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Soul For Real: Perfect Independent Timing

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Among the Jodeci’s and Shai’s of ‘90s R&B, Soul for Real was considered by many to be the second coming of the Jacksons. The group, comprised of brothers Andre, Brian, Chris, and Jason Dalyrimple, found success and a following among music lovers with such hits as “Candy Rain” and “Every Little Thing I Do.” They even received a co-sign from rapper Heavy D, who contributed a verse on the remix to “Candy Rain.”  In the years since they hit the scene, Soul for Real has released two albums (1996′s For Life and 1999′s Heat) as well as seasoned the sound that endeared them to their fans. In short, the collective has grown up, taken their careers in their own hands with their record label Aljoba Music Group (AMG) and is currently in the studio working on a new album called The Unknown. The first single from the project, “1 Man,” features D-Block rapper Jadakiss. And with production on the album from the Justice League, Dre, and Jason’s production company Notorious Beatmakers, Soul for Real is on tap to regain their place in the competitive R&B landscape The group recently took a break from working on their new release to chat about the album, why they’re down to three members, the lack of groups in today’s R&B, and valuable lessons that still carry weight to this day. AllHipHop.com Alternatives: It’s been eight years since your last album came out, what have you guys been up to? Brian Dalyrimple: We’ve been basically mastering the craft of being more than just artists. We are entertainers to the fullest as far as Dre and Jason doing Notorious Beatmakers productions and Aljoba Music, which is our label that we own. Basically, making ourselves a whole entity aside from just, you know, a hot group. We’re trying to brand ourselves from the time that we been to make ourselves a household name that everybody understands and knows that it’s real.  AHHA: I notice you have three members in the group as opposed to four. What happened to Chris? Brian Dalyrimple: My brother Choc. We call him Choc, that’s his nickname. Choc, basically right now, is putting his concentration and his efforts into raising his family. I mean, it is the three of us, but it’s still Soul for Real. He’s more than welcome to come back. He knows this. We all have given him that open window to come back whenever he does wants. Of course he’s the maestro. He’s the one that started this. So it’s only fair to have him be able to come back whenever he feels he’s ready to. AHHA: Were there any second thoughts on coming back to the scene without Choc physically being part of the group? Andre Dalyrimple: We were raised together. We have a strong-knit family. We’re all together. We all have like a go-getta attitude. We all have sat down and talked in our meetings, and if Choc is gonna be raising his family, the best thing for us to do is just to move forward. It wasn’t really thoughts or anything. It’s just what we have to do. This is our career. We have to support our family. We’re grown now.  Jason Dalyrimple: It’s definitely our thoughts and things have to change. So we have to work around him not being there. But like Dre said we just have to move forward. It’s not something that we can just put down like that.  Brian Dalyrimple: Just to add on to it a little bit what Jason and Dre said. With the choice of us moving on with Choc, it was originally a very hard decision for us to move on without him because, of course, the visual being that we have a fan base that’s accustomed to seeing us four. So it was something that we wondered how are they gonna accept us..It was actually a drive that he’s not there to prove to ourselves, along with him and the world, that Soul for Real is Soul for Real, with one member, four members. We’re brothers. Like Dre said, we were born and raised together. It was a little effect maybe in the beginning but it’s not like where he can’t come back to the group.  AHHA: In light of the current state of R&B in regard to all-male singing groups, do you feel the scene has changed? There are very few, if any, all-male groups around, aside from Jagged Edge. Jason Dalyrimple: The industry definitely changed, the sound of the music. I wouldn’t say so much the visual. But people come in the business, people go out. Things change, so life evolves. It’s only right.  Brian Dalyrimple: I think that it’s definitely changed. I think that was actually Soul for Real’s cue – that was Aljoba Music’s cue – for us to bring back something that the industry is basically avoiding right now. There’s a huge void for the male R&B group, the real singers and performers. I’m glad that you said Jagged Edge. That was one of the groups we said. How many groups are out right now? This is our time. Timing is everything. We miss Mint Condition and the Jodeci’s and all of the groups before our time. The industry really needs male groups. AHHA: The charts are currently being dominated by solo acts or former group members who decided go solo. Do you guys feel that there is a market out there for the groups now? Andre Dalyrimple: Just a minute ago when I was in New York, I was listening to Jay-Z. Jay-Z is a marketing genius. Everyone knows what Jay-Z did. And Jay-Z was on the radio saying that whichever rapper or solo act don’t got their stuff together in a minute that R&B is liable to take back over. The four-man group or the three-man group or whatever group is what’s missing. Jagged Edge, they’re here, but no one is really making any noise. So right now is just perfect timing. It’s just timing.  Brian Dalyrimple: The fact that there are no boy-band groups out there, that wouldn’t deter us. That just encourages us. There have been R&B groups before when there have been gaps in the industry. I think we can all look back and see when there was a little gap…like after New Edition. I think the industry, in all genres of music, there is some sort of gap making way for whatever new sound is coming.  AHHA: What do you think of MTV’s Making the Band now that it’s an all male group this season?  Jason Dalyrimple: I think that was a very clever move. It was perfect timing with the whole reality show thing and how [Diddy] put it together. I love it.  Brian Dalyrimple: Laurie Ann Gibson, the talented choreographer that Soul for Real used for all of our hit singles. That right there basically just puts the icing on the cake. We’re not cocky or conceited. We just feel like, “Hey, we really came back or trying to come back at the right time.” We all know, come on, Puffy is Puffy. He used Laurie Ann Gibson. That’s who we used. It’s just inevitable that this is the time.  