Bottom line, Tyrese, the singer, really wants you to support his new album. His Open Invitation has gone to #1 on iTunes in its first two weeks, as longtime fans return to the root of their love for the chocolaty, wide-smiling Tyrese – his voice. It was 1994 when fans first discovered his raspy, old soul voice, spotlighted front and center in a commercial for the world’s #1 selling beverage.
In the years since then, the modeling world and then the rest of us discovered that his chiseled good looks were marketable – for underwear (of course!), fragrances, soda, and much more. Beyond that, Hollywood was eyeing his acting chops, where those same good looks translated nicely on the big screen, along with buzz-worthy performances that pulled him further away from the studio. But now, he’s back.
AllHipHop.com recently visited with a surprising, early morning version of Tyrese – full of charisma, sensuality, and plenty of plugs for his latest endeavor. There are many words to describe the new album – soulful, raw, sexual, groovy, and “Fireworkz!” come to mind – but again, Tyrese would rather you check it out for yourself. Check out his whirlwind interview here:
Tyrese: What’s happening?
AllHipHop.com: Hey, Tyrese. How are you?
Tyrese: What’s up, AllHipHop.com? How you doing?
AllHipHop.com: I’m good! Did I wake you up? You seem sleepy.
Tyrese: Nah, I’m wide awake. This is my talking voice.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. [laughter]
Tyrese: Just relaxed.
AllHipHop.com: Wow. It’s very sexy, Tyrese. Thank you for this morning upper! [laughter] I want to jump right into my questions. So I know you’ve been doing a lot of promo this week for some new music that you’re releasing, and it’s been a while since we’ve heard you on the music front. The new album is Open Invitation, so the first thing I want to ask is, what are you openly inviting us to?
Tyrese: Well, it’s been a few years since I dropped an album or did anything musically, so my first invitation is to hope that the fans give me another shot at their heart, musically. I had a conversation with will.i.am and he said, ‘Tyrese, you’ve convinced the world that you’re a movie star, because you’ve been doing so many movies back-to-back. People have got a short attention span. You’ve got your real loyal fans, it’s ride or die, but you know, you’ve been doing so many others back-to-back.’
I had to sit on that for a minute. And it’s like, you know what? You’re absolutely right. But here’s the good thing. A fan is a fan, and a supporter is a supporter. Because somebody reads your book doesn’t mean somebody bought an album from you before. Because somebody shows up to see you in a movie doesn’t mean they even know or are aware of the fact that you are a singer. But they are a fan of something that you’re capable of. So now, you’ve just got to put the music on their minds and get it on people’s radars.
So I think for me, it’s challenging and exciting at the same time to know that we’re at 1.7 billion worldwide in box-office received, because everything from Transformers to Fast and Furious, New York Times bestselling author in one month…all of these statistics are great, so I’m looking at all of this energy out there in the universe floating around. They may be all a bunch of bits and pieces of me, but it’s the same person. So that’s my open invitation. That’s my invitation to this album.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. Let me ask you about the first single, which is “Stay.” That is like super grown-man sexy. So it was surprising to me that you let that out for the single, but it sounds like an evolution for you. So tell me about that. Tell me about “Stay.”
Tyrese: Well, you know, I pay a lot of attention to what’s out there musically. And I just decided, you know what? Because these songs may be popular doesn’t mean people actually want to show up and see somebody in concert. It’s perception vs. reality. The reality is you don’t want to go see somebody do a whole concert in Auto-Tune.
AllHipHop.com: This is very true.
Tyrese: You just don’t. You want to go support somebody who’s really going to put their heart on the mic, really put their best foot forward, really turn it on. For me, I think, here’s another perception vs. reality.
You’ve got people out here caught up in the numbers. Now the numbers are great. Congratulations to whoever ends up being number one this week. But you’ve got somebody that will end up selling the most records the first week out, and it’ll drop off 95 percent the next week, because people will finally hear the album, because their perception and the hype make them go get the album. Then they hear it, and it’s trash.
Tyrese: My thing is, what is the view of my album going to be like at the end of six months vs. that first week out? And that’s what I’m about.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. So, you went sort of for a throwback sound because for you, that represents a time when people really put their work in…I see.
Tyrese: It represents longevity. It doesn’t represent a quick fix of something right quick. Okay, you’ve got it now. How do you really sell? Are you going to really love this album three months from now? Or is it because everybody was buzzing and hyped about this album for the first week out, then you finally got it, and you don’t like it?
