Interview: Tyrese Talks New Album And The Fight To Keep R&B Music Alive

tyrese black rose
Makeba Giles

Makeba Giles

Content Creator and Curator at MELISASource
Makeba Giles is an Health, Family, and Lifestyle Blogger. She is also a Midwest Mother of four, and the Founder and Creative Director of MELISASource.com. |

EMAIL: [email protected]
Makeba Giles

Tyrese is a man who is not backing down.

With his new (and final) album Black Rose and his lead single Shame claiming the number 1 on 9 different charts and remaining at the top of the charts since the release, it is easy to believe that the hit R&B singer and movie star could not ask for anything more.

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But he is.

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Although Physical copies of the Tyrese Black Rose album are selling out at incredible speed in stores and online, and digital sales of the album are skyrocketing, mainstream radio has yet to embrace the project.

I had an opportunity to speak with Tyrese one-on-one about his thoughts on the overwhelming positive response he has received of the Black Rose album, his growing concerns with the state R&B and mainstream radio, and how he intends to fight to keep R&B music alive and on the airwaves long after the success of his final album.

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tyrese black roseMy heart, mind, and soul are floating above the clouds right now with all of the energy and the love that’s being shown for this Black Rose album.” Said Tyrese. “I’m very emotional [about it]. I was working on [this album] for three-and-a-half years, and during that time I went through some of the most challenging events I could ever imagine. So for the world to receive Black Rose on the level that they’re receiving it on, it means much more [to me] than the numbers. Much more than being number one.

I was fighting for custody of my daughter, I lost my relationship of 5 years, and I lost my brother – my friend (actor) Paul Walker. It took me out emotionally, and I couldn’t focus on recording.

Music is the only thing I have that’s still pure. It’s not motivated by money: you can’t pay me and put me in a recording booth to sing anything. If my mind and spirit is not right, you’re not going to get anything out of me.

Three-and-a-half years of me struggling emotionally to get in the vocal booth to record this album. They say that the depth of your struggle will determine the height of your success. My struggle was real, and now I’m feeling all the highness and success of the Black Rose album.”

Tyrese Black Rose 

After reflecting on the album’s success, Tyrese’s thoughts then shifted into the noticeable lack of airplay and media attention from mainstream radio – not just for his song Shame, but for all R&B Soul artists of color. He also talked about his perception of the R&B genre today, and how that perception served as an underlying direction for his Black Rose album.

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tyrese black rose

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“I feel that [the genre] of R&B has been a bit insecure. You don’t have to have a full R&B album with 15 rappers on it, or name-drop the producers, or do other antics it on order to get attention. I don’t have a problem with Hip-Hop, but [artists] can do a full R&B album, just like in the days of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

I grew up on R&B Soul music: Teddy Pendergrass, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Teena Marie – I was introduced to it by my mother and my father at a very young age, so it’s all I know. So imagine witnessing an animal that is near extinction – that’s how I see the current state of R&B Soul music – that it’s nearing extinction. It’s no longer televised at the Grammys – it’s in the pre-telecast – so it makes it feel like R&B no longer matters. Overall, the R&B [music] sales are down, and R&B artists are now finding themselves trying to rap or remix their songs with a Pop or Techno feel to accommodate mainstream radio and get airplay. No other genres of artists feel pressured to do that. There’s a similar vibe when it comes to race. Artists of other backgrounds who create R&B songs are played on all radio stations (Urban, Contemporary, Pop, etc.), yet African-American R&B artists seem to be restricted to Urban radio, regardless of their place on the music charts.

Music is music. It has no limits, boundaries, or sexual preferences. I never create limits for myself, and I don’t appreciate the limitations that mainstream radio seem to be placing on my music, and R&B artists as a whole.

People are not going to buy something that they don’t know exist. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years and I’ve paid my dues. I want my Black Rose album to reach as many people as possible – and not just me, but all R&B Soul artists experiencing the same thing.”

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tyrese black rose“My album being at the top of the charts for 2 weeks in a row sends a message: that R&B fans are still here, and R&B is not dead. I appreciate R&B/Urban radio, but I’m a little frustrated with the boundaries that my album is encountering with mainstream radio. An example is Sam Smith. His song, ‘Stay’ is being played on all formats of radio. My lead single ‘Shame’ featuring Jennifer Hudson has been number one for 2 weeks in a row. Same R&B Soul feel: why is my song only being supported and played on Urban radio? If it were Sam Smith, or Robin Thicke, or Justin Timberlake singing ‘Shame,’ it would be played on every radio format. Similarly, a few years ago I had a song called ‘Stay.’ It was number 1 on the charts for eleven weeks – but it was only played on Urban radio. Don’t get me wrong: I love Sam and Robin and Justin. I’m big fans of theirs, and I recognize real singers like them who can sing R&B. They are incredible and talented geniuses. Their music don’t deserve limits – and neither does mine. My music is for everybody, and I want it to be experienced by everyone around the world.”

