Funny how time flies when you’re having fun enjoying the peak of your professional success while your personal life takes a private jet to total and utter failure, huh? I’ve read about your low first week sales of your please, baby, please-please-please-please-themed album Paula – about 24,000 in the U.S. and the embarrassingly low 533 copies in the UK, respectively. As far as the new music and the publicity campaign launched in support of it goes, like I mentioned recently, I look forward to the Law & Order: SVU episode it’ll inspire. With that said, Paula Patton is gone so let’s focus on something you might be able to recover: your relevance as the White Mike of R&B.
I know as an artiste, you felt compelled to take your pain and use it to fuel your creative process. I don’t take issue with that as much as other people do, but I do agree at the core that your methodology is off. The same goes for the music, which you admittedly recorded in about a month. You know, this may be very laptop label head of me to say, but perhaps you’ve should’ve taken a lil’ longer to work on Paula.
Say, about as long as it takes for the cable company to finally cut off your service for failure to pay the bill. That’s like three months, right? Yeah, that would’ve been sufficient enough time. Then maybe you could’ve called Pharrell, Jazmine Sullivan, Nicki Minaj, Faith Evans, Lil’ Wayne and other previous collaborators to spruce this project up. Or hell, you could’ve tapped a psychic to help you ask Marvin Gaye for advice. That is, if he’s not somewhere in the afterlife cursing you smooth out.
In the interest of fairness, you were going to suffer a decline even if you got Aaliyah to sing the hook on your first post-Blurred Lines single. You essentially fell into the success you experienced last year, so in some ways, it’s shrewd of you to release an album that was going to bomb so you can chalk it up as a “passion project.” However, you went a wee bit to far with this simpin’, pimpin’ so let me help you with your next steps.
It may be too late for you to win back the Black woman you married, but try very, very hard to win back the Black women who you desperately need to stay afloat. I bet that mainstream success felt good for a while, but unless you want to become the white SisQó, you best let that go and chase the TV One-watching demographic that’s kept you in business all these years. Right now, most of them seem less than impressed with both you and your material. Singing about a Black woman’s alleged suicide attempt will spur that sort of resentment.
Suffice to say, you’ve got to stop acting like a singing street harasser. That said in the very immediate future, here’s what you need to do mostly: go the hell away for a while. After you finish your contractual obligations to promote this album no one is going to buy, go sit down somewhere and be quiet. Don’t do anymore interviews or take anymore questions online. As a matter of fact, the only person who should be allowed to ask you a question anytime soon is your divorce attorney.
While you sit down somewhere in silence, plan out your next moves. Email all of those people I mentioned and start sending them ideas. You can sing about sex because sex is amazing, but do not sing any line that could be determined as “rapey.” The last thing your career reads right now is another thinkpiece demanding that your balls be sawed off and thrown in the lake in honor of basic decency.
And please, sir, bring back the bop in your music. For example, “It’s In The Mornin” and “Wanna Love U Girl.” You should also shoot for another “Lost Without U” and “I Need Love.” You need songs that make us think you’re Teena Marie’s son as opposed to songs that suggest women need rape whistles and restraining orders around you.
I know it sounds like I’m belaboring the point, but dude, have you heard your new album? Even if you want to sing about your pain, have you learned nothing from Mary J. Blige’s My Life. You can be sad and still give listeners something to do a lil’ shimmy to as they wipe the tracks of your tears.
I actually like your music – even back when you were dressed like 1969 and singing about cherry blue skies – so I want you to win. Question is, do you?