else has; pick whoever you want to pick, and give me what they have also, as far as what they are able to use there’s no one that can do it better than me. Still. I still feel like that. And I feel like if you don’t feel that way no one else will. And I honestly feel that.
Parlé: That’s interesting. And I remember growing up, and you had to be the best dancer, I’ve ever seen, in Timberland Boots.
Ginuwine: (Laughing) Right, right! That’s some hard stuff! That’s some hard stuff…But yeah man, I always felt like that. I always felt like that.
Parlé: Ok cool. As far as your personal situation as far as the deals you’ve come across in your career how did you get to this standpoint now with being signed with Warner Bros. and basically all your other deals in the past and the ride up to this point?
Ginuwine: I mean the business is just so rough man, people always think the business is easy, and the business is very rough. This is probably the worst business that you can get in, as far as, business-wise.
Parlé: Would it be equally as rough as it is for R & B singers as it is for rappers?
Ginuwine: It’s probably easier for rappers!
Parlé: Oh wow…
Ginuwine: Yeah man it’s probably easier for rappers as far as a respect level. ‘Cause with singers, the powers that be tend to feel that we’re stupid. ‘Cause I had to get used to the ‘Hey superstar!’ stuff and I‘d just feel like, stop BS’n me—
Parlé: So I guess I shouldn’t have called you legend then!
Ginuwine: (Laughing) Nononononono, not like that, not like that, I’m talking about…you know how they do man, like ‘Wasssssup Superstarrrrrrr!’ and I’ll just be like “(–_–)”.
Ginuwine: You know what I’m saying, ‘cause I’m older now, and I been through that, like, ‘Stop. Tell the truth, what I need to do?’ And I think that’s important, as far as artist, for me to stand for what I believe in, And a lot of times people don’t like that, you know what I’m saying. You become a troubled artist, or, ‘You don’t listen,’ but as long as I say ‘Yeah, I’ll do it!’ I’m a good person… So I’ve always been like nah, I’m going to have it my way, that way, when I look out that window at the end of the day, I can say I did it my way, whether it’s on a higher level, or a level where I can just maintain, I can still say I did it my way.
Parlé: True, true… So everything is comfortable with Warner Bros. now?
Ginuwine: Oh yeah, now, yeah. It’s actually Notifi/Fontana/Warner Bros.
Parlé: Alright, cool, cool. So, in general, about R &B music, do you feel like it’s a little too sexual nowadays, and it’s lost a little of its luster?
Ginuwine: (Laughing) Well, I think certain people may make it to sexual; and then others will offset that with the depth of R & B and all of its substance it has to have, in order to be called R & B or, known for an looked at to be called R & B and I kind of straddle the fence on that one because in my earlier years I was the ‘Nasty Man,’ you know…
Ginuwine: And now, I’m a little more mature, and a little more aware of the things that I might say. But um, it aint going nowhere because everyone still loves sex, but it’s how you present it, like I have this one track on the CD called “Drink of Choice,” which is a metaphor. So that’s where it differs for me now, it’s the creativity, versus, the raunchiness from back in the days. So I just try to be more creative nowadays.
Parlé: Do you feel that chivalry is dead?
Ginuwine: Yeah sometimes, no, well, I don’t allow it to die, on my part, but as far as guys taking care of their woman, and, making sure that it’s not all about self, it’s about giving, and how a lot of guys don’t groom themselves, how a lot of guys don’t take care of themselves. For me, I feel like if a woman doesn’t find me attractive ‘cause I’m taking care of myself, then that’s not the woman I want. I want a woman that wants me to take care of myself because truly, that tells a lot about you. And if you don’t take care of yourself how can you take care of a woman? How can you take care of kids? If you’re neglecting yourself, then…come on.
Parlé: …How can you take care of anybody else?
Ginuwine: Right and a true woman will see that. And I have kids, so I’m always telling my sons…shower!
