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Rahsaan Patterson: All Soul

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The music industry is one where the talented are often times shelved and the talent-less are developed. Rahsaan Patterson belongs to the earlier creed. Since his self-titled debut ten years ago, Rahsaan has released four studio albums, contributed to movie soundtracks like Brown Sugar and written several Billboard chart-toppers such as Brandy’s “Baby”. Even still, it’s hardly uncommon to hear someone utter, “Who is that?” Those who aren’t familiar with Patterson’s music may have become acquainted with the Bronx native through his role as “Kid” on the popular ’80s television show, Kids Incorporated, where he played alongside stars such as Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas and R&B singer Shanice. But no matter his association, one thing is certain – the “Kid” is talented.With the release of his latest album, Wine and Spirits, Patterson is showing the world that he is still the man behind the music. He shares his experiences growing up on the tube, his trials and tribulations as a recording artist, and his take on Neo-Soul artists – whether you’re listening or not.AHHA: You’re from the boogie down Bronx and this industry is a struggle sometimes.  What effects, if any, did growing up in the BX have on your ability to stay afloat in the music industry?Rahsaan Patterson: Well, definitely coming from the Bronx and the family that I came from, just how we were raised played a part in my ability to sustain myself throughout the ups and downs, and just being able to keep a level head and focus on reality. I was raised there until I was about ten, and a lot transpired in those years, personally. I learned a lot from just observing. Then with the parents that I had, who came from that Studio 54 era, you know just that New York energy back then. And I think it’s very much reflected in my music and my style and everything.Los Angeles played a part in that as well, in that this is where I grew up from ten years old on. I had to learn to not wild out, because when I first got to LA and was on Kids Incorporated, I didn’t have any experience like the other kids did. They were all professionals and doing commercials and s**t like that.  And I was just straight out of the Bronx, bugged out, trying to fight people when they made me mad. It was definitely a learning experience, one which I grew in.AHHA: Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas was one of your peers on Kids Incorporated. Did you guys have a relationship?Rahsaan Patterson: Oh yeah. See, she was one that I couldn’t have f***ed with. I tried one time and she wasn’t having it. So yeah, she’s good. [laughs]AHHA: Did you think she would be the star that she is now?Rahsaan Patterson: Umm, yes, because obviously we were all very young and I remember feeling that I was amongst some really talented kids. And I knew we all had the potential to follow our paths and that at some point it could happen for all of us. So I really enjoy seeing where she is right now, because it takes me back to those days when she was nine and I was ten and we used to sing songs together and stuff. AHHA: What it’s like to have fame as a child, when your talent is so undeveloped, but struggle to attain it when your talent has come full circle?Rahsaan Patterson: I mean, as a child you just want to have fun, and being on TV, doing what you love and being around other children is what’s fun. I know for myself when I hit the 20-year mark, I hit a wall, and it was like “f**k!” I guess I was exhausted mentally from having to handle all of that from such a young age.  AHHA: So do you think it’s easier to break into the industry as an adult or as a child?Rahsaan Patterson: I have no idea, because I’ve already broken in. And actually, when I broke into it I wasn’t even aware that I was breaking into it, because it all just happened overnight. It wasn’t anything that I aspired to, it just happened. So I don’t know what that road is like.AHHA: Lucky you.Rahsaan Patterson: Lucky me? Blessed me. But I do have my own road with my own tribulations that other people have no idea about. Just being a Black recording artist versus a White one; making the kind of music I make versus the stuff that’s force fed down peoples’ throats. AHHA: Your trials, throughout the development of your career, have been varied and often times, oppressive. Four albums later, if you could change anything about yourself from that first recording contract and first album, would you?Rahsaan Patterson: Nope, because it all helps to develop who I’ve become and who I’m becoming. All of those experiences, challenges helped create material. AHHA: Moving forward, your latest album Wine and Spirits is as authentic and colorful as the first three. All of your albums have these sexy themes.  