Can you believe it’s been 20 years since the world was first introduced to R&B icon Maxwell?!
April 2016 will mark the 20th anniversary of his outstanding debut album Urban Hang Suite, which brought us some of our favorite Maxwell tracks including “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever,” and “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).”
If you’re like us and wondering where part 2 of the R&B crooner’s trilogy has been hiding, wonder no more! After talking with the good people over at Essence Magazine, Max gave us a long-awaited update on blackSUMMERS’night — the follow up to 2009’s BLACKsummers’night— and promises that fans will have their hands on the much-anticipated album sooner than they think.
This year marks 20 years since Urban Hang Suite. Wow!
I can’t believe that 20 years after doing something that I started when I was 21, would even mean anything, or even stand the test of time to the point where I would have an interview and it would be a mentioning point. It’s exciting for me to know that we made those choices back then, and they still kind of live in the hearts of people to this day. What’s really great about it is that I work with all of the same people, and I’m working with all of the same people on the new album that’s coming out this year. It’s always been a family type of thing, and I think that that’s what, maybe, has made it special. I never veered off and decided to go super pop and say, “Okay, I want to get on pop radio, I’m just going to go work with that producer, and I’m going to flip my style so that I can really make that big money and be everywhere on TV.” I just stayed with my crew, and here we are…We’re writing this new album. It feels, to me, even better than what we did twenty years ago.
So, blackSUMMMER’snight is coming?!
I’m so hyped about the new album coming out, which is so exciting for me, because it’s fresh and it’s different, but it is what I do. It doesn’t make you feel like, oh, yeah, that’s going to come out in 1996. You’re not going to feel that. At least I hope you don’t. (Laughs.)
We’ve been patiently waiting for this album.
People are like, “Why does it take so long? Why does it take so long?” Because there’s always a part of me that’s like, “Nah.” You know? I know I started the record, but have I lived enough of what I need to live to view it with the emotion that it needs, and then release it? I can sometimes feel like it’s okay to wait. It’s like … It’s not that I just want to torture people, because I know there are a few people, like, “When’s the album coming?” They see me posting things, and living, and they’re like, “What the hell is this about? Why are you running around, flying to Africa on safari? Where’s the album?” They don’t realize that living my life is what makes what they may get what it’s going to be sounding like. They think it’s … some factory or something. It never worked like that for me.
So living your life if part of your process?
It’s like, if I don’t go out there and get my heart broken, or get into situations, enjoy happiness, or whatever, just so that I can have that experience, then there’s really this hollow sort of thing that is released that may affect you, may touch you, but may not really grip you.
Meaning you’ve had years of material for blackSUMMERS’night?
I’m at the point with the album where it’s just like … With the passing of my cousin, and my grandmother passing away … Me turning 40, and being 42 now, and having a whole sort of new milestone in my life, where a lot of my mind is grown up, and I’m thinking in terms of the next 10 years, and what I’m going to try to do for the next ten years, which is something I never really … I mean, I did it, but I’m not doing it as much as I do now. I’m just hyped. We have two and a half years of just consistent, around the world, going everywhere, traveling, doing shows…It’s funny, because I remember reading Marvin Gaye’s biography when I was, like, seventeen years old, Divided Soul. He always said something that really stuck with me. He said, “You can rush to fail, or you can take your time to succeed.” I’m happy that I haven’t exhausted people’s visions to the point where they’ll never want to listen to me.
We had a chance to hear the first single, “Lake By The Ocean,” which is do dope. Everyone is so pumped for this album. What else can we tell the fans?
Yeah, well, there’s a song called, “Hostage.” We have this song called “Orphan,” that’s pretty much opening the album—it sort of talks about who I am and how my life has been. There’s a very orphan quality to my experience. It’s very up-tempo. We have this song called “Three,” that’s super funky, like … I don’t know how to describe it, because I’m not really a big toot my own horn type of person, but there’s some good things there. There’s a song called “Lost” that I did with Stuart Matthewman, and another one called “Listen Here.” It’s so exciting. The thing, to me, is that I’m always sort of in a way, like a lock, like clicking. It takes a long time before I have to realize that what used to be a rock is now a statue. Sometimes people have to tap me on my shoulder and say, “Look, dude, that’s a sculpture. You did it. Walk away. Put the thing down. Put the chisel down.”
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT ESSENCE
(Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)