 

Although Black Rose may Tyrese’s final album, he wants to make it known that he is not going anywhere. Putting out an open call for Usher, R. Kelly, and others to create albums that have more Rhythm, Blues, and Soul and less Techno and Hip-Hop, the ‘Drum Major of R&B Soul’ plans to do his part to ensure that real R&B music stays around for years to come.

Tyrese Black Rose 

On his ongoing fight to keep R&B Soul alive on the airwaves:

When it comes to music in any form, I think that if something is missing, you’ve gotta get in there. I wrote an open letter to Ryan Seacrest and to Elvis Durand (Z100 in New York) [about it]. It’s no different than when Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to Spotify and Apple.

I’m brutally honest, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable with what I’m saying right now, but change is uncomfortable. I know that everyone in the R&B community is going to benefit from me finally speaking on what’s been going on for years. I’m not gonna back down, and my message is not going to change. I may not reap the benefits of my fight, but I’m trying to break down the walls for those behind me to benefit from it. At the end of the day, I’m trying to do what I have to do to benefit the overall state of R&B Soul and the overall community of music.

This is not about Tyrese. This is about R&B Soul music. It needs more exposure, it needs more airplay, and it needs more sales and support. We deserve the opportunity for talents and albums to be heard and loved.

Tyrese Black Rose 

Tyrese is definitely a man of vision, purpose, and power. With all of the worldwide success of Black Rose, he could have easily only championed for himself and kept it moving. The fact that he is doing the opposite not only speaks to his passion for R&B Soul music and his compassion for fellow artists, it also speaks to the fact that this man – regardless of the billions of dollars in sales at the box office and millions in sales in music over the span of his 20 year career that he has – is still a very kind and giving soul. The grand combination will always result in nothing short of greatness.

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tyrese black rose

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Tyrese also gave some ‘behind the scenes’ details on his inspirations behind making and promoting the Black Rose album:

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On his direct and hands-on approach to promoting the ‘Black Rose’ album:

It’s simple: I’m focused and driven. I don’t operate in a place of pride and ego. Pride and ego are the number 1 killers. You must be able to move and operate in a state of confidence. I know that I need the world’s support, and I know that I won’t be successful if people don’t show up and help make a statement. So I never feel and make anybody feel like I’m bigger or better. I just always feel that there’s always more we can do as artists to promote ourselves. I always strive to inspire people, and I feel the best way to do that is by example.

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On the inspiration behind the song ‘Shame’

I was in a relationship for 5 years and I did and said some wrong things that I’m ashamed of. It’s not a song for perfect people: it’s for people who have done or said some things they’re ashamed of in their relationships. I thought it was the proper message and represents the proper energy of the overall album. It’s a confirmation that following your vision, following your gut instincts can lead to success.

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On his favorite current R&B artists:

It’s hard for me to listen to anything new. I’m like an old soul and I don’t really listen to a lot of today’s R&B. That why my [Black Rose] album sounds and feels the way that it does: I didn’t want to sing or do anything that feels like today. I told my team that I wanted everything about the direction of the album to be irrelevant. Not to force myself to be creatively different, I just wanted to go back to what I know of R&B and the feeling that I grew up with.

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On his Black Rose Documentary:

With everything that I’ve gone through and been exposed to, I’ve just been trying to tell my story and inspire people to remind them that whatever way your life and career starts does not dictate what the outcome of it is gonna be. You just have to stay focused. You have to dream beyond your reality, and not allow the area you grew up in to take over your life: if you decide that you want bigger and better things for your life, then it can happen.

Tyrese Black Rose 

On his secret to staying inspired through adversity:

You just gotta wake up and decide that you love yourself enough to stay the course. Life can present its challenges, and it’s only by the grace of God that you figure out someway and somehow to rise above it.

I’m always looking for the lesson in the things that I go through. I always ask: ‘what am I supposed to learn from this? What am I supposed to get out of this?’ I always want to learn something from everything. With each challenge that I go through, my mind is sharp, my emotions and my spirit feel way more resilient, and I am ready to take on the world.

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On tour plans:

I have full joint custody of my daughter now. I hope to do a tour, but the sponsorship has to be right. I’m committed to being home with my daughter.

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In a separate interview with the Associated press, Tyrese addressed the rumors circulating about him playing the role of the DC Comic hero Green Latern in the future, and his upcoming show with RevRun on OWN.

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Tyrese Black Rose 

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Tyrese Black Rose album featuring the hit single ‘Shame’ is available worldwide.

tyrese black rose

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1 Comment

  • I’m definitely disappointed that mainstream radio isn’t embracing Tyrese’s new album. I’ve heard people say they’ve called radio stations to request one of his new songs only to be told that the station isn’t and won’t play it. While I do believe that music should evolve and love some of the modern R&B songs out, I think there should always be a place and support for the old school. Kudos to Tyrese for taking on the challenge to fit to bring it back to mainstream radio!

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