O’Jays members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams recently sat down with EBONY to discuss their final album, The Last Word, and why they’re still creating music with a message.
The seminal R&B group formed in 1958 with Levert, Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles, who passed away last month after a battle with cancer. To date, they’ve been awarded 10 gold and four platinum records with songs including “Love Train,” “Family Reunion” and “Use Ta Be My Girl” that have been enjoyed by generations of fans.
“It feels great. I still have some life in me, and I still love doing this,” Williams said about still making music at age 75.
“The best part is that you said ‘living legends,'” Levert, 76, added, laughing. “I love that part.”
The best friends added Eric Nolan Grant to the legendary group and created The Last Word. Although it is their 31st album, it is their first non-holiday studio album in 15 years.
“This is something that we were working on for quite some time,” Levert revealed. “With every great act that’s ever been in this business, there comes a time where you don’t hear from them. When they finally come back with something, [it’s] usually great and blossoms for the whole world. I always felt like we were due to have that breakout album again.”
Much like with their earlier music, the 2005 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees made a conscious decision push a positive message of love and unity to today’s learners. That effort can be heard on their singles “Stand Up (Show Love) and “Above the Law.” The fact that world not changing in a positive direction is “very sad, because we’ve gone nowhere,” Levert opined.
Williams, however, disagreed and called the need for social commentary “intriguing.” He added, “I think it’s time to give that message again, considering what’s happening all around us. It’s time to give it again and see if they’ll get it this time.”
The two nervously laughed about the state of the world. Williams told Levert that President Donald Trump, whom he referred to as “dude,” is driving divisive rhetoric and that needs to be balanced out by positivity
The Last Word, which both singers described as “legendary” and “good,” releases Friday, April 19 and is available on all streaming platforms.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.