So for me, I’m saying this because this has been the R&B feedback I’ve gotten from women just like yourself. I listen to music all day, every day. I’m in tune with a woman. Because they’re singing about sex doesn’t mean you want to have sex to their music. You’ve got all these little boys out there singing all these supposed grown man songs. I’m not convinced. You’re like a little teenager on stage trying to sing about sex. What are you talking about?
Tyrese: That’s what women have told me, and that’s what inspired me to get back in the studio to do it again. So for me, I don’t want to sell the most records, I just want to sell my records. And anybody who knows me, I did this one interview on the radio station.
Sometimes I’ll do interviews, my dear, and I’m like a student where I’m listening, and I’m just like wow, never thought about it that way. So they’re saying, ‘After you hear this Open Invitation album, you’re going to understand where real music comes from. Real this, real that.’ [The radio personality] went on and on. Then he said, ‘Tyrese, with the state of music, we all know that if you wanted to make some real money you wouldn’t be doing another album.’
AllHipHop.com: Right. This isn’t the time to make money for most people right now in the industry, for sure.
Tyrese: So, if you wanted to make some real money, you’d stay doing movies. So that’s my motivation – every tweet, Facebook, MySpace, letters, e-mails, and more importantly, running into the fans in person. ‘We love you in the movies, we need another album…’ So for me, AllHipHop.com, I get the alerts every day. Me and my man Shark are always exchanging e-mails.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, I know you’re a friend and fan of AllHipHop! We love that.
Tyrese: I love your website. Seriously, when I sit down in front of my laptop, if you type in ‘a-l…’, it’ll take me straight to AllHipHop, I swear to God. So for me, I did this album independent, my dear, and you know who you are. You know how to convince your readers of what they need in their collection. I need this energy. I did it independent. Some people were like, ‘He’s going to go independent; he’s going to fall on his face.’
My album is number one on iTunes, first number one in my career, and whoever ends up being number one next Tuesday on the Billboard Charts and all that, congratulations. My album will speak for itself. Before you buy it, go on iTunes because the fans can download it digitally, worldwide, on iTunes. It’s a total of 16 songs. I’ve got T.I., Rick Ross, R Kelly, Ludacris, this new girl named Ken, this was amazing, on the song called “Angel,” and my man J Rock is on this song called “I’m Home.” I put my best foot forward. It’s the best of me, for you, for the fans. It’s a part of the music, and I don’t know. I put my heart on the mic.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, you just answered my question about who else featured on the album and collaborations.
Tyrese: You haven’t heard the album yet, right?
AllHipHop.com: I’ve heard a few songs off of it, and that was “Stay” and at least one of the others you just mentioned. But I wanted to ask you, in terms of the styles, you mentioned some in the collaborations. Is the style of “Stay” what the fans can expect for most of the album?
Tyrese: No, no, no. “Stay” is in the spirit of the album, but you know what? Before you even buy it, because I wish we had sent it to you, just go to iTunes and listen to all the snippets. You’ll see.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. So let me ask you, Tyrese. For our readers, I’m really thinking about you and knowing that you’re a fan of AllHipHop, but I’m remembering some pivotal Tyrese moments in history, and I think it really speaks to how you are this triple threat. So there might be people who know you in one field, then people who know you in another lane. So one pivotal moment for you was the Coca-Cola commercial with you on the bus. Tell me about that, and how you’ve evolved over time since then.
Tyrese: Only by God’s grace can you do a 30-second commercial, hustle, drive, focus, determination, and of course God’s favor can expand a 30-second commercial to 17 years of some form of show business. Ask people in the past that have sold way more records, been in movies, way more awards they’ve won, they’re gone. I’m still here. The turtle wins the race.
AllHipHop.com: You know, your physical exterior doesn’t hurt either. I know you’ve done some modeling over the years, and that’s probably what got some people’s attention, especially the ladies. So tell me about the modeling side of Tyrese, and how that came about.
Tyrese: Well, you know, I just never really considered myself a model. There was just somebody taking pictures. I never considered myself a model. I don’t know, there’s a lot of people that are good looking, I guess, attractive, sexy, fly, swag, whatever you call it. I’ve never really considered myself a model. I just kind of do my thing, and it gets appreciated.
AllHipHop.com: Alright. Appreciated! Well, the third pivotal thing that we know you’ve done is Baby Boy. That’s like a cult classic in the ‘hood. Why do you think people respond so well and for so long over Baby Boy and your performance in that?
