Musiq Soulchild is a reinvigorated artist these days and he’s got Syleena Johnson to thank for the change. The two decided to create a full-length album after a chance encounter at a recording studio where they were both working on music with reggae producer Kemar McGregor for his compilation project. One duet led to several more and now Musiq Soulchild and Johnson are ready to release the album, 9ine on September 9.
The fusion of R&B, soul and reggae heard on the lead single, “Feel the Fire” is a welcome departure for Musiq Soulchild, who has long-sought an opportunity to introduce listeners to his musical capabilities outside of his popular love ballads. “I love R&B but the reality is that not everybody listens to it. I said let me try to entertain people according to the music they like to listen to,” he says. “I was looking to do something outside of what people have come to expect of me. Syleena was in the same space too.”
Lyrically, Musiq Soulchild says listeners can expect several songs about his mainstay themes of love and romance. Currently single, he admits that he is still learning how to practice what he sings when it comes to the demands of love. “It’s not that I don’t want a relationship but there are more pressing things to maintain a livelihood and handle my business. I can talk about it [relationships] all day but talking and living something are two totally different things, and I am finding that out on so many different levels,” he reveals. “But it’s not to say what I speak on is not real to me. But to live it consistently and maintain these other things is a challenge.”
Few challenges are as great as being a soldier on the front lines of war. Hip-hop recording artist, Supa Nova Slom understands this firsthand as an active duty soldier who has just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. On the surface it appears to be a drastic step going from spitting socially conscious lyrics as one-third of The Cosnarti (a hip-hop group supported by Bill Cosby) and sharing the stage with the likes of Erykah Badu and T.I., to becoming a soldier. But for Supa Nova Slom, the mission remains the same, which is spreading his message of health, wellness and empowerment. While overseas he says he learned that despite many soldiers focused on staying fit not everyone was embracing the military’s healthy eating options. “The military has a whole structure available but the soldiers are not informed on how to implement these principles. The average person around me wasn’t informed about that or connected to it and didn’t see the value. He or she comes from a fast food culture, so some of those bylaws of valuing one’s body through eating didn’t translate,” he shares.
With locally grown fruits and vegetables in Afghanistan, Supa Nova Slom began actively juicing and his fellow soldiers quickly became intrigued. He hopes that the military will offer more creative strategies to market wellness as he does through his book, The Remedy and documentary, Holistic. “A lot of times with our culture you need the platform to make it hip. The military has some health fairs but it’s not engaging. You just get a pamphlet. They need people to come out and make it fun so that people can be more engaged.”
In the meantime, Supa Nova Slom is currently in the states to help celebrate the 60th birthday of his mother, international best-selling author and holistic specialist, Queen Afua. On August 24, noon-6 pm, at the Nicholas Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, mother and son will be honored for their service in the wellness field.
Another birthday celebration occurred last week at Preserve 24 for Mike Muse, the one-man conduit for all things politics and pop culture. Affectionately known as “Obama's Million Dollar Baby,” Muse enjoyed a break from his political fundraising campaign for New Jersey Senate hopeful, Cory Booker. Swaying to the spins of DJ MOS were a bevy of wall street executives, restaurateurs and entertainment industry socialites, including MTV's Sway Calloway, celebrity publicist Tasha Stoute, TV Personality, Kwame Jackson and STEM University CEO, Andrea Peterson.
This Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the official anniversay event, led by Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, hopes to honor the legacy of Dr. King’s 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream” by galvanizing the community around initiatives to “realize the dream” on social justice issues such as employment, economic empowerment, women’s rights, LGBT equality and criminal justice issues including a call to reform the Stand Your Ground laws.
While Musiq Soulchild is realizing his dream of expanding his musical offerings, others are still waiting for Dr. King’s dream to come true.
The weekly column, On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.