Virginia has produced some of the culture's biggest and most iconic artists and personalities like Timabland, Tha Clipse, Missy Elliott, and Pharrell Williams. Next up to bat is Charles City, VA native, Governor.
The crooning son of a preacher signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint early in his career, and this move produced one stellar album, Son Of Pain, that went almost unnoticed by listeners. Not to be kept down, Governor immediately picked himself up and got his career back on track, becoming the first singer signed to 50 Cent's new G-Note Records imprint.
AllHipHop.com spent some time with Governor, discovering more about his past industry struggles, his relationship - both personally and professionally - with 50 Cent, and what he has in store for his G-Note debut:
AllHipHop.com: How are you, Governor?
Governor: Alright, man. Thanks.
AllHipHop.com: I know that you’re from Virginia, and you’ve been a part of the music industry for about a decade, so who were and are some of your influences?
Governor: Some of my influences were, of course, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, that whole Soul era. Elton John, Teena Marie, a lot of people that came up and just had timeless music, so my ear was kind of well-rounded.
AllHipHop.com: You were signed to Grand Hustle a few years ago, and your current situation is at G-Note, but what came before that? What was your first introduction to the music industry?
Governor: Well, before that I was writing for The Trackmasters, and I think that was one of my first official affiliations.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me a little about the album you released on T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint, Son of Pain.
Governor: Well, Son of Pain was very personal to me. It was a project that I put my all into, and a lot of people consider it a classic album that was never really heard. They say it’s a classic album that never really got the chance to reach the light of day, and I kind of agree with that.
There was a lot of different things on Son of Pain. It was an edgy album done in a classic R&B type vibe. Some songs even incorporated a Hip-Hop style because of how I write and because of my affiliations and how I came up. So I really, to this day, have a soft spot for Son of Pain, and it still kind of breaks my heart that that album didn’t really get the chance to receive the recognition that it was supposed to. It was one of the most depressing things to see something that had so much potential never get a shot.
AllHipHop.com: So, based on what you just said, how are you doing things differently with your upcoming album? Obviously, the label situation and who you’re working with now has changed, but what are you personally doing differently now that you weren’t doing in 2006?
Governor: Well, I tried to just pick up from there and really reinvent myself. You know, I was signed to Atlantic in 2006, and now I’m working with G-Note, so a lot of things are different because I’m working with 50 [Cent], and 50’s a Hip-Hop artist and he basically brings me to his audience, which is not my core audience, but it’s a hell of an audience to be brought to. That’s different, and with the way I dress and people perceive me, that’s a little different now, but I respect it totally ‘cause it allowed me to broaden my scope on who wouldn’t normally hear or listen to my music.
AllHipHop.com: From what I’ve heard, G-Note is a Hip-Hop based label with a primary focus dedicated to Pop, R&B, and Dance music. You were the first singer signed to the label in ’09, so what does a platform like G-Note offer you as an artist? What was so appealing about signing with this new, independent “machine”?
Governor: It’s just a great opportunity for me. 50 is as much a business man as he is a rapper, and working with him and his brand allows me to touch a lot of different people, more than just trying to introduce myself as an R&B artist. Because of all of the boundaries and borders that he breaks down within the landscape of his brand, it allows me to be seen by those same people. It’s a good thing for me.
AllHipHop.com: And you’re currently working on your third album, A Touch of Magic, which will be your first under G-Note. Is there currently a tentative release date for that sometime this year?
Governor: I really don’t have an idea about when it’s going to be released as of yet. We’re still putting some pieces together, and it’s a different climate right now so things move a little slower, but the album is coming. We’re just working on it and working on it and working on it, and we’ve got a lot of nice pieces. G-Note is a record company, so I’m basically waiting to get schedules and times and ideas from them that will kind of lend a true answer to that, which I don’t have right now.
AllHipHop.com: What about the album’s title, A Touch of Magic, is so significant to you?
Governor: Well, I’m actually going to change that, but I haven’t decided to what yet because there isn’t a release date so I do want to change that. That was kind of 50’s idea, and he spun it off of the whole Black Magic project that we were supposed to put out.
