Tyrese Details Bringing Back Real R&B with Black Rose album
Tyrese isn’t mad. Tyrese doesn’t really seem all that bitter. Actually, Tyrese just wants some questions answered. And, quite frankly, that should be his God given right. “We’re not playing you, white man. Your song, your R&B. Your soul on our Black stations, because you’re white. But, it happens the other way around,” Tyrese begins, sounding very matter-of-fact, as he quickly sets out to prove his very well-made point. Continuing, he stresses, “Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake (and/or) Sam Smith, when they’re specifically singing R&B/Soul if urban radio loves it, we play it. It doesn’t matter what their nationality is or their sexual preference; music is music. So, why doesn’t it happen the other way?”
Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter-actor-author Tyrese Gibson was born and raised in Watts, California; a 2.12-square-mile neighborhood within the South Los Angeles area. The inner-city youth’s “big break” came courtesy of a 1994 Coca-Cola advertisement after having been discovered riding the local bus line. Shortly thereafter, and through the exposure received from his popular television commercial, Gibson was soon able to secure modeling gigs with high profile companies; such as Guess and Tommy Hilfiger. A recording contract with RCA soon followed.
Getting back to the current situation at hand, the 36 year old entertainer, most famously known for playing the championed silver screen roles of both Joseph ‘Jody’ Summers [Baby Boy] and Roman Pearce [The Fast and the Furious], elaborates further, “I don’t want you to play my song because I’m black, and I’m not using the black card, it’s very simple, if it’s a hit record and it’s number one for eleven weeks, why is it only being supported and played on urban radio? I don’t create limits for myself, so I don’t appreciate people creating limits for me, my reach, my audience (and/or) my fan-base. You can’t have over six billion dollars in the box office and tell me that I only have black fans because I’m black. I know more white people than most white people! Laughter ensues
“So, I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I’m not a homophobe. I’m not an angry black man. It’s not a rant. They’re just trying to distract people and diminish my issue; diminish my point. I’m very articulate. I’m very clear, and I know I’m a leader and I know that everybody in the R&B community is gonna end up benefiting from me finally speaking up on what’s really been going on for years. R&B/soul is R&B/soul. I don’t wanna be played on the pop stations that play house and techno. I don’t wanna be played on the country stations unless I’m singing country, God damnit! I’m singing R&B/soul, so you’re telling me that if Sam Smith, Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake were to sing ‘Shame,’ featuring Jennifer Hudson, they’d be playing it on every format of radio imaginable. You cannot expect anybody to support and buy a single or an album if they don’t know it exists. If I were to do an autograph signing or do a concert at any of these pop stations, I’d get more screams and energy and more people showing up for my autograph signing than the people you listen to everyday. Don’t play with me! I’m grown, okay. So at the end of the day, don’t question my shit. Don’t make it out to be, don’t make this about anything else but what’s really going on. I’m clear, I’m focused, and nothing and no one is gonna get me off my course.”
The “course” Tyrese is speaking of is his latest – not to mention stellar – sixth and final studio collection, the aptly titled Black Rose [Voltron Recordz/Caroline]. The 14-track set features cameo appearances from the aforementioned J-Hud, Snoop Dogg, Chrisette Michele, Tank – who’s one third of his off-shoot collective TGT – Brandy and even his own rap alter-ego, Black-Ty, featured on the lead single, “Dumb Sh*t.” “So Black Rose, number one two weeks in a row. ‘Shame,’ number one on Billboard and I’m using my number one – and I’m not saying this is about Tyrese – this is about R&B,” he expresses with a real sense of gratitude.
Expounding, Tyrese goes on, “All of these R&B singers – not all but most of us whether we’re conscious of it or not – most of us are very insecure and we feel like we can’t get no love and attention on any of our albums and projects unless we got fifteen rappers on it. Back in the day, it was never Marvin Gaye, featuring Kurtis Blow. It was never Luther Vandross, featuring Run-DMC. It was never Donny Hathaway, featuring The Sugarhill Gang; it was a pure R&B/soul album. So now, if you’re not willing to twerk, drop and if you don’t know somebody named Nae Nae, they ain’t fucking with you! So for me, the success around this Black Rose album is sending the right message; it’s saying to the R&B community, ‘Finally, finally, a pure R&B album is getting the energy, the love, the sales!’ I was number one on nine different charts. Number one everywhere. Number one just following me everywhere I go, and I love it because it’s gonna benefit the state of R&B.
Everybody in this industry are like robots. How many new artists just got signed that’s got songs like ‘Nae Nae?’ They just got a deal this week. And then, you got Deborah Cox at the house who can’t even find a record deal if she tried. So at the end of the day, this is not about Tyrese. It’s about me saying, ‘Listen, man, what y’all are about to write in this article y’all are gonna help me shed light on some shit that’s been going on forever, and your article and your position and the way you go about writing this is going to help affect change…’ I just appreciate y’all for allowing me to use my voice through you to help get the word out! And, obviously, we need more sales. We need to stay number one. You know, if I wanted to make money, guys, I wouldn’t be in the music business. I make real money from movies, okay. So all of this time, energy and all of this shit I’m dealing with, is for two dollars compared to what I’m used to making from being on a movie set for three, four months. So everything that I’m doing is for the benefit of others. And, I’m catching a lot of heat! I got people writing all kinda shit: ‘Look at him using the race card; in 3,2 1…Race card!’ Shut the fuck up, man. So, that’s what I have to say.”
On the summarization of his R&B versus Pop music debate, Tyrese reiterates with a simple break-down, “Well, it’s the elephant in the room, you know, and it’s something that everyone’s talking about but nobody’s talking about…So I think this – the amount of press and attention – like, listen, I was just exchanging text messages with Soledad O’Brien from CNN; this shit is a big deal right now! I just did TMZ Live with Harvey Levin; this is a big deal and everybody that’s running with these stories and articles are in agreeance that music shouldn’t have limits, period. Like I said, it’s very simple if you think about the cultures and what’s been happening for many years; ☆NSYNC or The Backstreet Boys are gonna be much bigger than Boyz II Men and New Edition – all across the board – ’cause it’s more white people in the world than Black people, we’re understanding that very clear. However, we deserve an opportunity to have our gifts and our talents to be seen and on people as many radars as possible, period. If Backstreet Boys end up selling way more records than Boyz II Men, God bless you, but if they’re gonna sell way more records than Boyz II Men because they had the opportunity to sell more records, that’s the problem.
My song called ‘Stay’ was number one for eleven weeks and was only played on urban radio. Sam Smith – same song title – his shit was played everywhere, and he had a full choir on his chorus. If I had sung that version of ‘Stay,’ my shit would have been on urban AC and on the gospel channel.”
Tyrese, still names the late actor Paul Walker – who tragically passed away in an automobile accident back on November 30th 2013 – as his “best friend,” recently invested $50,000 of his own money into the education of Compton teenager Lorenzo ‘Zo The Motivator’ Murphy, who’s planning on using it to enroll into HBCU Morehouse. “So my thing is, let’s be fair, man. Sam Smith, I’m a fan. I love you. Congratulations, you’re doing so well. You should be so proud that your song that you did was celebrated and heard and embraced – had the opportunity to be celebrated and embraced – around the world. All I’m after is the same opportunity; to be able to sing a song from my heart and have people around the world to hear it, embrace it, support it and love it – That’s it. I don’t want nobody else’s hits. I just want my own.”
Tyrese is set to release a short film using songs from Black Rose. Check out the trailer for the film, The Black Book here.