Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray

Amanda Cagan over at ABC PR likes to expand my musical tastes-that's why I like her so much. So here is an interview with the absolutely legendary Raphael Saddiq who played Music Midtown last year. Enjoy!
-Barb

Q: This album appears to have come together very organically, as if you pulled inspiration from a lot of different places instead of approaching it with one set concept in mind. Is that the way you typically work?

A: Most of the time when I'm working on an album, things happen very organically. Somebody might bring a track through. I might want to talk about a certain subject. I might want to hit radio a certain way or not think about radio at all - either or.

This album is what I call a "Friday/Saturday" record - a good feelin' record. People know me to make records that have a really good feeling. So this record is more or less full of "today is a good day" type of feelings.

@Q: You've titled the album Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray. It has a movie feel - from the album cover designed like a movie poster to the first two tracks being a coming attractions trailer and a theme song. Where did the idea to approach this album like a movie come from?

A: Well, you know every singer wants to be in some type of movie. That's something I would like to do, too. I always thought the one-sheets for movies were very interesting. After watching a lot of movies all my life, I figured I'm gonna do this album Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray. I started thinking about movies I liked such as Uptown Saturday Night and The Mack. Emcees and rappers always do a little spoof off of "black exploitation" movies, but I ain't seen too many R&B cats who do spoofs off of movies. Since this is my label and the creativity is 100% mine to dream as high as I want to dream, I threw this movie idea together in my head over three months time.

@Q: Where did your nickname "Ray Ray" come from?

@A: My childhood name is Ray Ray. Everybody in my hood called me Ray Ray or Ray. So if somebody comes up and calls me Raphael, I know how long you've been knowin' me...which isn't a bad thing. But my mother and my cousins called me Ray Ray. This album is Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray - with the Cougar car `cuz that's how I grew up...with Cougars, Falcons and Mustangs. I wanted to show that side of me.

With my last record, Instant Vintage, I showed how far I could go off on a deep edge. Actually, it wasn't that deep to me. But compared to most of today's music, it would be considered deep.

@Q: So you just wanted to have some fun with this one?

@A: Yeah, basically I just want to have some fun. I'm in the record business, but I want to have fun while I'm doing it. I don't wanna take everything so serious. I AM serious about my music, but the industry is not that serious. I made a record that I truly believe in and love at the same time. I kept the integrity that I need for myself and my fans.

@Q: How would you describe the difference between this character "Ray Ray" and Raphael Saadiq?

@A: The character of Ray Ray is this hood cat with a commercial edge on life...and nobody knows how he got it. Basically I got it walking around as a kid...seeing all the murders, knowing all the drug dealers, watching my friends who grew up kinda square get turned out by the city of East Oakland. Ray Ray becomes a tough ally to the world and the world begins believing in him because he earned his nickname from his peers by way of the street.

Everybody knows Raphael Saadiq the soul singer, which I love the most. But it's funny to look back at Ray Ray. His mission nowadays is to grind CDs. It's hard for R&B to be a part of mainstream radio these days. So Ray Ray is here to show them "how it can co-exist in the game." Ray Ray opens up his jacket on the street and has a gang of CDs in it. Instead of selling dope, he's selling music - the cush, uncut CDs. So the game is flipped. It's not just hip hop in the street anymore. "Now, R&B is a way of life that can positively affect the people, too."

@Q: Most of the old "blaxploitation" movies were pretty violent. But on your first single, "Rifle Love," when you get shot, you get shot by love - as if Cupid is packin' an AK47 for the 0-5. Is that part of your new gospeldelic message?

A: At first that song was called ("Righteous Love"). But one day I was mumblin' - I'm a mumbler - and somehow I said "rifle." So I had to turn it into some Cupid type love. You hear AK47's on Dre's or 50's record. Because we're the same people, I want to hear some of that, too. But I wanted to write about what they don't write about. It should really freak people out.

People are used to hearing me sing love songs. When they hear the rifle, they get all spooked out. "We gotta take that rifle out!" But I say, "Well what about when The GAP Band had 'You Dropped A Bomb On Me' with bombs goin' off in the backgound?"

I realize now that I probably shouldn't have had the cocking of the gun along with the shot...that may have been a bit too much! So I have had gun-less edits done for radio. It's kind of cool to be the R&B cat that they had to tell, "Take the guns off!"

@Q: Folks tend to believe there has been a lot of drama between you and your brother D'wayne as well as you and Dawn Robinson of Lucy Pearl. Yet you reunited with both those singers on "Rifle Love." How did that happen?

