Brian McKnight is R & B music royalty. The smooth music her released throughout the 90s up until now and his sleek style of sensuality have set him up to be the Godfather of new and upcoming R & B singers. But it seems every day to be more evident that R & B has taken a turn for the worse, reinforced recently with the end of 98.7 Kiss FM in the New York metropolitan tri-state area. The masses do not want to hear squabbles of broken hearts and treating women right. R & B singers are making dance records and trying just about anything that will get them a hit as a means to remaining relevant. Brian McKnight has been releasing music to the people consistently for the past few years—that cool R & B sound that we have come to expect from him but because of lack of mainstream interest he’s been doing a lot of it independently. Most recently he took his talents to YouTube, going viral with the “preview” of a new song that he was working on called, “If You’re Ready to Learn.” Speaking with Parlé Magazine about the possible release of a ‘sex mixtape,’ the impending death of R & B, the music industry and his new label, Brian McKnight is hoping to teach our readers too… but only if you’re ready to learn. The Brian McKnight interview…
Parlé Magazine: It’s been a busy couple of years since we talked to you last. Let’s talk about the launch of your record label.
Brian McKnight: As the way the music industry is going, I needed to do something so the people who want my music can find a way to get it.
Parlé: Ultimately you wanted to have creative control?
Brian McKnight: No, I always had creative control. The problem is that the outlets that my music is for are dying. They don’t know how to market the music to people that want it. It’s strange because the people that buy the music are the ones with money.
Parlé: Are you trying to change that with your label?
Brian McKnight: The currency of now and the future is your email address. If you’re a member of Mcknight360 you’ll get an email when I’m in the studio and when that song is going to be released. The music business was never set up for the artist to win and the artist became marginalized once the business became corporatized.
Parlé: BRKN RBTZ is your sons’ group; do you have any doubts about letting your sons enter the music industry?
Brian McKnight: The idea of the record label was because of them. I shopped them to other labels and they wanted to change them. Labels don’t understand if you cultivate talent, people will buy your music and stay with you forever. People aren’t buying records because they don’t have money, it’s because the records are shit, and it is what it is. I taught my sons that they can do anything but they chose music and I have to find a way for them to win.
Parlé: What do you think about the current state of music?
Brian McKnight: It’s all egos, artists want to be able to say that they are signed to a major label as opposed to being independent. I made Universal Records over 200 million dollars over the course of my career and I didn’t see 10 percent of that.
Parlé: You released on YouTube a song called, “iFUrReadyToLearn,” did you expect some of the reactions you got?
Brian McKnight: No, because from celebrity standards 40,000 followers is pitiful, I’ve been posting songs for my core fans but no one else knows. I’ve released six studio albums since Back At One, I’m not saying I did this for attention. I’m a funny guy and what I did was a parody. The critics shouldn’t come after me when the number one song on the radio is, “Up.” Don’t come after Brian McKnight when he does it because they weren’t doing none of that for my last single.
Parlé: You even released an album last year didn’t you?
Brian McKnight: When I go to a city people tell me that they love my music and want to hear something new. This tells you the people who are supposed to promote the album aren’t doing their jobs. I did 125 shows last year, most of them were sold out but it wasn’t marketed for everyone to know.
Parlé: Are you a believer that “sex sells” is also one of the leading causes to why music is losing its luster?
Brian McKnight: Of course because it’s in everything.
Parlé: Is this why music like your own is taking a back seat?
Brian McKnight: Listen, how am I supposed to compete with, “Every Girl in the World?” It goes to show you that there are a lot of people in the world who love to be who they are behind closed doors, but when it gets in front of their face then it’s wrong. Maybe because I called it “adult” they didn’t know what it meant.
Parlé: Was this song a re-invention for Brian McKnight?
Brian McKnight: No, I’m not changing up anything that I do. First and foremost I was making a joke and maybe because I didn’t laugh is why they thought I was serious. I also showed everybody that I can sing and write about anything and make it sound good. This was a joke and it’s not my fault they don’t have a sense of humor.
Parlé: You’re releasing it on iTunes though.
Brian McKnight: I wasn’t planning on finishing it and as a business man because of the song I cannot be deaf to the opportunity that the song has created.
Parlé: It’s a catchy song.
Brian McKnight: Of course it is. That’s the way I write.
Parlé: Are you releasing a mixtape for the project?
Brian McKnight: No, that was a joke. I’m not releasing a mixtape even though I can write those songs all day long. If I do release a song like that it might be about paying your rent or going to the dentist so people can lighten up.
Parlé: What’s next for you then?
Brian McKnight: I’m going to continue to do shows, do some music education and I’m looking for the next Marvin Gaye so I can get the music back on the radio.
Staying true to his sense of humor, McKnight released a song about anal sex for a porn site and had twitter beef with singer, Chris Brown. He is definitely pushing the envelope and trying to be the martyr and advocate for his music in 2012. He’s a legend in the game and that will continue surely with hits to come.