How does one bend tradition without making it break?
How can you travel through space without leaving home?
How can a multi-platinum artist, after only two albums, turn his third into an exploration of futuristic funk without forgetting his roots in homegrown soul and old school hip hop?
Singer/songwriter Musiq has the answers to those questions on SOULSTAR; a collection of fifteen memorable moments of soul.
Recording as usual, in his hometown of Philadelphia, Musiq with his writing partner Carvin Haggins and his producer Ivan Barias, the trio known as Car Mu I, have gone so far beyond the tag "neo-soul" on SOULSTAR, you almost forget their previous collaborations, 2000's Aijuswanaseing and 2002's Juslisen defined that genre.
Musiq's desire to make his vision known gave Aijuswanaseing and honest quality. For Juslisen, Musiq learned the value of teamwork; how to jump start even the smokiest, subtle groove. "I allowed other people's ideas to filter through more, to let other people's talent shine on".
Those albums, influenced by Musiq's heroes, Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, are benchmarks of modern soul based. But on SOULSTAR, Musiq has added new colors to his palette of inspiration - James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone - while maintaining a style uniquely his own, finding even newer nuances throughout.
"With the changes on SOULSTAR, I'm trying to warm people to the idea that there's more to me than whatever "neo soul" is", says Musiq, letting audiences of all stripes know there's life beyond R&B and beyond Philly. SOULSTAR is a mix of his two previous albums, with a new creativity that sees the Musiq sound soaring into the future.
"I'm not necessarily going in a different direction than the last two records" says Musiq, of the retro-fit R&B of Aijuswanaseing and Juslisen. "I'm just going about things in a different way. It's the same road. I'm just in a newer car."
SOULSTAR had its start after a long bout of touring, giving the album a well rounded, worldly and honest outlook.
The first song written was the game-playing analogy of "Womanopoly". "Yeah, that's Carvin", laughs Musiq of his partner's wordplay; a story about an unhappy, ambitious girl moving up to Park Place to snag her share of the Community Chest.
Musiq expands his sound with his cover of the Rolling Stones' "missyou," "Performing and recording that song took me to not anger or sadness, but the space in between."
In between SOULSTAR's new ideas is an old soul - Musiq's voice; the very thing that made him a legend before he hit 25. The growth that signaled new ways of writing and production on SOULSTAR is clearly apparent on reasons. Musiq approaches "reasons" with the same blunt clarity, a song dedicated to music itself - the healing life force that's guided him when he's needed light, saved him when he's needed salvation, embraced him when no one else could. "It's my ode, my thank you to what music's meant to me."
Yet another highlight of SOULSTAR is "whoknows." The explosive ballad reveals an artist experimenting with his love of sound. Musiq embraces questions of uncertainty and vulnerability that come with new relationships.
For fans of Aijuswanaseing and Juslisen, Musiq wants them to know he's the same guy from a town filled with musical history, looking to maintain that heritage while stretching as an artist. "And for people who never heard my last two records, SOULSTAR is a journey into sound that's familiar and freaky. "SOULSTAR is an ode to those that came before me," says Musiq. "I strive to grow into the name 'Soulchild' every day. Both 'Soulchild' and 'Soulstar' are names to live up to, that carry a responsibility. I hope that I can help pave the road for another generation the way that past 'soulstars' have opened doors for me."
--- from the official Musiq website