The Joe InterviewApril 24, 2007 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Interviews | Leave a comment
If ever there were an official hymnal of love songs, rest assured several of the standards would have derived from Joe’s well-referenced music catalogue. His skilled yet innate ability to blend smooth, sultry vocals with disciplined musicianship and songwriting has edified hearts the world round with an amazing grace that is both entertaining and divine.
Joe’s latest offering, Ain’t Nothing Like Me, is a collection of songs that are snapshots from his own life. Ever present are the authentic, heart-felt lyrics that Joe has been ordained to deliver. Songs like “My Love (Make It Happen)” and “If I Was Your Man” are true to form arrangements that further expose a more personal side– a first for the enigmatic balladeer who has long been a staple on play lists for everything from weddings to family reunions; from ladies nights out to road trips with the fellas; from poolside to bedside. Joe has a consistency that not many other artists can say they have. He releases album after album of great quality R&B music that will never get old and will be enjoyed for many years to come. Some say that he is an underrated artist at times and I couldn’t agree more. Joe is a legend and always will be. TheSource.com speaks with the lovely and talented, Joe.
You haven’t had an album out for a couple of years, what is it like coming back with a new album?
It’s been a long time coming. I’ve just been taking my time and not doing too much. I took some time out to do other things outside of music like working on my clothing line and wine company.
How is the clothing line coming along?
It’s going well. It’s a high end, couture, fashion line. We’re doing menswear to start out with and get a bit more detailed with the ladies a bit later on. It’s somewhat based on my own style. We have the designer jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, button down shirts, belt, wallets…we’re doing a whole line. It’s going to be called J. Thomas.
You have worked with a lot of people on this album. Is there anyone who you think has made an extra special contribution?
There are many great artists including writers and producers on this album. I worked with Nas, G-Unit, Fabolous and Papoose did a great job also. Each producer brought the same level of energy to this album and there was a lot of chemistry. Bryan Michael Cox is the piano man, he has his own style.
Was one of your aims to make this the best album you’ve ever made?
I believe this would be the one, it’s the best album I’ve ever made. I wanted to make this album a bit more up tempo and I have a few slow, special songs as well. We’ve blended the past two albums into one.
Would you ever stray from your signature style?
I don’t think I can because my tone is always going to bring me right back to my roots. I’m always going to sound the same on a song. It’s like an instinct.
The collaboration with Mariah Carey a few years back in 1999 [Thank God I Found You] was great, have you thought of working with any other female artists?
I had a good time recording that with Mariah, I’d love to work with her again. Also Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Brandy. Brandy has the most beautiful tone in the business. There are a lot of talented female singers out there. It might be good to do a duets album.
This is a weird question but have you ever felt angry or stressed enough to write rap lyrics?
Nah, never felt that stressed before! I guess you would have to be stressed to talk about some of the things rappers talk about. I’ve never been caught up in that situation before, I always try to make sure I put one foot in front of the other and look down the road. I kind of avoid a whole lot of those things.
You sound good with G-Unit…
G-Unit are dope. That’s a family connection right there. I’m always working with them. We connect and they understand and respect what I do. 50 [Cent] was the catalyst making the connection happen. He wanted to make sure I got on the G-Unit album and they recorded on my album in return.
You’ve been in this business for such a long time, what kind of advice would you give to the younger artists?
They need to focus on their craft and get it polished up before they hit the main circuits. There is a lot of talent out there these days. When I came out, there was only a handful of artists, especially male solo artists. You have to take your time and finish school because you’re going to need that. Just keep that focus going.
Do you think some of the younger artists are too drawn into recording collaborations?
Yeah I do. For one it helps them get a jump start to record with an artist that is already established. I think it’s cool to get someone to help to solidify and endorse you into the scene.
I saw you live in
London, December 2005, in Brixton. What’s important to you about making the fans feel involved in your shows?
The connection is important. I have to connect with my fans and sometimes it’s difficult to see the audience with a spotlight shining on me. I get the house guy to turn the lights on so I can see the responses of the crowd and know they are feeling what I’m doing.
Why do you think your fans have stuck with you through the years?
I really can’t answer that, that’s a very hard question to answer. I would like to look into their soul and find out what really touched them. There is so much appreciation and I can’t put my finger on what it is. I’ll continue doing what I do and hopefully they will continue feeling the same.
I love your music and I can’t really explain either!
Well thank you very much. I respect the music and what it can do for people. I want to do the best with it that I can.
Do you think romance is the most important facet of R&B music?
I think it’s one of the things we do best and that connection is made immediately when you talk about love, romance or pain. A lot of people connect with that energy and it feels good when you can sing something soulful and then something a bit more aggressive.
Have you ever realised that you’re educating guys on how to treat their girls better?
I’ve been told that! It’s not a bad idea because sometimes you just have to let the record play. Play the right music and you might make the right decisions. It’s like a little History lesson.
Do you think there will ever be a moment where you might want to stop making music?
I might slow up but I don’t think I’ll ever stop recording because I like the way it sounds and I like the process. It’s like a carpenter; you have the wood shop skills and a garage to do your craft. It’s what you know.
Here are your quick fire questions, Joe.
What’s your favourite food?
I’m too nice!
Top number in your speed dial?
Favourite item of clothing?
A pair of shell toe Adidas.
Favourite song right now?
This Is Why I’m Hot by MIMS
Mariah or Janet?
Mariah vocally, Janet image wise.
Day or night?
Jay-Z or Nas?
Nas all day!
By Rashmi Shastri