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Musiq Soulchild talks love, soul music and community

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“I know this might piss some of y’all off, ‘cause everybody has their own special ones, but my favorite songs ever made by Musiq Soulchild are ‘Just Friends,’ ‘Love,’ ‘Yes,’ ‘Single.’ And my all-time favorite? That would have to be ‘So Beautiful.’ Yeah, that’s my top five,” says Musiq Soulchild.

So stated by the man himself. When you think about it, whittling your favorite Musiq songs down to a list of five is almost impossible. The man whose musical persona seemingly personifies the term neo soul has written a soundtrack for our lives. Most, it not all of it, is centered around love.

“It’s an interesting that you would ask me about love, ‘cause I could talk about this all day. I don’t have to prepare any speeches for love. It’s something that I engage with on a consistent basis,” says the singer.

“Love is a lifestyle, he says. “You have to become a representation of love. You have to become a pro-active contributor to love. I don’t think it’s something that you just sit back and wait on. It’s not like you work your job and you sit back and you’re just supposed to get paid. Love is a choice. It’s an action that you have to perform. I think that people have this unrealistic expectation that people are just supposed to love them. I’m sorry to break it you, but ain’t nobody supposed to do nothing [sic]. If someone chooses to show you love, it will be to your betterment to appreciate that because nobody has to love you.

“Love is just a word that we’ve chosen to use to describe something that we can’t fully explain. I mean, it’s like, as a culture, we’ve just all agreed on using the term, but I think people get so caught up in the word that they don’t allow themselves the privilege to live out what it actually might be.”

As it relates to love and his music, Musiq believes it’s about perspective.

“The best that we can do is to just tell our stories about our experiences with love, in the hopes that others can either identify with it, or learn from it,” he says.

For those growing up in the hip-hop generation, Musiq’s experiences as shared in “Just Friends” were made more readily identifiable because of the smooth beat box that opened up the song when it first came on. During an era when rough, rugged and raw were the main ingredients of the day, Musiq combined a hip-hop edge with an R&B swagger that made it OK for brothers to hum along to his tunes.

“Hip-hop music has always been a part of my life. The whole hip-hop generation, affiliation, situation …,” he says laughing. “Hip-hop music had that energy that spoke to me, and then you’ve got the whole soul music element and what hip-hop did with soul music, taking something that was already there and repurposing it and recycling it. I felt like that was a genius concept because it’s the law of life. Nothing really dies, it just always gets repurposed, replaced and reborn again into something new. So, I just thought that hip-hop music was a great representation of that, having the mindset that I have as a creative person, that’s very encouraging because that speaks to me in a way to say that no matter what I do, it’s always going to be there and you can always breathe new life into it.”

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