A: I ran into Dawn at the Urban Network convention in Palm Springs. We were both going to see Teedra Moses perform. Dawn is friends with Teedra. After the show, we bumped into each other and started talking. She expressed some concerns about wanting to do Lucy Pearl again. I was like, "Cool." I'm pretty open and drama-free. I said, "Call me. Let's talk."

@Q: This was the first time you had talked to Dawn since Lucy Pearl broke up?

@A: Actually, I saw Dawn one time while I was working on Instant Vintage and we were cool. But right after that is when all the press drama came out. So this was my first time seeing Dawn at the Urban Network.

@Q: Who approached who?

A: Neither one of us approached each other. I had to walk that way. It was courteous to just speak, so we did. From there the conversation just went from A to B. She was telling me about what she was doing. I told her what I was doing. I told her when I got back to L.A. I would give her a call.

When I got back, I got the idea to put Dawn Robinson and Dwayne Wiggins on "Rifle Love." I have a version of "Rifle Love" by myself which I like a lot. Some people like it better than the version I did with them. But - at the end of the day - I'm a business man. I don't hold any grudges. You wanna work, I'm down.

I know a lot of things now that I didn't really know back then. I know how to really talk to people before I start working with them. "This is what this job entails. This is what we need to do. This is how it's going to work. This is why it didn't work last time. This is how it can work this time. Are you down with that?"

Q: What will be different this time?

A: What will be different this time is there's no middle man. I'm the man. God's the man and I'm second to that. My whole view on it is God put this thing together. If you really want to do it, let's do it drama-free. Now I know that's completely impossible. But at the same time, we all know we need to do this record, then go on the road for a certain amount of time, which is how we're going to sell these records. Are you down with that? That's where I'm at right now. If you're not, I truly understand. Then I have to do something else...which would probably be me and Kenny Edmonds. We're talking about doing some things, too.

It's like, "Are you going to be D1 in basketball or are you going to be an amateur?" Dawn seems like she's ready to step up to the plate. I'm ready to step up to the plate. Now we're trying to see if Q-Tip is real about it. I think we have a great shot at having a big record with Lucy Pearl.

@Q: You just said Q-Tip, not Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the original third member of Lucy Pearl. You went to Q-Tip from Ali's other group, A Tribe Called Quest, to replace him? What's up with that?

@A: Nothing really. We had some rough times and he's a little disheartened about how it went last time. Ali's a really good guy, but really stern. It was going to be too hard to convince him, so I was like, "Why convince him?"

@Q: But why go to Q-Tip? That's like rubbing salt in the wound.

@A: Well, Tip has been my friend just as long as he has been. Shaheed is a great talent. I'm a fan of his production. I'm a "Tribe" fan, whether it's Phife, Q-Tip, Ali or Jarobi. But me and Q-Tip are really better friends. We listen to music together, laugh and make jokes about different people in the industry from back in the day. I was talking to him on the phone one day, bullshittin', and was like, "Yo, you know what I was thinking? YOU should do Lucy Pearl." He said, "I'm down. Let's do it."

I think that's BIG! He rhymes - he's an MC. He produced most of the music for Tribe...way more than Shaheed ever did. He did almost all of the hits except for "Hot Sex." He plays keyboards. So Tip can play and MC, which will take a lot of stuff off of me. He'll (produce) 5 songs, I'll do 5 with Jake & The Phat Man and we'll all work together.

@Q: So Raphael, Dawn and Q-Tip are the new Lucy Pearl, done deal?

@A: Yes.

@Q: And you'll start work on that after you finish promoting Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray?

@A: Either Lucy Pearl or Tony Toni Tone'. I really want the Lucy Pearl project to be next because it's the newest...it's young.

@Q: Now what was the process for getting D'Wayne from Tony Toni Tone' on your album?

@A: Getting D'Wayne back for my album...that's my brother. I just called him and said, "I've got this record, you should check it out and come sing on it. If we're going to make this comeback, people should see us together." And he came through.

@Q: Are you going to shoot a video for "Rifle Love?"

@A: We're not going to shoot a video right away. The money that I would use to shoot a video, I say "Why?" I might as well go on the road and let the people see me - go into the markets and visit radio. Later I might shoot some type of live video.

I really want to go touch the people - play places I've never played before. This is a new label and a new me. I want to go back to Class A - Promoting Records 101.

Q: You've got 14 new songs here. "Chick Like You" has single written all over it. And you're introducing somebody special on it: rapper Allie Baba.

