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ThaWilsonBlock Magazine Issue58 (December 2017)

Keith Sweat on today's R&B: "Not the R&B that I know it to be" in Exclusive Interview

Exclusive Q&A w/ Keith Sweat about coming up in the game, what he thinks about R&B music today, and what fans who have yet to see his Vegas show, Keith Sweat: Last Forever can expect.
Take me back to 1987 when the album Make It Last Forever was released. 
It was a time of a new artist coming out with new music trying to make an impact on the music scene. So me dropping an album in 87, or music in 87, was to make a statement and somewhat different than what was out because you had a harder drum beat in the back of R&B music and sultry type of music. The music scene at the time when I came out was good but I helped to make it better. I don’t take credit for it because you had people like the O’Jays out and New Edition, those type of people. I just added to what was already out there with a different type of vibe. I kind of flipped the script a little bit along with people that I worked with like Teddy Riley.

What was it like working with him? 

Me and Teddy knew each other from back in the day so it wasn’t like I just went and grabbed him. We grew up in Harlem. We were already friends.

You have so many hits to date. What’s your all-time favorite song to perform live?
It varies. It definitely varies because I wrote basically every song. It’s not like I’m singing someone else’s music. I’m singing my own music. It really has a lot to do with the audience. Every show you might have a different audience who has their favorites. I might get screams from a song like “Nobody” and other places I go it might be “Twisted” or “Make It Last Forever.”

What was it like working with Johnny Gill and Gerald Levert during the LSG days?

It was great because they were two artists who had their own niche in the music industry. For me to be working with people who had been accomplished and out before I was out...I was a fan of Johnny Gill and I was a fan of Gerald Levert so working with people that I was a great fan of and for me to put together a group like LSG was phenomenal to me because I never thought I would be able to do anything of that sort ... putting a supergroup that millions and millions of people would enjoy.

What do you think about the R&B scene today?
It’s less R&B and more pop-driven. It’s not as R&B-ish as it was back in the day. It’s not the R&B that I know it to be, and the people that grew up in my era or before my era, or even a little bit after my era, knew it to be. Everything pretty much sounds very simple. Like back in the day, you knew who Dru Hill was, even though they had their own sound they were similar to Jodeci or Silk or even New Edition, everyone had their own identity in terms of music and everything sounded kind of different. Nowadays you get confused because all of the artists sound alike, and have the same producers. Back in the day you had Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, you had Teddy Riley, you had Quincey Jones, you had so many different producers, producing for different people that everyone had their unique sound.

Who are you listening to nowadays? Are you more old-school or into some of the new artists? 

I’m more of an...

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