“2AM” by Adrian Marcel and Sage The Gemini will never get old.
Hailing from Oakland, Adrian exploded onto the scene with his Bay Area smash, taking over radio airwaves, clubs, and functions all across the world.
Adrian describes himself as “a jack of all trades.” Whether he’s singing, songwriting, composing, acting, or being the CEO of his own company Third Voice Music Group, the 29-year-old puts his heart in each endeavor. When it comes to the R&B game, Adrian aims to be at the very top — implementing his soulful roots into each record he creates.
His last album, 98th, is a testament to his roots in Oakland. In addition, it marks his departure from his major-label deal as he steps into and embraces his newfound independence.
In addition to his acting endeavors (he played James Debarge in ‘The Bobby DeBarge Story’), Adrian Marcel is a husband and father to three beautiful children.
AllHipHop: What’s the significance in your company/label, Third Voice Music Group?
Adrian Marcel: As a singer, especially an R&B singer, you have 3 different phases to your voice. You have your chest voice. You have your head voice. Then right in the middle, you have your third voice. It’s right when you’re in between the two. I learned it when I was taking vocal lessons back in the day as a kid. It always stuck with me.
AllHipHop: You’re from Oakland, what were you seeing growing up?
Adrian Marcel: For me honestly, growing up in Oakland was cool man. A lot of people give Oakland a bad rep, there’s always crazy s##t going on. But at the same time, I always say that I’m a product of that. I was able to learn about creativity and the hustle that goes with it. In Oakland, they’re known for being independent. We’re known for that get it out the mud, beast mode, grind type of thing.
Especially in R&B, it was a challenge coming up because it’s a lot of talent out there, and it’s very raw. I was sneaking in clubs, getting cool with bouncers so that I could get in there and do my thing. It was cool because if you can perform in Oakland, it’s a lot like New York. The crowd — if they’re not into you, they’re going to let you know they’re not f##king with you. It really made me as fearless as I am on stage, and with my artistry period.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
Adrian Marcel: When I moved to 98th. I moved to 98th and Mac when I was 14. I always loved singing, but it was always about the girls. It was always about mackin’ and s##t. When I went to Oakland School For the Arts at 14, when I moved to that block, that’s when I got serious. “Oh, this is something that I really want to do.” I met other people who were just as talented, maybe even better. That fueled me like “f##k that, I thought I was the best. I have to go harder.” At that point, I knew that music was what I wanted to do.
AllHipHop: “2AM” is at over 72M on Youtube, did you foresee blowing up like this?
Adrian Marcel: I didn’t. I hated the record when I first heard the demo. It might have been the demo. It could have been the demo. I was just so used to doing a lot of more soulful music. I figured that was going to be my lane period. When I heard the record, I thought “this might be confusing. This is totally different from what I actually do.”
But when I did it man, that s##t blew up. I didn’t really have time to really prepare for it to blow. Being on the road, it hit. Alright we’re on tour now, we gotta perform it everywhere we go. I watch people go from really not knowing the song to by the end of tour, everybody going up.
AllHipHop: You still talk to Sage The Gemini?
Adrian Marcel: Yeah! We’re working on something. For my next project, I’ve been in the works with him. Because we’ve always wanted to do it again, rock together again. We’re really close. I really f##k with Sage, especially the whole Bay Area connection. Both of us were on some “it has to be something fire though,” but I think we got it. We got something clean, we’ll see.
AllHipHop: Talk about linking with Casey Veggies on your new single “Can’t Go For That.”
Adrian Marcel: Hell yeah! Casey man, that’s my nig. Back when, I was just coming in. Right when “2AM” had first popped, we had just shot the video. The next day, we were all hanging. My manager at the time was like, “look, let’s call Casey.” Because I had just met him. So I called him up, we barely knew each other. He answered the phone like “what’s up,” we started talking about a record. He recorded it hella quick.
