R&B Songwriter Pen Pal Discusses Work With Game and Music Legends

Songwriter Pen Pal may well be one of the most prolific songwriters in the music industry. The Detroit-born creative is noted for his exceptional ability to pen (hence the name) a song upon request — all made to order and to the artists’ specifications. But don’t let the voluminous catalog of songs fool you, each is distinctly different, with one common denominator — they are all infectious melodies with even more remarkable lyrics. Case in point; “Better on the Other Side,” which Pen Pal composed for Game as a poignant tribute to the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

“I guess what I’m asking is, everybody bow their head for a legend/Don’t breathe for a second/Now let the air out and grab the hand of someone you care about …”

The song features such musical heavyweights as Chris Brown, Polow Da Don, Diddy, Usher,  Boyz 2 Men and Mario Winans.

In fact, talking with Pen Pal — aka “Mr. Write Now” because of his skill to compose upon request — was one of the more emotional and memorable interviews this writer has done. But it may be Pen’s willingness to express himself freely without the constraints of ego and hiding his feelings that make him such a formidable player in the game. -roz edward

What projects do you have in the works now?

I’m working on some songs for TGT, i.e., Tank, Ginuwine and Tyrese. I am also working with Grammy-winning producer Magnedo7 , he’s extremely talented. And of course I’m still working with Mally Mall as he continues to build his brand, Future Music Group. Mally is the King of Vegas.

What’s your motivation for writing music and staying in the game?

My nephew and my niece (chokes up), I want them to have everything. … The greatest things in life are truly worth fighting for. All those years I was working at it, I would wake up sometimes and think it was never going to happen for me. But don’t resign yourself to that, because when you least expect it, it happens.

What is the songwriting and composing process like for you?

I’ve gotten to a point that I do all the writing in my head, my mind is my pen and paper. As soon as a track comes on, I already know what it should say — it is really a spiritual experience. The words may not be there quite yet, but the direction is, and I know what needs to be said as well as the emotion behind what I am saying.

Who would you like to work with that you haven’t?

I have written for so many different producers, DJ Kahlil, Soul Shock and Karlin, too many to name. But I can say that there are three that I haven’t worked with that I would like to — Timbaland, Pharell and Tone and Poke of the Trackmasters. But I have written and worked with Scott Storch, and Jim Johnson whose track list is crazy — Souljah Boy, Usher, Beyonce, Eminem, Nelly and the list goes on.

What are you most proud of in your career?

The fact that I was signed to Clarence Avante, the godfather of black music, he’s a legend in the game. I am proud that I got to have a relationship with him and got that wisdom from him firsthand. The two years I spent signed to Clarence were truly a blessing.

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