Tyrese: You know what? It’s just something everybody can relate to. I think there’s a little bit of Jody and Yvette in all of us. I’ll never forget this dude in Australia that said to me, ‘I’m “Baby Boy,” I’m “Jody.” My mother raised us on her own, and had these f*cking boyfriends. I love that f*cking movie.’ It’s just one of those movies that a lot of people can relate to and identify with. Since we did Baby Boy, that’s why I asked Taraji [Henson] to be my leading lady in the “Stay” video.
AllHipHop.com: Right. I think people will be looking forward to seeing that. You guys had good chemistry, even though the relationship wasn’t interpersonal in Baby Boy, you guys worked well together.
Tyrese: Yeah, I love Taraji.
AllHipHop.com: What will we see in the “Stay” video with Taraji?
Tyrese: Well, I hope you post three different things on this. One thing is the link that takes you straight to iTunes, a total of 16 songs. Tell them to listen to it before they buy it, it’s fine by me. The second thing is I hosted an album listening party in my living room. Did you see that?
AllHipHop.com: I did see a clip on that.
Tyrese: Yeah, so I hosted an album listening party in my living room, and the third thing is, hopefully you’ll post the “Stay” video. And between all of that energy right there, we’re good to go, because AllHipHop is worldwide, baby!
AllHipHop.com: We are global, for sure. A lot of people are going to see this. So Tyrese, tell me, if people want to go out and see you live, are you performing at all? Are you touring at all?
Tyrese: We’re trying to put a tour together right now to go out at the top of the year. I’m pretty exhausted. I’ve done two world tours, gone to nine different countries to promote both of these movies. I’ve done at least 13 cities and conventions to promote my book. The album is out. I just want people to marinate and live with the music for a couple of months and, we’ll go out at the top of the year and have some fun out there.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. So I want to ask you about weathering the media. I think it’s the times you’re doing something good when people are talking about you. But you’ve had some bumps along the way in the media over the years, so how do you weather that? Do you care about that at this point in your career?
Tyrese: You know, listen. I’m going to generalize the response, and I’m going to say this. Most of us entertainers work real hard at covering up who we are and a lot of our struggles and issues, and we hope people just focus on the music. Love the music, love the movies, love the sexy. We try to keep that on the forefront. We are literally growing up and learning and bumping our heads along the way.
But like somebody that lives in the neighborhood, you can go have some trauma, some problems, some issues, some health issues, and it’s just some sh*t you’re dealing with, and only the people that live in your neighborhood will know about it. When we make a mistake, say something wrong, do something wrong, it’s amplified, it’s magnified, because we’re growing up with the whole world watching us. So, you live and learn. I have no regrets about my star power, my fame, my success. I have no regrets whatsoever. If I ever rubbed anybody the wrong way, pissed them off, said something wrong, I apologize. I’m growing up and learning every single day, trying to be the best version of me I can be.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, okay. That’s a good thing to point out though… is that you get unfairly criticized when your life has to be in the spotlight at all times, because we all stumble and fall.
Tyrese: Absolutely. None of us, whether private or public figures, none of us are the same persons we were even two years ago. It’s the worst to piss people off when you’re not even aware of it.
AllHipHop.com: For sure. Will we hear some of these bumps reflected in the new music?
Tyrese: Wait until you get it, that’s all I can say. Before you even print this article, hopefully you’ll give me a chance and listen to this album, so that whatever you’re going to say about it is coming from a real place.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, I definitely am going to listen to the entire album before I write the intro to this. One thing I’m going to ask you about, though, I don’t know if you know, but at AllHipHop, the majority of us are originally from Delaware, even though we’ve been up in New York City for years. We ran a story a couple weeks ago about you getting kicked out of a radio station down in Delaware, and we know the guy who kicked you out!
Tyrese: Yeah, I already talked to Chuck [Creekmur] about that. Absolutely. It’s all good. You know what? I’ve got love for Delaware. That issue was fresh on my mind when I went into that radio station. It wasn’t Delaware specific. It’s something that’s going on everywhere in the country. I think liquor stores and liquor banks should not be that close to elementary and junior high schools, because of the types of personalities they attract.
It was fresh on my mind, I addressed it when I went on the air, and I got kicked out of the station, and I had my music banned. But it is what it is. My story will never change. I have no regrets about speaking my truth. It was fresh on my mind, as I had just left an elementary school, and the liquor bank was right there. All I wanted was a Coca-Cola. They didn’t even that.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, well, I can definitely agree with you that liquor stores don’t belong near schools. And it’s like that in Delaware, and lots of other places. I know you’re super busy, so thank you, Tyrese, for your time. We appreciate all the love at AllHipHop.