Ginuwine: You know…take three a day, if you can. Wear that cologne, shave your face, shave your head, cut your nails, you know…take care of yourself. Now, I don’t get my feet done or anything like that—
Parlé: I mean everybody has their own extremes…
Ginuwine: Yeah everybody has their own little thing, but I don’t do that. But my wife might take care of my nails or something, but I’m always groomed, I’m always, making sure I smell good. Always making sure I’m clean. And that’s truly what it’s about. I think it’s a lot of misconceptions about what a man is, what a thug is, and all that kind of stuff.
Parlé: Yes, yes.
Ginuwine: I just feel like, dude. I always tell people you can take the thugest thug in the world, and if you put a suit on him, he’ll act different, trust me.
Parlé: (Laughing) Yeah!
Ginuwine: There’s something about that suit, he’ll feel like, ‘Whoa,’ he’ll feel like a different person, and that’s what it’s about. When you get that person out of that dude, that’s the real person, you know. And I don’t think its dead, but it needs to be more examples, of what a true gentleman and what a true man in every sense of the word is, and that’s what I try to be.
Parlé: I hear that. And you spoke about your kids and telling them, especially your sons about how to be men and stuff like that. How have your kids and family changed your music over the years?
Ginuwine: Just by being my kids and me being a man, me being a husband and father. Just wanting to be more of an example, but letting them know also that I made mistakes when I was a kid; and I’m not expecting you to be perfect. Everything’s a 360 and that’s what’s so funny about life now, and they’re right at that age and I have teenagers now, and I’m like ‘Wow I remember when I did that.’ Aint nothing new. Nothing’s new! The only thing that’s new is the internet! But the problems and issues that all the kids go through now, it’s nothing different! It’s funny how your kid can come home and tell you something and you can tell them almost how it’s going to play out. It’s crazy, I be like ‘Wow, am I that old?’ But you’ve seen it before, and it’s the same thing. That’s how they truly changed me. Just seeing them and saying you can have a kid that goes to the left, and is defiant, and doesn’t want to do that, or you could have a kid that is going to get in trouble a little bit, and you can teach them as much as you can, and hopefully they’ll go the right way. And that’s what I try to do, you know, my wife and I, we try to, not shelter them, but still not contribute to the delinquency of a minor. (Laughs) Just because it’s all over doesn’t mean you have to conform to it. You have to do all you can as a parent to stop your kid from doing all the craziness that’s going on in the world. And although I still have music that’s saying one thing, I still let them know what it is, and I’m not doing anything in my music that I wouldn’t tell my kids about.
Parlé: Ok, ok, so with the new album that you have coming out, it drops on the 14th, correct?
Ginuwine: No the 15th, we tried to make it Valentine’s Day, but records come out on Tuesday so it just happens to fall on the wrong day.
Parlé: Truth be told… So how did you come about making this album, you said that you take long breaks and stuff like that; you don’t like being in the studio. So how did this project come about?
Ginuwine: It’s time for it (Laughs). They called me and said ‘Aight, get in the studio it’s time for it. ‘Cause I was trying to make it last as long as I could. But, it was time for me to just get back in the studio and work. I signed for two records and this is the second one, so they was telling me it’s time to get in the lab, and I just went back there and just started. My thing when I go in the studio now, it aint about direction or anything like that, it’s about good music. Because I think, as an artist I done conquered every way that you can go, as far as with creativeness, and directions and love, and you pissed off or, your happy… Man I done covered all that, so at this point I’m just trying to do good music.
Parlé: That’s cool, that’s cool… So what about the producers and songwriters, and do you have a favorite cut on the album?
Ginuwine: My favorite cut is probably “Drink of Choice,” and it was done by Bryan Michael Cox, it’s a metaphorical type song, about a woman being a drink. I’ll let your mind wander with that one. But I got quite a few on there man. This song called “Heaven” that Tank did for me. St. Nick, I got a duet on there with Trina, and the song is called “Batteries.”
Ginuwine: Yeah, I’ll let your mind wander with that one too…and um, that’s pretty much it man, I got a lot of nice songs on there man. Hopefully the public will receive it well.
Parlé: Great, great! Cool! Thanks man!
Make sure you follow Ginuwine on twitter @Ginuwine09. New album, Elgin in stores, February 15th, new single “What Could’ve Been” available now on itunes.
Check out the new single:
Images by Christian Ortiz for
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