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Musiq wants people to 'Juslisen'


By Keona Humphries

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The neo-soul musician Musiq, formerly known as Musiq Soulchild, is back with a new album, "Juslisen (Just Listen)." He's kept up the momentum generated by his 2000 platinum debut, "Aijuswanaseing (I Just Wanna Sing)": "Juslisen" debuted at the top of the Billboard album charts.

Critics are also giving Musiq, 24, high praise for his lyrical ballads. Rolling Stone magazine gave "Juslisen" four stars.

Musiq's debut was full of songs about all forms of love -- unrequited, unconditional and even unearned. "Juslisen" was constructed along similar lines, says Musiq.

" 'Juslisen' is like the sequel to a great movie -- same characters, just a different plot and story line," he says.

The Philadelphia-born singer's inspiration comes from his musical idols, including Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Michael Jackson. On his new album, Musiq is also adds the Beatles to that list, covering the George Harrison-written classic, "Something."

Musiq is currently criss-crossing the nation on tour. While in Atlanta, he took off his signature dark shades to reveal his love of music, dislike of industry commercialism and plan to transcend musical boundaries.

CNN: Let's talk about the lyrics. The words are about love and relationships, including your latest single, "halfcrazy." Where do you get your material? Is it all personal?

Musiq: Right now, my music is not in that personal space -- that autobiographical-diary space. It's not there yet. [That's why] I'm not using the Soulchild name that much. Soulchild is a personal name I gave myself. ... So I don't misrepresent it, I think I'll live it alone for awhile, until I get to the position where I can personify the idea of the whole "Soulchildism."

My words are stories -- stories that tell different levels of life and love, things that I've been through, things that I've seen other people go through, conversations that I've had. I use it as material. You add a little bit of imagination and creativity and you have a song.

CNN: How did you get you start in the music business?

Musiq: Music was always a part of my life; creativity has always been a part of my life as far back as I can remember.

Music came along around 14. I always knew that I could sing, but kids do things because they know they can do it. I used to sing because I knew I could sing. I didn't really think too much of it. About 14 my father would play a lot of music, and I used to listen and ask questions and talk about a lot of different artists and music.

Around 17 or 18, I moved out of my parents' house to pursue a career [in music]. ... Around 21, I met my writing and production team [Carmui] -- my writing partner Carvin [Hagins] and my producer Ivan [Barias]. At 22, I got the deal.

CNN: It wasn't overnight success, but it almost seems like it.

Musiq: It wasn't necessarily overnight, I wouldn't say. But considering the average time it takes for someone to get into the music industry and make an album come out, you could say it was overnight. In about two years, I've had two albums to come out. There are people who work five years and still try to get an album out. God bless them, and please give them strength.

CNN: Now that you have all this success, what are the drawbacks? How does the day-to-day grind get to you?

Musiq: To be honest, I'm not a big fan of interviews.

CNN: Well, thanks!

Musiq: No offense. It just [stinks] when you do an interview with someone and when you read the article you don't see what you said. You actually see alterations and words being put in your mouth. ...

There are a lot of things about this business that I'm not quite cool about. but that's life. Everything is not going to go your way. Everything about it, you're not gonna like. But it's the good things that make it all worth it. The fact that I get up in the morning to sing, makes it all worth it.

CNN: [Is] the commercialism of this business hard for you?

Musiq: It's very difficult -- very difficult. But, it comes with the territory. It has to be dealt with and I deal with it accordingly. ... I don't necessarily like the car, but I drive it every now and again. It gets me from point A to point B.

CNN: Where are you headed next? What is the evolution of Musiq?

Musiq: There's so much music out there and I refuse to allow myself to just stay in one space. I know that it's "regular" to stick with what you came out with. You come out an R&B singer and you stay an R&B singer because that's what you're known for.

However, I'm not that kind of person. I like R&B music. I like hip-hop music. I like jazz music. I like rock music. I like gospel music. I like reggae music. I like music. I want to be able as an artist to tap into all of those areas. I feel I have that right and like I say it all depends on my audience.


• Musiq

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