AHHA: Have you considered covering any songs outside of classic R&B rock songs or any other genre?
Nathan: Weve considered creating some rock songs and different things like that. As far as covers, there are so many songs that wed love to do. This Throwback album that we have now is not even the [tip of the] iceberg of what wed love to do as far as recording other records. One of the reasons we did Throwback was because we knew that it was something that would have never went across on a major record label, because it just wouldnt be commercially viable. Thats not the genre of music that theyre focusing on, and thats not where theyre making the bulk of their money. They get the Hip Hop stuff going and they may get a lot of low budgets and [lesser known] producers and they have a big [profit margin] on what they make. In an R&B case they have to bring in the big guys who want a hundred thousand and some odd dollars to make a song, and the budgets get astronomical, and it takes all day to make your money back. R&B is really not moving right now its a bad investment. We did this on our label with the Throwback songs, because its something that we thought it was good for not just us, but for the industry.
AHHA: Are you going to keep producing yourselves, or are you going to be reaching out to other producers? Even your hometown producers like James Poyser or others from Philly?
Nathan: Wed like to work with a lot of producers, and to be honest with you, between this album, the last album we did on Arista, and the other album we did on Universal, weve reached out for a lot of producers. I dont even think it was really so much us, a lot of those producers either were busy or kinda didnt want to work with us. Its not really us per se. Obviously weve worked with [Babyface] before hes one of the people we reached out to for this Throwback album and was not quite able to hook up with. One thing weve grown accustomed to now is that we cant sit around and wait for producers were gonna keep it moving. Even James Poyser we reached out for I personally talked to him a couple of times about doing some Boyz II Men stuff. But, you know, sometimes we get caught up in, I guess youd say the industry of things Yeah man, Ima hit you up and then you never see them again for two or three months. Nobody reaches out or whatever so at the end of the day weve gotta keep it moving. Thats pretty much what we did. Wed love to work with other producers, but if not, weve got to make it happen regardless.
AHHA: How do you feel about the trends of artists singing over Hip Hop beats?
Wanya: Music is music its not rocket science. Youve got a nice track, incredible lyrics, a good vibe, and a beautiful melody. Those things coincide to make a great song. In this day and age, people arent looking at [any of that], but thats all Boyz II Men knows how to do. Whatever its over, whether its over a Hip Hop beat, were still going to try and give it that Boyz II Men flavor but definitely try to stay as current as possible. Nobody wants to be drug through the mud and have a situation where its not stimulating you. You do good music. Thats all we know how to do, music that makes us feel good, and at the end of the day hopefully it makes the people feel good. Its about the love for it, thats all. The love wont let you do nothing bad to it.
AHHA: Are there any artists that you havent worked with yet that youd like to work with?
Nathan: Weve been dying to work with Prince for quite sometime. We reached out for him when we were doing one of our albums and he was an independent artist. We asked him could he write or produce a song for us, and he asked us did we own our own masters, and we said no. He was like, Well I only work with artists who own their own masters. Its weird now because hes signed back to a major label and we own our own masters, so he might say no again. [laughs]
Shawn: He owns his own masters.
Nathan: Well, we dont know what the situation is now, but wed definitely love to work with Prince. Wed love to get in there as soon as possible.
Wanya: Theres numerous artists, its all about making it happen DAngelo
Shawn: An artist that might not necessarily take us into an element that we dont know is Pete Rock. I like that cat. He makes classic joints, and joints that you can vibe with and sing over and it still sounds hard. I love his production. I bought his last two albums on BBE. Those joints you could actually write melodies over. Were all Hip Hop heads. We talk about R. Kelly too. Hes a premier songwriter right now hes the Gamble & Huff of our time, so to speak. There are songs hes written that are timeless.
AHHA: What about Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis?
Nathan: Oh yeah, we love Jam and Lewis. We talk about them as the chameleons of the industry they always seem to find a way to adapt to a time or an artist. Theres nothing they do that we dont like.
AHHA: Would you guys ever consider doing an album of all acapella songs?
Nathan: It would take a long time. A whole acapella album would be tough. Were big fans of Take 6, and we listen to their albums constantly. Were still amazed at a lot of the things theyre able to do. If we did it, it would be similar to what the Throwback album is, because wed want to do it for people who want to listen to it, because it definitely wouldnt be commercially viable.
AHHA: What do you want people to know about your reasons for doing the Throwback album? How do you want your fans to accept or relate to it?
Shawn: It was an album that was just strictly inspired by making music for a change. Every album has a gimmick or an image or a story thats kind of melodramatic and has nothing to do with the songs. Its like everything is so sensationalized. We actually just wanted to come out with a record because we felt this, period.
Nathan: We talk about it constantly when it comes to radio, and younger kids not really being exposed to true R&B music. Radio programmers have put them in the state of mind that Hip Hop is all you get. Theyll throw a little splash of R&B in between, but for the most part these kids have never heard Marvin Gaye, theyve never heard Teddy Pendergrass all theyve really heard was some samples from rap records and dont really know where its come from. We felt that it was important for us to do not just for Boyz II Men, but just to do everything in our power to keep the R&B movement alive.
Were told constantly by program directors, Yeah, I like the record but I cant play it because it doesnt fit my format, and at the end of the day you have those kids that you cant be mad at them because they never heard it before. If you dont give it to them, you dont give them the opportunity to pick. It is literally programming. If you program a kid that this is all you can hear, then theyre not going to know anything else. Theyre not going to turn to the [station that plays older songs] because kids have never wanted to always sit and listen to what theyre parents listen to. So, theyre going to keep it on that rap channel, and theyre never going to hear what the R&B audience has to offer.
Wanya: The Throwback album was dreamed up over a couple of years. Throughout our careers, we always did old school records, like we did Its Hard To Say Goodbye on Cooley High Harmony, then we did Yesterday on the II album, then we redid Can you Stand The Rain, and we did a remake of In The Still Of The Night. People would come up to us over the course of our career and say, You should do this song and that song. Seeing as we have our own label now, we felt like this is an opportune time to do it. Weve always wanted to, but we recognized that a major label wouldnt allow us to put something out like that, because they would say that it has no place in the market. What we want our fans to get out of it is just to get that music history back when it was all about the lyrics and how the music made you feel and the love of it what it meant to you, and what it meant to your loved ones. We want them to get that same vibe.