AHHA: “Every Little Thing You Do,” and “Candy Rain” definitely had people open back in the day. Those songs had a “sweet” and “innocent” vibe that classified your sound. Even though you guys are grown now, are you afraid that people will expect you to keep the vibe of the past and not accept your mature material? Andre Dalyrimple: To me you just answered your own question by saying, “You guys are grown now.” And so everyone that grew with “Candy Rain,” they’re grown now too. We actually went out on the road and it went kind of good in spots. We’re getting love shown on tour left and right. We’re not worried about that.  Brian Dalyrimple: No we’re not worried, but it is a concern of mine. It’s always up to the consumer. What we liked when we were 10, we don’t like when we’re 20. So it’s hard for me to say, “Yes, our fans are gonna accept us, our fan base is gonna accept us.” We would hope that if you like good music, then you’re gonna like Soul for Real, because that’s what we’re giving. We’re giving you hot music that’s current with the times. Unfortunately, we were kids. I don’t say unfortunate because a lot of people that did grow with us they’re not kids anymore and neither are we.  So it’s like you listen to songs that we did before and yeah, those are little cute songs because we were cute little kids. Now we’re grown. We want to consider ourselves having some sex appeal and now we can cater to a new fan base as well as our old fan base still. Definitely, there’s some worry. There has to be a worry, especially where we’ve been off the scene for that long. But we’re hoping. We expect the best, and expect whatever’s gonna happen that we hope that it’s gonna be a great outcome for us. That’s a hard question to ask. AHHA: With that in mind, is it a matter that you guys may have to reintroduce yourselves? Soul for Real: Absolutely. AHHA: Do you anticipate that being a challenge now as opposed to then to get the masses on board?  Brian Dalyrimple: I think everything is a challenge. Only certain things God gives us make it that way. With the help of the Internet and the fact that the independent market is so prosperous and advanced, I think that’s what’s gonna actually alleviate whatever headache or problem we might have ran across, because we have believed the mass market and distribute our songs and our product [as] opposed to when we were out. We didn’t have the Internet, which has played such a role in everybody’s success right now.   It occurred to me, but it’s not gonna be something we worry ourselves so much about, because we have a paid market share. So basically, that’s what we’re going to capitalize off the fact that we have that. Hopefully, the million plus fans we do have out there can turn that into ten million. Jason Dalyrimple: We have pretty good ideas of marketing and making people understand where we’ve been throughout, from then until now. AHHA: How would you sum up the music on the album, as it stands right now? Brian Dalyrimple: I would sum it up as Soul for Real. It’s an album that you’re gonna get, that you’re gonna say, “Wow these are some real cats. What they’re singing about is real. They can sing for real. They can perform for real.” And that’s what you’re gonna feel. You’re gonna feel it 100 percent. AHHA: When is your new album coming out? Jason Dalyrimple: We’re leaning hard toward the late quarter, the fourth quarter of the year. November. We’re hoping for a November release if everything works out according to plan. AHHA: Aside from Jadakiss, any other guests? Jason Dalyrimple: Dre is introducing himself on this album as well because Dre raps. But he’s not taking light or the focus off of Soul for Real. Basically, he’s introducing his second love. So he’s also going to be featured on the album and whoever else. We like to look at it like that because it’s Dre, but it’s not Dre. Andre Dalyrimple: That’s right. It’s Uncle Dre. My rap name is Uncle Dre. I have a couple of various alter egos, but I can’t reveal more now. I’ll have to leave you with that one. AHHA: How did you did hook up with Jadakiss for the first single, “1 Man”? Andre Dalyrimple: Through a friend of ours that’s helping us work the single – a mutual friend. I’m from Mt. Vernon. Jada’s from Yonkers. We all bumped each other a couple of times. A mutual friend just put us together. Brian Dalyrimple: You know how New York do. We all New York and family. We live in Atlanta now. We moved from New York. We’ve been in Atlanta for a year and a half now. New York looks out for New York. Real recognize real. AHHA: Speaking of rappers and New York, have you talked to Heavy D lately? Brian Dalyrimple: We spoke to Heav about two months ago. He was happy for us and heard the song, and said he would be more than happy to work with us if we wanted him to. Our relationship with him is not as strong as it once was, but the love is there.AHHA: You’re on an indie label now with AMG. Why go that route instead of going back to a major label? Brian Dalyrimple: Above and beyond everything is creative control. Everything is in your favor on an independent label right now. Especially in the state that the majors are in right now. The majors have it pretty rough right now. On a major label standpoint, they got to groom and all that. They got to basically hold their hand. And doing it from an independent level, you’re showing the industry executive that they don’t have to hold your hand. They can just basically cut the check and we work together as opposed to we work for them. AHHA: How long has it been since you been doing the independent thing? Brian Dalyrimple: We’ve been on the independent since 1999, but we’ve been on our own independent because we own Aljoba Music. So we’ve been on that since 2003.  AHHA: You were teens when you first got on. Now that you’re adults, looking back, what lessons have you learned that have stayed with you up to this point? Brian Dalyrimple: The most important lesson we have learned is make sure you understand everything that is proposed to you before you agree to it. Which pertains to everything. You must understand – not just read it – whether working on a song, working with a producer, distribution company, etc. Understand the terms fully. It’s 90 percent business, ten percent talent.

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