Raphael Saadiq : Escalator Style

Raphael Saadiq has boldly set out to etch his legend in stone just a little deeper. The formation of an independent R&B label is something almost unheard of in the music industry, and if he can pull it off successfully, he will undoubtedly set a new precedent in his already flawless career. His new label, Pookie Entertainment, has already begun to draw their own road map to success with the signing of two new artists.

Two of R&B’s most vivacious songbirds, Truth (formerly known as Truth Hurts) and Joi have formed an alliance with Raphael that is guaranteed to sellout any venue. They are determined to bring forth the vibe that the major labels are seemingly unwilling to do. Raphael took time away from his current tour to speak with Allhiphop.com about the formation of the new label and how he plans to captivate the masses with his unique brand of sound.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: The last time we spoke, you were in the process of transitioning into your new label, Pookie Entertainment. How have things been since that time?

Raphael Saadiq: Everything is looking real healthy. We are trying to keep our fingers crossed and keep it moving.

AHHA: You got three different albums on the horizon, yours obviously, plus new albums from Truth and Joi. Talk about your plan of action to get these albums the best shine possible.

RS: With Truth, I plan on letting her be who she was as far as doing the type of stuff that she was doing with Dre. Plus, Dre is still going to work with her. We are just going to try to give her more music so that she can have a full album of stuff that she would like, too. We are just going to be real guerilla tactics with it. The same goes for Joi, too. We plan on Joi just really taking off and going overseas and killing that market more than the market over here, and then come back over here.

AHHA: Do you find that the market overseas is more open and honest for artists such as yourselves?

RS: A lot more open. Over here, it’s getting more open, but it’s a bigger scheme of things over in Europe. It’s the same thing…you got to be able to blow up over here, too. I think Truth is a radio-friendly act. Joi is not really the radio person. She’s from the south, and her whole background is the dirty south music. She’s more underground, a more alternative rock kind of feel.

AHHA: How do you blend your style of music with someone who has an alternative rock appeal?

RS: I’m from every type of background of music, so that’s nothing for me. My whole thing with Joi is more like the marketing. We just have to set up the marketing and the place where she can be seen and heard. Music is international with me anyway.

AHHA: When I spoke with Truth, we were talking about how this is almost a first regarding independent R&B labels. Do you plan to stay on the independent road for the remainder of your career?

RS: Yeah basically. I don’t think Berry Gordy went and did anything before he became a major. I plan on becoming a major.

AHHA: Talk about your solo project and what came of that.

RS: That’s the “All Hits At The House Of Blues.” It came out real cool. We put out a wish list of people who should perform and everybody on the CD showed up. It made for a double CD. It’s in the stores and it’s doing cool.

AHHA: Many artists have gotten into the live CD thing. What makes your live performance different from a “Maxwell Live” album or an “Erykah Badu Live” album?

RS: I haven’t heard their live albums. I think Maxwell’s was an “MTV Unplugged” thing, so it would be a lot different from mine. Mine is mine! (laughs) This is 15 years of catalog on this record.

AHHA: Do you have anything to speak on regarding your next studio album?

RS: It’s going to be a real solid record. But, I’m just playing it by ear really. I’m already recording it, though. I got a couple of things that I’m excited about, and I’m excited to go home to really start working on it. Really man, I’m just going to go real gutter with it. I’m definitely going to work with (DJ) Premier. I’m not going to do it any different than I did any other album. I’m just going to get in there and make it happen.

AHHA: Around what time frame are you looking to drop everything?

RS: I’m thinking like 2nd quarter.

AHHA: Explain to me what the hell happened at the last Grammy awards. You got five nominations, man. They were robbing people like it was the Watts riots or something.

RS: Well you know, you can’t get too excited about them award shows, man. Those awards ain’t really built for that.

AHHA: Do you view the hardware as a show of popularity more so than an appreciation of talent?

RS: It’s more of a popularity thing. It does something for you once you get it because everybody’s watching it. Whether you win or lose, people are still going to watch it.

AHHA: How do you plan to approach this new venture from a business standpoint? As I mentioned earlier, I think you are breaking new ground with the independent R&B label because they virtually do not exist. You are a viable businessman in this industry now.

RS: I’m going to treat it as if it was a major. I’m not going to treat it like it’s an indy. I’m already doing as much as I did with the majors as far as press and shows. I’m still traveling with an 11-piece band. I’m sort of treating it like the majors treated me in the beginning. My approach is going to be to be in everybody’s face and make records. My whole tip is going to be to fill that void that’s out there. There’s a void out there for people who want to hear music.