@A: "Chick Like You" is a potential next single. It's an up-tempo song. Everybody loves up-tempo songs with a great melody. It's one of those songs that's catering to women. Catering to women is my thing. They buy records (chuckles) and they're beautiful.

I loved "Chick Like You" since the day we started creating it. A friend of mine, Michaelangelo Saulsberry (formerly of the group Portrait), came by and played this track for me. I immediately started singing to it and ran to the mic. He said, "That's it! That's it!" We just kept building. I was trying to get Ludacris to come rap on it, but Ludacris was so busy and so hard to get up with. After that, I just said I'm not looking for nobody else.

Allie Baba is my nephew. I didn't let him rap on the record. He came in here one night while I was gone and rapped on it himself. He told me, "If you gotta get somebody big, I understand, but this is my version. If you can use it, use it."

@Q: That shows a lot of heart. He just came in here and recorded on your track while you were gone?

A: He had one of my engineers help him.

@Q: Did that impress you?

@A: Well, he really wants to do this really bad. In this industry you've (typically) got to have a big name. There are a lot of bandwagon people here. Everything is about who you know and who's on your record, so of course you want the bigger name. That's what they respond to. This one guy told me, "You are Raphael Saadiq! You can't just come out with a nobody on your record! You need somebody like Ludacris so people can say, 'Ah, Ludacris is still down with him.'"

That has some validity, but Hot Boys didn't do that. His thing was that I'm not new. The Hot Boys were new and could just come with their own people and blow it up. My whole thing is you gotta bring 'em up when you bring em up.

@Q: So this is Allie Baba's professional debut?

@A: Yeah, this is it.

@Q: You met Teedra Moses at Urban Network and have recorded TWO songs with her on your album: "Chic" and "I Want You Back." What impressed you about Teedra to write and sing two songs with her?

@A: Teedra wrote on both of those songs with me. I just couldn't see taking her voice off and putting anybody else's voice on it. I love her voice.

@Q: "I Want You Back" sounds like another future radio winner.

@A: "I Want You Back" is real uptempo. The bass is very heavy on it. And "I Want You Back" is the big American saying. Somebody is always wanting somebody back.

@Q: You and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds collaborated on "Not a Game." You do the same kinds of things - artist/writer/producer - but in different ways. How long have you known Babyface and is this the first time you've worked with him?

@A: We did a song for the Soul Food soundtrack called "Boys and Girls." We also just worked on the Rock the Vote song together (a remake of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody"). I played bass on that for him.

We always talk. He calls me his little brother. His mom says we look alike. I saw her one day at the airport. She walked up to me and was like, "Are you one of my sons?" I said, "Who are you?" She said, "I'm Kenny Edmonds' mother." I said, "No, but people do say we look alike." They've been saying that since the early days of the Tonys. It's a little ongoing joke with us.

@Q: How did "Not a Game" come about between you and Kenny?

A: The way we hooked up together to do "Not a Game" is I always wanted to do something with Kenny. I saw him at Prince's after party at House of Blues. He was like, "There goes my little brother." I was like, "Yeah, well you need to get on your little brother's album!" I had been drinkin' a little bit...had a bowl of courage that day.

@Q: Some "TANQUERAY!"

@A: Had some Tanqueray with me that day! So when I did "Wake Up Everybody" for him, I brought a copy of "Not A Game" to let him hear it. He said it was cool. After that, he went on the road for a couple of weeks. When he got back, we cut it at his studio, Brandon's Way.

@Q: You've got another song titled "Detroit Girl." What is it that sets Detroit's girls apart from the rest?

@A: On the record I say they're kinda ghetto yet sexy. There are a lot of girls I've met from Detroit who are ghetto as hell. Then I've met Detroit girls who came up through private schools that are STILL ghetto, but beautiful, classy, talented and know how to treat a man. You just feel good around them. Being that the song is a steppers song - and R. Kelly OWNS Chicago - since I couldn't come out with "Chicago Girl," I said "Detroit Girl."

@Q: Now, you've worked with all of these ladies in your career from Kelis and Jill Scott to Joi and Truth being on your label and on and on. Inquiring minds want to know if you have anything at all going on with any of these ladies?

@A: Nope! And if I tell ya...I'd have to kill ya!

No, really, nothing is going on between me and any of these ladies. They are very talented and I'm lucky to work with them. I think because my voice is really high, I can relate to them vocally. I can do some of the things that they do and think how they think, vocally - and it goes both ways.

