Interview: Eric Bellinger
Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:18:30
"I wanted to try and do something different," proclaims Eric Bellinger. "Nowadays, a lot of people are doing the same thing. I just wanted to do anything that would get people talking."
His two-disc opus The ReBirth [iTunes link] definitely does that. It's an all-encompassing and immersive R&B epic spanning a myriad of tracks, moods, and styles. It's a powerful journey with Bellinger's soulful, smooth, and sensual voice in the driver's seat. It's also a trip you're going to want to take again and again…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Eric Bellinger discusses The ReBirth and so much more.
What ties The ReBirth together for you?
The overall mood, the sound, the lyrics, and the tracks I chose all contribute. That's especially true for disc 1. That one has a complete story for me. Through the entire tracklist, it talks about a guy trying to get a girl and using clever ways to holler at her. "I Don't Want Her" [featuring Problem] is the single that did really well for me. After that, I have "Drake's Ex", which talks about a girl who misses out on all the fun things now that I've been grinding and made it. Then, it's "Gift & Curse" and "DeLorean". It's all a journey you can rock with me. That's how that one is. Disc 2 is basically a re-cap of everything I've been doing since the beginning of my solo career. I did three mixtapes. I chose songs from all three of those tracks. I did a couple of the new leaks I had put out. I did another mixtape called In The Meantime. Disc 2 is a re-cap catching people up because I know that I'm in a position where there are songs listeners missed back in the day. In the position I'm at, now people will actually give them a listen. I didn't want those songs to go unheard. It's a complete body of work, best-of type collection. It's really well-received, and I'm excited about all of the feedback we've been getting.
You tackle numerous sounds and styles.
I wanted people to know I'm really versatile. The fans who know what I've been doing behind-the-scenes over the past few years already understand that—as far as being a writer. I started off that way. It's easy for me to do that. I can give them club records, the bedroom records, the "cruising in the car" records, and the "turn up" records. I have a bunch of music. The way it ties together is with the melodies I use and the tones of all the songs. It's a marriage throughout everything.
What does that title ReBirth mean?
There's been a crazy stigma lately about R&B. People will be like, "Oh, R&B is dead. There's no such thing as R&B anymore". Everything is so hip-hop-influenced. Or, it's pop and four-on-the-floor. With everything I was doing, I wanted to keep the theme going. It's similar to the Born II Sing mixtape series. I wanted that to be over and step into something new. We kept the theme of "being born". It wraps up that series, and it's a ReBirth for R&B. In the time we're in now, there's so much more R&B. There are a lot of people on the forefront leading the way like Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown, and Bruno Mars. It's a great time for R&B. It's the ReBirth, and I thought this was a way to tie it all in.
What's the story behind "Reward"?
That one is my favorite. It was a great love story. At the end of the day, I wanted to put that song last because it summarizes the whole story. In the day and age we're in, people will only get to track four or five, but I put this last. If they get to it, they appreciate what I'm doing, and they'll appreciate the song even more. Someone was like, "You need to make that number one" [Laughs]. I didn't want to though. It's a story about what relationships are. It embodies the example of having a girl who's been with you since day one. She's right there with you and she's been there no matter what. She stuck out. So, at the end of the day, she gets a reward. She was there when you didn't have money to eat for food. She was there when you weren't able to do anything. She believed in your dream. Now that you have it all, you want to give it to her.
What's "Ride It" about for you?
That's another one I had on Born II Sing Vol. 2. It's an older song, but I felt like it was a classic. The buzz is up now, and I knew people may have missed that song. Christina Milian got close while I was doing songs for her project. So, when it came down to it, I was like, "Can you return the favor and hop on one of my joints?" [Laughs] She heard the song and fell in love with it instantly. That was a great addition to put her on the album.
How did "Double Entendre" come together?
It had this west coast vibe to it as far as the bounce, but it was so smooth and R&B that it was camouflaged a little bit. It fit Sage the Gemini's style and range. We have another record on his album coming out. We get along great.
If The ReBirth were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I'd say a couple. It's the love story of a movie like The Notebook. They were just going back and forth, and at the end of the day, they ended up together. As far as the edginess of it, it's so versatile. I'd also say How to Be a Player. Bill Bellamy was clever about it [Laughs]. He wasn't too sloppy about it, and he was covering his tracks. So, I'd say a mix between The Notebook and How to Be a Player.
What's your favorite Eric Bellinger song?