Rahsaan Patterson: Really? [laughs] You know what’s funny? What’s crazy is that it’s never a conscious effort to be sexy or anything like that. I guess it’s just innately who I am and how I allow it to come through me. I definitely am aware of the layers, but the sexy thing…when I’m singing and writing, I ain’t thinking about sexy. But I guess my interpretation of the songs, and because what singing does for me is pretty sensual as it’s happening, I guess that’s what permeates as far as sex appeal is concerned. I guess it’s more of an adult thing. As you come more into being an adult, I sexiness comes with it. I guess that’s what the term “grown and sexy” is all about- although I hate that term.AHHA: So what did you bring to this project that you feel is uniquely absent from the previous three that you think fans will pick up on?Rahsaan Patterson: Well the most obvious is just my openness about my relationship with God, and where I went emotionally and spiritually and lyrically. I think that’s the main difference.AHHA: Why do you think there are some who hit big and others that miss with regard to Neo-Soul, when essentially it all shares a very familiar, common construct? Rahsaan Patterson: I really have no idea, other than that people who are on major labels have the advantage of marketing and promotions and being on the radio more than the independent ones do. I think that’s a major point. Then, I think maybe other [Neo-Soul artists] may have a little more depth and vision than just being Neo-Soul; and when the depth is too deep for some people to try to categorize, they just leave it alone. [laughs]AHHA: In your absence from the limelight, which seemed like forever-Rahsaan Patterson: Was I ever really in the goddamn limelight? [laughs] I mean, in comparison to the people who do better [than me], you know? I equate the limelight to be for those who are a bit more successful in their visibility. AHHA: People know who you are though.Rahsaan Patterson: I know people know who I am, but those people are quite underground and on the side. They ain’t even limelight motherf***ers. My people that listen to me and feel what I do, they are not of the same elk of those people who indulge in those who are in the limelight, for real. But I do have my spotlight where I’m at.AHHA: Well okay, your spotlight. What was a typical day like?Rahsaan Patterson: Well a lot of time I would spend at the movies. I enjoy independent films a lot.  And I go to the movies to be inspired, to stay in-tune with art and the line of communication that is needed to exert oneself.  I would then go to the studio, after the movies, and write music and/or indulge in wine and spirits at times. I would get lost then find my way back to the light at times. I was in a pretty dark place at one point, which was when I was going through my spiritual pursuit and just trying to reconnect with my purpose, and see if I was even supposed to be doing this anymore. Luckily I found my way back to everybody who cares to listen.AHHA:  You were busy. [laughs]Rahsaan Patterson: Yeah, I was busy. But the album lets you know that. AHHA: Aside from being a spotlight artist, you are also a talented songwriter. Do you find it easier to pen songs for others rather than yourself?  Rahsaan Patterson: Definitely to write for myself, even though when I write for others, at times, I tend to write from my own perspective; unless I’m collaborating with someone for their project and they’re writing it with me. AHHA: Okay, so what else are you working on? Any more soundtracks?Rahsaan Patterson: Well there are two songs that I have that are coming out in a couple of films, and I can’t remember the names of them right now. AHHA: What do you mean you don’t remember? [laughs]Rahsaan Patterson: I know they were directed by Bill Duke, but I really can’t remember them s**ts right at this moment.  AHHA:  Do you at least know what songs they are?Rahsaan Patterson: “No Danger” and “Feels Good.” And I’m also in a group called Sugar Rush Beat Company. It’s myself, this cat from Australia, and this girl from Denmark. We are signed to Sony BMG. We have an album coming out in March in the UK. AHHA: Very cool. Now everyone always says “It’s just about the music,” as if nothing else matters. But is it really just about the music?Rahsaan Patterson: Well you know, my truth is that I’ve never done anything else. And during that period where I was indulging in wine and spirits and trying to figure s**t out, I was actually contemplating like, “What the f**k else can I do if I wanted to do something else?” I don’t have any experience anywhere else, you know? I dropped out of high school. I don’t have experience being a manager at McDonalds or no s**t, so I have no idea. So for me it is about the music. And I can’t say it’s just all about the music either.  It’s all about the art for me.

Old School Rahsaan Patterson “Where You Are”

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