If I come up with a great bed of chords, they can just write to it. Like, I love the way Kelis writes. She doesn’t get a lot of props for that. Teedra is ridiculous as a writer, too. Joi is like the mother of the REAL funk...from classical, spirituals and old hymns to Betty Davis - the funkiest records to the folkiest. She's so well rounded. She did a lot of background vocals for OutKast and Organized Noize that most people don't even know about. She can go way out there. And Truths' voice is so strong, you have to make sure you're giving her the right kind of songs to sing for that strength.

I know what to do with all those kinds of voices. That's why I work with all these different ladies.

Then I can also work with a D'Angelo, who has both a low voice and a crazy falsetto - who can sound like a lady and kill it like Prince. It's easy to play for people who are very melodic.

@Q: OK, but is there ever temptation with the beautiful ladies being here late at night alone with you? Has anything physical ever come close to jumping off?

@A: Um...I'm pretty sure if I was into Truth's breasts, something would have happened. Truth always comes in with her breasts all in your face! But I wasn't really into Truth's breast like that. I just ain't a titty man, so... (cracks up) "Just jokes Truth!"

They're all hot chicks! I mean, Teedra's hot, too. Joi is like family. Jill is married....

I guess the most important part for me is satisfying them with the music. I look forward to the day of completion and they just being happy. As a producer, you have to worry about people liking what you do. That's the challenge. So unless it's just killing you (not to get with this person)...but it ain't really been like that for me yet. Now, if I was producing in Brazil...it would be a problem.

@Q: As high profile as you are as an artist, you've never been linked with anyone - famous or not...no photos or anything. You sing all these love songs, so it's fair to ask do you have a girlfriend or are you available?

@A: No, I'm not available. I've dated someone for about 8 years now. I've just never brought her to the press. She has her own life. She did go to the Grammys with me the year that I won. At the time, she always said she was the best kept secret because I never had her out around the press. It's not that I tried to hide it. I guess I just always wanted it to appear that I was available - which is not a real cool thing. But I do like to make people feel like I am available. And she was cool enough to let that crack like that.

She wasn't the type that needed to be like "I'm going here and there with you." I won't say that that was a good thing for her. But she was cool like that. She had her own world. She wasn't a part of the industry. She didn't like L.A. She was just a really cool lady. When I met her, we were just friends for three years. We didn't fool around. She didn't believe in relationships lasting. And I was that dude with the love songs saying, "What do you mean? I believe in love!"

I guess I got that "loner" thing from my father. That's why I always stay under the radar. I always like to roll out by myself. Things you do with girls are, like, go to Napa Valley - sip wine and go to a spa. But giving my whole life up to the industry, why should I do that? I don't really owe them that. That's the way I felt. You've got the music. I'm not trying to live my whole life in the music "industry." It's not like I was trying to be secretive. That's just how I roll. When I was with the Tonys, we moved like a little army. None of us wanted our girls around.

@Q: So is this lady past tense or present tense?

@A: We're really close, good friends. We're trying to work it out. But I'm still caught up in this crazy world of the music business and I don't really know where it's gonna take me.

@Q: You saved a couple of message songs for last on the album. The first one, "Grown Folks," sounds like it was ripped straight out of Curtis Mayfield's notebook. What inspired it?

@A: I'm saying that grown folks need to get it together before kids can even think about getting it together. The way it is Biblically written, things are NEVER going to get back together. So, I sang, "Help the grown folks / They need more help than the children do."

Your mother may be strung out on drugs and you want to go to school. In the song, the daughter wants to go to college, but knows that some debt comes with that. She gets a boyfriend who ends up being a pimp. She chose to live with him and go against her father's wishes because Dad was nowhere to be found when she was growing up.

The way the rhetoric goes, a child needs that two parent foundation, but Black homes are broken up a lot. And when there's a broken home, there's a hole there that allows someone else to infiltrate and convince a child to go in whatever direction they tell her/him to. When a family is together, it's harder to come in between...though sometimes it still happens. Somebody can come and molest a kid or make him sell drugs because the father or mother isn't there. Somebody can get a hold of a kid and tell them that the gang is their family now.

I now know that I was really privileged to have my father pull the trick on me by saying, "You're gonna get more trouble from me than you're ever gonna get from that dude you thought you were scared of!" My father had a real stern hand when speaking to us.

Grown folks need to be strong enough to put it down - poppin' up in their child's classroom once a week if that's what it takes. You can't expect teachers to do it. They can't say nothin' to kids no more! The kid might bring a gun and shoot them.

