Wednesday, June 06, 2007


YOURS TRULY had a chance to interview rising neo-soul singer-songwriters Dwele and Darien Brockington during a meet and greet at a suite in the Roberts Mayfair Hotel (in a bathroom—LOL) on May 30 , over Lee’s chicken, apple juice, and wine and host of about 10 other guests. The two artists were in town in St. Louis to perform the following night at the Missouri History Museum sponsored by Jack Daniels No. 7 Brand and brought on by Vanita Applebum Enterprises.

Here is an excerpt of what I discussed with the two talented brothas, beginning with Dwele.

MA’AT: Its been about two years since your last CD, “Some Kinda.” Are you working on any upcoming projects?

DWELE: “Yeah, I just been out on the road. Spreadin’ the music. Making things bigger. My next album should be out in August. I wanna kind of combine “Some Kinda, ” “Subject” (my fiorst album) along with “The Rise album (before “Subject”) and combine all those elements and bring them together for the next album. I’ve also done work with Common.

MA’AT: Is the album gonna be independent or on Virgin?

DWELE: I’m with EMI now. EMI is the label that was over Virgin.

MA’AT: Nowadays its become easier for new artists to break out now with the Internet, and MySpace, but you started your care on a major label, Virgin. What has your experience been working with a label?

DWELE: I didn’t get a chance to experience the independent world of selling except for ”The Rise” album, but that was strictly out the trunk. I was independent for about a week.
Everything I know is being under a major label. I see the pluses and negatives of being on a label.

MA’AT: Talk a little about that.

DWELE: One plus are money is set aside for videos and marketing Things that indy artists may not have up front. Even then in my situation, where it should have been a video, it wasn’t. It all comes down to each individual’s situation. I’m a step up from what I was yesterday.

MA’AT: What will be the title of your next album?

DWELE: I got a few titles. I’m still waiting. Once I put the songs together I will put a name to it. That’s how I usually do it.

MA’AT: Will you perform any sneak previews of the new album on your set at the Missouri History Museum?

DWELE: Unfortunately no. I’m not using my band. I just been out just performing songs people already know. Maybe when I come back with my album I will.

MA’AT: You are very prolific, musically. You play many instruments have you ever considered doing a jazz album?

DWELE: I thought about that. With a full band . I’ve never made a song using a band. I’ve always done it myself. Maybe I’ll touch that on my next album.

MA’AT: Do you see yourself growing more as an artist, musician or performer?

DWELE: More as a performer. Cause that’s what I’ve been doing more of. The person watching the show might say ‘Oh that was a good show , but when I started in 2000, I learned to have fun with the audience and enjoy myself more on stage.

MA’AT: What do you see yourself doing in your career in the next 10 years?

DWELE: Who knows. That’s what I love about this industry. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring you. Ten years ago I was rapping and I wouldn’t even think I would be singing. Who knows I may even do some acting.

# # #

MA’AT: When I was listening to you on Freeman Bosley Junior Show on Nicci Roach’s Nic at Nine segment, you called yourself “an R&B singer with soul.” Why?

DARIEN: Not taking away from what people doing right now, but when I listen to a lot of musicians and singers right now, there is no soul. There’s just a catchy song, lyrics and beat. The thing that’s missing is the soul. The essence. You don’t get to hear someone like Stevie, Donnie or Marvin. The music didn’t carry them. They carried the music with their voices. I understand the gift God gave me and not to be cocky but I feel that I have the same voice like those guys had 20 years ago.

MA”AT: Unlike Dwele, you are an indy head, working with Lil’ Brother. How has it working with them that helped you become popular?

DARIEN: They gave me my platform. My foundation. No one knew who I was when I hooked up with Lil Brother. In the indy world, they are a group you respect. All I did was do what I was suppose to do. Working with them has been such a pleasure and they give me an opportunity.

MA’AT: In recent years, it seems as though there has been a pattern in black music where unknown singers hook up with established artist , like Jill Scott and The roots, John legend and Kanye, mainly hip-hoppers, in order to get their stuff out there.

DARIEN: Yeah, it’s becoming a necessity because of the fact that music in general is in danger. Now we have to have an anchor to bring something on. Just in a short few years Erykah, D’Angelo or Bilal, didn’t have to be attached to somebody. Then it was shift where people weren’t checking neo-soul music

MA’AT: P.Diddy did the same with Carl Thomas

DARIEN: Carl is soul cat. That’s not typical R&B so it became necessary to have a someone a little bit bigger than you to get that stamp of approval. I think that’s why the trend exist.

MA’AT: Your first album. “Somebody to Love’ has been out for awhile. How well has it been selling?”

DARIEN: It’s been a lot of red tape, but I always find the positive. It has allowed people to pay attention to me outside Lil Brother. I can honestly say, I am seen more as an artist. It has touched different cities and states and even other countries. I see this album after I do more shows as a slow burner and after a year , a little more knows me or it will be one of those albums that you need to hear like Robin Thicke. Everybody loves “The Evolution,” but you need to hear the other stuff. You know what I mean? The album has definitely opened doors.

MA’AT: Is the buzz more East Coast or West Coast?

DARIEN: It started West Coast to the East Coast. Major cities. L.A. , DC, Baltimore. NY C and ATL.

MA’AT: What about your hometown in North Carolina?

DARIEN: Noooooooo, it was slow, but its been picking up. A lot of people who I know in my hometown for awhile didn’t know what I do. They see me on TV or on magazines and they ask me what am I doing. And I tell them I am working on an album and I tell them to go to the website and then they are shocked and telling their friends. People started talking.

; Do you see yourself more of a singer songwriter or performer? By just interviewing you, I can tell you are very animated.

DARIEN: I’m a nut. I’m silly. I’m more of a singer songwriter. The performing side, well, I’m learning. At one point, I was very shy. It was like let me get on stage and get it over it Doing enough shows with Lil Brother I started to enjoy it. I think I have something to put on the table

MA’AT: What do you see yourself doing in your career 10 years from now ?

: I have no idea. This industry you just never know. I would be happy to sustain myself in what I do.

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