Since then he wanted me to focus on my solo project and I haven’t actually given it a name myself as of yet. But it’s something that I think will just pop out of nowhere. This is a project that I don’t want to think about too much. I want it to be organic; I want it to be magical.
AllHipHop.com: Absolutely. Just from looking at your track record, I know that you’ve already worked with the likes of Wyclef Jean, Just Blaze, Santana, all of these amazing people. So, now that you’ve been in the game for a little while, is there anyone else that you’ve been able to work with or that you’re planning to work with this time around that you had not been able to get with before?
Governor: No, not really. I mean I love Adele; right now she’s really really hot. There are a few other people that I think I would like to work with. I don’t know how it would look, but I would love to work with some of my Virginia homies in the industry - Trey Songz and some other people - since Virginia is hot right now.
AllHipHop.com: Get some Timbaland, Missy [Elliott], and some Pusha T on there, too!
Governor: Oh yeah! It would be nice to finally be able to work with these guys being that I am from Virginia. It would be nice to connect with some people who are from the same geographic area as myself.
AllHipHop.com: You did just mention Adele, but what are your current thoughts being that we’re in 2012 now, of the R&B scene in music?
Governor: I think that the R&B landscape of music right now is wide open, especially for a grown *ss man. A lot of the guys are younger than me, and I don’t really see anybody right now that’s really taking over that lane of where R. Kelly left off. I just don’t see it, and I just think that’s a huge opportunity for me to fly right into that lane and say ‘Okay, we know that with urban music, demographics are normally younger; they’re really like 17-19.
Who’s to say that a 25-year-old or 30-year-old person would not buy the music if it was something for them, available, and that they really love?’ So, I think we can actually bring more demographics around.
AllHipHop.com: As a music lover, fan, and also an artist, do you find yourself listening to more music from the likes of people like Anthony Hamilton and John Legend, or are you just as keen on listening to brand new artists like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd?
Governor: I definitely listen to both, and I respect Frank Ocean’s music. I think a lot of the other music now though is much more blatantly done. There’s no color, there’s no imagination. Everything is just so blatant like, 'I wanna f*ck you.' I think, me, personally, we can say the same thing just like music did back in the day. Yeah, they were talking about sex and all of these things that we as humans go through every day, and the emotions that we feel. But we need to have a more classier way of displaying it, and I think something like that would really pop through nowadays, just because everything is so blatant and kind of tasteless.
AllHipHop.com: I can definitely appreciate and respect that response. Moving on, are there currently any plans to release a G-Note compilation album with Hot Rod, Lea, Genasis, Pauly D, and yourself, much like 50 [Cent] did with Beg For Mercy and the Get Rich or Die Trying soundtrack?
Governor: I really have no idea, and it would be kind of out of bounds for me to speak on it, ‘cause I really don’t know. I’m not the record company, I’ve got my own side stuff and working on my own project. I’m just trying to get those things done. I’m just filled with what’s going on in my own life right now and my own stuff, and I really don’t know how “the office” wants to put things together as far as collaborations inside the label.
AllHipHop.com: I totally understand. I know you had a couple of records on 50’s Things Fall Apart soundtrack. Other than that, what have you and 50 been working on?
Governor: I mean I worked on a track for his album, and I believe it’s still planned to be on the album. Other than that, I’ve just been popping in and out of appearances whenever he requests my presence, so that’s really where I am with it right now.
I’m really just excited about this interview, and hoping that this will turn into other things to help me as an artist function outside of the label. This is huge for me.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anything else you want the readers to know?
Governor: Not really, man. Just check out my Twitter page, and check me out on Facebook. I’m just trying to connect, and I’m hoping that this year is the year, and I'm just trying to find ways to keep myself relevant.
AllHipHop.com: Thanks for your time, Governor. It was a pleasure speaking with you, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you have in store musically for the upcoming year.
Governor: Thank you!
Follow Governor On Twitter: @GovernorMusic