Before I even dipped to LA, he’s like “s##t, let’s shoot it.” So we met up and we shot the video for “I Get It.” The s##t was so easy man, he’s just a cool ass person. So when I worked on this new project 98th, I was working on “Can’t Go For That,” I just heard him on it. I was listening to the beat. I was listening to the record, and something in me was like “I gotta hear Casey on this record.” When I hit him up again, same thing. Casey’s one of those people who’s a solid ass dude. I love whenever it can be that Bay Area, LA connection.
AllHipHop: What is it you want fans to get from your story now?
Adrian Marcel: Before I was with a label, Universal/Republic. I let a lot of things go. I was very lenient, allowing the machine to work and do what it does. But you can lose yourself in that. You can lose who you are and where you want to go. Now being CEO, starting my label. Signing myself, executive producing my album. Executive producing this tour that we’re on. Executive producing all my music at this point.
In my career, it’s a new journey. It’s a new time for me. Now more than ever, my fans are able to get me in real time. You’re not getting something that’s concocted at all. Everything I do, I’m in a space now I’m giving it to you like this is exactly who I am. It’s raw. However I want to do my hair, however I want to dress. Whatever I feel, that’s what I’m on. These fans get to really have a piece of me in real time and where I’m at, at this very moment.
AllHipHop: How was your experience acting on The Bobby DeBarge Story?
Adrian Marcel: It was lit! I love acting. I got a super bug for that s##t now. I can’t wait to get back on screen. It was cool. It’s totally different from music because you’re actually jumping into another character, another person. In my music, I am another person. There’s an alter ego of course, but it’s something I’ve created. It’s something that’s still a part of me.
When you act, you might have a role that has nothing to do with you, your life, or what you’re into. You have to empathize and learn to become that character, totally leave yourself behind in a way. I thought it was extremely fun. I had a blast learning set life. I’m trying to do more acting.
AllHipHop: Best memory on the Millennium Tour?
Adrian Marcel: The best memory is coming out at that moment when “2AM” first drops. When they hear that first drop, and everybody goes up. Before you even walk out, they know the record. They already feel it. That moment walking out, them screaming. That s##t’s crazy.
AllHipHop: What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
Adrian Marcel: I had a lot of crazy encounters. The best one was in New York for this past tour. We did this show at S.O.B.’s and the next day, we went and saw one of the fans because she had a restaurant. She invited us. I told the crew “look, she’s been DMing me a lot about her restaurant. I’d been watching it from time to time. Let’s go check it out.”
We went over there. She shut the place down for us. She cooked the whole crew 3 to 4 different meals at once, it was bomb as f##k. At the same time, she let me know I inspired her to start her restaurant. I inspired her to follow her dreams. She was giving back to me what I gave to her.
AllHipHop: Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Adrian Marcel: At this very moment, probably Roddy Ricch. I f##k with Roddy Ricch hella hard. People in the car be like “damn bro, we done listened to album 4 times.” [chuckles] That s##t’s fire.
AllHipHop: What do you want your legacy to be?
Adrian Marcel: I want people to know that I stood on my own two feet. I did what came natural to me. I didn’t play nobody else’s game. I didn’t play any other lanes. I paved the way and I left the path for other young R&B artists, or artists in general. I want to be the first to truly and wholeheartedly 100% believe in myself, and push the issue that I create. The agenda that I create, and see it through. I want people to know whatever I did, I completed it. Whatever I started, I finished it.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from you next?
Adrian Marcel: We got some new music on the way. I’m dropping an album come May, on my birthday. I’m excited, it’s a whole new groove. It’s a whole new vibe. Just a new wave. Another tour, we’re nonstop. Acting. Check me out on AdrianMarcelMusic.com. New merch, I started my clothing brand 98th and Mac.
I also have a non profit, Marcel University. Really tapping into the youth and their artistry, spitting them with the same s##t I’m on. I’m studying and mastering my craft everyday, doing it my way. Feeding them the same thing to where they don’t feel like they have to start off like every other artist.
We hear about Megan right now, different artists that are going through these struggles. Honestly because we all sign bad deals, especially when we don’t know what’s going on. Talking to them and getting them engaged, getting them to know better so they can do better.