Kids don't want to do that, though. They don't want to be completely bad. If they can't compete in math or readings skills, then they're embarrassed in class and don't want to go to the blackboard. But they can compete on robbing somebody because they know how to do that. So grown folks have to help them compete - understand that it's okay to disagree or just admit that they don't know something.

Math wasn't my strong subject. I was a C student. I was never afraid to say, "I do not understand." I was the kind of person who had jokes. I could talk about your mama AND your brother. So I'd never give you the upper hand to talk about me at the board. I'd stay after school and tell the teacher, "I don't understand and it's your job to help me!"

I want to say also that I wasn't just talking to the urban world but the whole world. But, really, I was talking to my people. I hope that the song is like an altar call for Black people and every other type of people. Not meaning that I'm gonna be anywhere preaching no further than where I am right now. I just feel like "Grown Folks" is what I can say on a record and hopefully somebody will listen to it and get it.

Now, I don't have any kids so, yeah, I do have some nerve saying, "Take your kids on your vacation." All my friends who have kids are like, "What the hell are you talkin' about?!" But sometimes you have to. You don't want to end up like Eric Clapton (the rock guitarist whose son had a fatal fall while he was on the road). You can't leave the kids home all the time. I'm not knocking him for doing that. I'm just saying right now I know he wishes he could turn the clock around and have his son with him when he plays a session for Elton John.

For me to sing a song like that, there are probably people out there who don't believe any Black people are thinking like that. I want to let them know that there is.

@Q: You've been doing that since your Instant Vintage album where you described your music as "Gospeldelic." You brought a lot of positivity to the airwaves with songs like "Be Here" and "Still Ray." Please explain your concept of Gospeldelic music?

@A: I had to come up with a name for my sound. I was forced to because of the neo soul term that was put out there. I didn't want to be a part of that. I didn't want to be considered "The Godfather of Neo Soul" - even though, in all right, Tony Toni Tone' probably was that. We didn't feel like we were neo soul. We were more commercial than neo soul. We had hit records like "Little Walter," "Baby Doll" and "It Never Rains In Southern California." Those songs were not about head wraps and incense. They were for mainstream radio.

So I came up with "Gospeldelic." The "gospel" part means there is some truth to what I'm saying. The "delic" means psychedelic, like Jimi Hendrix and George Clinton might hit it. It's funky. And it’s also fun. We're not taking ourselves too serious.

SO that's why I came up with Gospeldelic. There's some truth to what I say, some funk to what I say and some fun to what I say...and it's all me.

@Q: Segueing to Funkadelic, tell me about this guitar here.

A: This is a white Stratacaster guitar that I had Parliament Funkadelic sign on the front and George Clinton sign on the back.

@Q: You've had Maurice White, Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson of Earth Wind & Fire, P-Funk cats, songwriter Leon Ware and many others in your studio. You're really in touch with the veterans and legends of the industry. It's not just lip service or you just sampling their records. You bond with these people. What are your relationships like with these legendary older gentlemen of the music world?

@A: (Guitarist) Rob Bacon told me about Leon Ware. I didn't even know he lived in L.A. When I found that out, I wanted to meet him. He came over here one day and we ended up talking and hanging out. He's seen people come up and go down, take a spin and regroup. He's been there, seen it and tells me about it. I'm experiencing the same things now. He's told me about his life - from being a cab driver to getting his first gig as a producer to the Marvin Gaye stuff (the I Want You album) that I love so much. Leon is over here at least three times a week. And when he's not here, I miss him.

God brought Leon and all of these people into my life because they are teaching me things to help me stand up and be strong.

Maurice White is another incredible person I can't even believe I'm standing next to sometimes...especially when we are on the mic singing together or he's letting me write stuff for him and he actually likes it. As huge as he was to a coliseum filled with people, I feel like I'm a million-plus people when I'm watching him in the studio. Everybody knows he's battling (Parkinson's Disease). To see somebody come back from that and sing the way he does and still have the urge to write music brings tears to my eyes. I think, "Who am I to say I'm tired or I wanna go to the house?" Seeing Maurice really gets me amped.

I'm always trying to steal Earth, Wind & Fire's tricks. I'm pretty good now, but I'm still like, "How did you do that?" It’s like watching Michael Jordan play basketball. He's good, but he's really just doing standard things - footwork, pivoting, etc. You wouldn't know that unless you studied basketball. With music, Maurice did standard things that nobody would even think about.

Actually, the whole reason behind the Ray Ray album is Maurice White. He told me he always saw Earth Wind & Fire as theatre. A light went off over my head, and I started creating Ray Ray.

