Very few artists that begin their professional careers at a young age are fortunate to maintain relevance into their adult lives. Former Mista member Bobby Valentino is one of the lucky ones. With a slight name change to simply Bobby V, the Atlanta native is back with his fifth studio album entitled Dusk Till Dawn.

The ex-Disturbing Tha Peace singer sat with EBONY and spoke about his musical journey, his college experience, and much more.

EBONY: You came into the game at 16 years old, as a member of Mista. Now, you’re a solo artist on his fifth studio album. Talk to me about your experiences and what you’ve learned throughout your time in this industry.

Bobby V.: I’ve really seen the industry change. I was around when there was a lot of R&B music played, to the bare minimum of present day. I’ve had a chance to be a student of the game and now as an independent artist, I’m able to learn more of the business side of music. I feel like today’s more about the business of music, versus how good the music actually is.

I’ve been around during the time when people were selling 5 million records, to barely selling 500,000 – and they’re the hottest of the hot! I’ve just really seen the ins and outs of the game. But, I’m a survivor and I’m still here. I’ll just continue to keep grinding it out.

EBONY: In between your music career was a 4 year degree from Clark Atlanta University, along with a tryout for American Idol. Talk to me about those experiences and what made you decide to go to college in the middle of your music career.

BV: Both experiences were great – even me not making it on American Idol. I decided to go to college because as a group, we were working on our second album and it never came out. I had been out of school for so long, that I actually went back to the 12th grade. At that point, my parents played a huge factor in me enrolling to college. I earned my degree in Mass Communications with a focus in TV & Film.

Not making American Idol forced me to really go back to the drawing board and grind it out. That was the first season of the show, and I saw that I didn’t do a good job when I looked at the playback. My family really pushed me to try out, but once I made it passed the first round, I got so nervous! My nervousness prevented me from doing a good job. But, the overall experience was fun – being in front of Simon, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson was a great learning experience.

EBONY: Did missing the cut for American Idol affect your confidence as an artist?

BV: Nah, because it showed me that I needed to perfect my craft a little more. From that point, I began going to the studio every night. I started producing, I started doing beats – it showed me that I had to persevere. Fortunately, I stuck with it and landed in a better situation than if I would’ve been on the show.

EBONY: Talk to me about your new album Dusk Till Dawn.

BV: It’s pretty much a continuation of what I’ve done on my previous four albums. It’s real good R&B music – music that you can make love to from dusk till dawn. I actually co-produced on a few records and wrote all the records, as well. It’s difficult to really elaborate on it. I guess the only difference in this album is time. I’ve been able to travel more, see more, and really just embrace being a vet in the game.

I think I put 12 of my banging(est) songs on this album. I picked 12 bangers out of 60 or 70 songs recorded.

EBONY: What made you go so feature heavy with rappers on this album, and what were some of the recording sessions like?

BV: That’s what the people want. A lot of people want to see me work with a lot of different people, so I decided to really cater to the fans on this one.

The recording sessions were fun. K. Michele brought a lot of energy. Being in the studio with Gucci Mane was crazy. Red Café and [Lil] Wayne came down to record in Miami. Cassidy actually came down to Atlanta to record also. The entire process was fun because it was very hands-on. I like to be in the studio with the other artist. I like to be up close and personal, versus just sending them a song and have them recording.

It’s funny because I feel like I’ve worked with two different Wayne’s. I was one of the first R&B artists to collaborate with him, and he was just a rising star. Now, he’s this huge superstar! Believe it or not, I feel like he’s cooler now, than he was back then. You’d think it’d be opposite, but he’s a very real dude. He and I have a great chemistry – I love working with him.

EBONY: K. Michele found an avenue to promote her talents through reality TV in Love & Hip-Hop. Is reality TV something you’ve ever considered?

BV: When they edit TV, they can make a person look a certain way. K’s a real cool chick, and very down to Earth. I had a lot of fun recording with her. I’m looking forward to shooting the video for the record we recorded.

As far as I go, I don’t know. It’s possible. I’m actually working on a pilot with my family called Form School. It’s kinda like a reality show about my family and my family’s life. I’d never want to do something that’s degrading to me or what I stand for. A lot of people do those reality shows and they fall off afterwards because they’re depicted a certain way. If I do a show, I want to make sure it’s a good representation of me and what I stand for.

EBONY: What’s next for Bobby V?

BV: Aside from the reality show, I’m still working this album and working on a couple movies. I’ve done a few independent films – One with Ray J. and another called Should’ve Put A Ring On It. I’m also working on a clothing line and just trying to do as much as I can and continue working hard.

Steve Rivers has contributed to The Source, ESPN Rise and a host of other online publications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheKidSkoob.