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Keith Sweat: Lasting Forever

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The man partially credited with introducing new jack swing (a mixture of R&B and hip-hop) has a name – Keith Sweat. Sweat and producer Teddy Riley embodied the burgeoning mixture between two genres already on a collision course. But, back in the late 80’s, they were just getting started with Sweat’s Make It Last Forever and forever changed music’s soundscape. But Sweat didn’t fade to black like a lot of the 90’s one-hit wonders – he has continually delivered hits time and time again.

Now, Keith has released a collection of great hits that span from 1987-1998, a first for the R&B crooner. The album reflects his five consecutive #1 albums, 17 soulful songs and AllHipHop Alternative sat down with Mr. Sweat for an insightful Q&A.

AllHipHop Alternatives: What made you guys put out the greatest hit collection?

Keith Sweat: Rhino Records was behind that. Basically it’s more like my career is not over. I don’t see it as one of those situations where I was even considering puttin’ out a greatest hit because I feel like the greatest hits is like the “best of,” when your career is done. I say im not done but you know me. I think if anything it should be the best of Keith Sweat .

AllHipHop Alternatives: Is it true that your signed to Swizz Beats?

Keith Sweat: Nah that’s not true. That’s not true at all. That was a rumor. Me and him have been talking and if I ever sign with anybody it will be a joint venture situation because I’m not trying to be signed to someone else’s label.

AllHipHop Alternatives: What are you up to these days career-wise? I know you had dropped an album maybe a year ago?

Keith Sweat: It had great reviews but I was honestly frustrated with the label I was with [Elektra]. The promotion and the marketing behind me it wasn’t no effort to make me the star or the “ celebrity” that I’ve been over the years. True effort wasn’t behind it a push wasn’t behind it and ain’t no love lost but it just wasn’t there.

AllHipHop Alternatives: Do you feel that industry may be too concerned with a lot of the younger artist these days?

Keith Sweat: I think we all artist like myself Charlie Wilson, Stevie Wonder, artist that have made a career and still have a fanbase. I just think Ron Isley has showed you. Luther has showed you that. We all got comeback potential. It’s all about the record at that point. Its all about people want if you got a hot record and having a record that people wanna hear. We can go and do shows because we got the hits, we got the records that people are like “Yo they got records.” We can go and do hour and a half show, those types of situations. I think its the people at the record labels who make the decisions , I don’t think its the fans that makes those decisions. I think that doing an injustice to the fans by making a decision like that because [industry people are] speaking for the masses instead of speaking for yourself. You can’t speak for people.

AllHipHop Alternatives: Did you, early in your career, were kind of put into the new jack swing category?

Keith Sweat: I think we started the hip-hop and R&B. I think that’s what it was. I don’t really consider it new jack swing. I consider it to be hip-hop and R&B. I think it was rap beats mixed with R&B music. I just guess its the label somebody gave it. I think I was doing R&B music because I had always listened to people like Isley brothers and teddy put some hip-hop beats on R&B music. I don’t consider what I was doing new jack swing, I consider what I was doing hip-hop and R&B.

AllHipHop Alternatives: For me, your greatest song was “Make It Last Forever.” What would be your personal greatest hit?

Keith Sweat: Really everything from my first album. Not one song stood out more than the other. I guess if one did it would probably be “Make It Last Forever.”

AllHipHop Alternatives: You were kind of on the notorious side for pleading or begging with the ladies. Was that by design and did those remarks bother you?

Keith Sweat: Honestly it never occurred to me, I write. If you listen to R&B music and you listen from the timeof Marvin Gaye and Stylistics, all of them did the same type of music. It was love songs it wasn’t about nothing else. Basically that’s where R&B has always been. If you think about it, if you go back to the stuff that they sampling, The Moments , Stylistics , Deftones and all of them – those were all love songs if you ever listened to their stuff. Whether in design that I did it was just that’s what I thought R&B ways are about. R&B was always a song you sing to ladies. It was never designed but it worked and it still works so if you think about it – women buy the records. If you just create a fan base on just soley women you gonna be in this game for a long time. Brothers buy me because the women like it.

AllHipHop Alternatives: Do you still do a lot of shows?

Keith Sweat: Yea, all the time.

AllHipHop Alternatives: Do you have any particular workout regiment or whatever. You don’t seem to have aged at all since like the late 80′s. Are you a vegetarian or workout a lot?

Keith Sweat: Yeah, I work out a lot. I work out crazy. I work out about twice a day. It’s probably an hour and a half in the morning and then an hour and a half at night. I eat right but sometimes you slip. I love Twizzlers. I gotta have Twizzlers.

AllHipHop Alternatives: Do you plan to do an independent label of your own?

Keith Sweat: It’s probably best for me because I go my own fan base. I still do what I do. I been writing all my songs for years so it ain’t no difference. My writing ability is just that. You gotta be 100%. When I sign to a record company they gotta be a Keith Sweat fan. You gotta be a fan of what I’ve done and what I can do and my music and you gotta come to see my shows. How can you consider yourself to say you got my best interest then I do a show somewhere and you don’t even be there to support me in my shows because you’re not a Keith Sweat fan. It’s just a number of variables that I feel that are important with dealing with a label or dealing with an independent can you find me at this point in my career.

AllHipHop Alternatives: You mentioned that you were one of the first singers to merge hip-hop and R&B. What are your thoughts on hip-hop music nowadays?

Keith Sweat: I’m a fan of hip-hop music. I just think what’s going on with the hip-hop game, you got more hip-hop than R&B before it was more R&B than hip-hop so I just think it has to be a fine line . If you notice a lot of music and samples are coming back from the R&B. You can’t knock either one out the game because they are very important to music. It seem like everything that could of been sampled has already been sampled.

AllHipHop Alternatives: You think R&B people are trying to be hip-hop too much or not distinguishing their own sound?

Keith Sweat: I really think R&B trying to be but it doesn’t work because if you’re hip-hop your hip-hop. Its bad when an R&B artist whose a great artist try to change up and be a hip-hop artist because people still wanna hear them R&B records and people wanna hear singers and they wanna hear songs that are great songs.

AllHipHop Alternatives: Is there any truth to the rumor that you live right next door to Canibus or something?

Keith Sweat: Not that I know of. I’m quite sure we would of both made our presence known in ATL in some degree but I don’t think so.

AllHipHop Alternatives: How does it feel, obviously your career is not over but to have touched a lot of lives like I said?

Keith Sweat: That’s a phenomenal feeling because what I’ve done is something I go down in history for on the R&B side so basically it makes me feel good to know I’ve touched a lot of lives. That’s all that matters to me. I didn’t hurt nobody, kill somebody shoot nobody, its all good.

AllHipHop Alternatives: What’s coming up?

Keith Sweat: I’m working on the new album, I’m just trying to figure what direction I want to go in . Whether I want to put out independently or I’m waiting on some other people who have made proposes. My album is hot . I’m just waiting on my situation because the greatest hits album is out.

AllHipHop Alternatives: What’s your life like these days? Married? I know you have children.

Keith Sweat: Nah, I just went through a situation. I got custody of my kids so its all good now, I’m happy . I’m a single parent. I’m happy about that. I’m ecstatic.

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