@Q: Are you going to bring the theatricality of this Ray Ray movie to the stage?

@A: Yep. I'll be wearing the same suits and shoes. And out here in L.A., I will have the Cougar sitting somewhere outside, like, the House of Blues. As you come in, you'll see it outside. I may even drive off after the show in the Cougar.

@Q: Your other current incarnation is as CEO of Pookie Records. You started your own record company and have your own studio. You've signed Joi and Truth Hurts. Tell us about the evolution of Pookie Records.

@A: When I first started Pookie Records, I thought it was going to be really hard and that I would need a partner - just to get in the doors that I wanted to get into. So I wound up doing it with Alan Kovak at Beyond Records (through BMG). That didn't go very well, so I decided to get the best distribution deal I could and strike out on my own.

The first record I put out was All Hits: Live At The House of Blues, which did pretty well for no radio airplay. I guess I've always been really aggressive in wanting to have my own label. Right now it's so trendy to have your own label. But I felt like I could hold up the banner if I just do what I do, service the people who love what I do, then get newcomers when I go on tour.

My new mantra for the label is reaching the people, getting into the hood and actually playing for them - good music at that! Some artists make great records for the major labels, but when they go independent, everything turns crappy. That happens to a lot of R&B acts because, number one, they don't have anywhere to record. That's why I bought a facility where I can make the quality of records that I've always made - or better.

@Q: Everybody knows you're from Northern California, but you set up your company in Southern California. Why?

@A: I decided to move to L.A. and buy a studio because it is a really big hub for me. Why have them fly to Sacramento or Oakland if they're in L.A. - shooting a video for the single, but their album isn't done yet? My chances of getting a song on OutKast's new album or Kanye West's latest production are better if I'm in that mix. I can always catch people running up and down the street. Like when Jill Scott was in L.A. shooting an episode of Girlfriends, she came by here afterwards and we did a song.

@Q What other productions do you have coming out?

@A: I did a song on Teedra Moses' album called "Take Me." I also did a song for a new artist on Elektra called Governor. Before I started my album, though, I had to stop producing other artists so I could get my record done.

@Q: We understand London loves you.

@A: The BBC and Radio 1 - the two big radio outlets there - added two different songs from my album: Radio 1 added "Grown Folks" and the BBC added "Detroit Girl!!"

@Q: What do you love most when you travel overseas to London?

A: What I love about the people is they're collectors. They know what's going on and have a deep appreciation for music since way back. Cats like Quincy Jones were in Sweden back in the day. Europe has always had that appreciative love for Black American music.

The weather is not that great, but there are a lot of great string orchestras there. And their recording engineers are crazy technical! I want to record something live over there one day.

And I love the clothes! It's always fun to go shopping and come back with nothin' nobody has over here. I love that!

@Q: Wanna shout out your favorite store?

@A: Paul Smith is my favorite store over there. There are also a lot of flea markets and different designers making stuff.

@Q: To close out on a home front note, we have “Election 2004” this November. What are your deepest political concerns?

@A: I would like to see medical free and taxes reasonably lowered. I'd like to see Bush only at home in Texas. But do I think that's going to happen? No. I think he's going to show everybody that he's a real gangster. I think Michael Moore making the movie Fahrenheit 911 was great, especially encouraging people to vote. But if Bush still wins, he'll be able to say, "See, you're vote doesn't even matter."

I think they have us all out on the dummy line. I don't think our vote means nothing. I'm with the whole vote thing and we've got everybody out campaigning for that. But if he wins now, his theme song should be "Ain't Nothin' But A Gangsta Party!"

I don't really get into politics like that. You can't NOT vote, then say, "See?!" So I vote and hopefully things go the way the rest of the country really wants it to go. But if you saw what happened last time - how votes got changed...how "gorgeous" got pushed out and still had to go sit down and play his role - that's some real gangsta stuff. It's as if he said, "Be a real playa to the game. You know how it goes. I won however I won. And nobody can do anything about it."

That's why I wrote the closing song on my album, "Save Us." All we can really do is look to God....

The Winans wrote this song called "I Know Someone Who Knows It All." I always admired that song. It says, "I'm not losing any sleep over who's coming in because Jesus is my friend. And I know someone - yes I know someone - who knows it all."

Sometimes God can be a little too deep for people. People are scared of what they can't control...from marijuana on up!

Like my dad used to say, "Make sure you read the comix before you read the serious part of the paper, 'cuz it'll drive you crazy!"


(October 2004)

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