RHYTHM AND BLUES
Keith Sweat brings back to Honolulu a sweet taste of the "real music" that rap has been missing
THE infatuation with everything old-school hasn't faded yet. Last year brought a flood of musical acts from the '70s, '80s and '90s, from the Eagles and Mötley Crüe to DJ Kool Herc, Public Enemy and De La Soul.
This weekend brings another trip down memory lane, with the "Hot Soul Music Jam" reuniting Honolulu residents with some big names from the last 20 years. All are still prominently featured on local radio stations, and continue to get spins in nightclubs around town to this day.
"Hot Soul Music Jam"
With Keith Sweat, Midnight Star and Zapp
» Place: Blaisdell Arena
» Time: 8 p.m. Friday
» Tickets: $40 to $55
» Call: 591-2211 or online at ticketmaster.com
Along with Midnight Starr and Zapp, R&B crooner Keith Sweat will make his Hawaii debut nearly two decades after songs like "I'll Give All My Love to You" and "I Want Her." We caught up with him via cell phone while the singer made his way to an Atlanta recording studio last week.
Question: So you're on your way to the studio. What's the name of your new album going to be?
Answer: My new album's called "The Sweat Hotel." (It) won't be out until March ... I'm pretty much finishing up on it right now.
Q: What can fans expect to hear?
A: Mid-tempo, up-tempo, slow ballads, you know, pretty much stuff that I've been accustomed to doing throughout the course of my career. ... Sexy love songs, that type of thing.
Q: You were one of the big players during the '90s heyday of New Jack Swing, when R&B music hadn't yet been overrun by hip-hop going mainstream. What are your thoughts on R&B today?
A: Man, you know, it's still not what it was. I mean, when I think about R&B music, I think about Gerald Levert, Johnny Gill -- you know what I'm saying? -- those type of artists. Babyface, Tony Tone Toni, Guy, that's what's lacking right now.
What people are doing right now, the music, I mean it's cool. I'm not mad at what they're doing, because it sounds good. I just miss, you know, the real music. I miss the R&B music. I love rap music, but I miss the R&B.
Q: Was the New Jack Swing era the best period for the genre?
A: It just goes back. It doesn't start with New Jack Swing. It goes back to Charlie Wilson. I mean honestly, realistically, I mean Stevie Wonder. That's what's lacking.
People are starting to miss it. It's gradually coming back, because you know they sampling everything with R&B in it. To be honest with you, the majority of rap songs I hear got R&B music behind it.
Q: You made a name for yourself in 1987 with "Make it Last Forever," and followed that with "I'll Give All My Love to You" three years later. Did things slow down at all after that?
A: I've been pretty much busy throughout my entire career. I've been fortunate, that's all.
Q: Well, you kept on putting out records, and continue to work with other artists. Is it true you worked with Cee-Lo on his newest album, along with producer Jazzy Pha?
A: Yeah, I'm one of the guests. I mean, Jazzy Pha worked with me on LSG, (and) Cee-Lo, he can sing.
I have nothing against working with different artists. That's what being creative is all about.
Q: What can fans expect from you in 2006?
A: I have the new album. From the new album comes touring and all of those type of things. I'm not a stranger to being on the road, so it's all good. Whatever it's going to take to make it happen.
Q: How does your family handle you going on the road? Is it any easier now?
A: My attitude is like, you can take your kids on the road in certain situations. I know people who have done that for years. ... I don't think whether you're a singer or movie star, I believe you still spend time with your kids in certain spots and situations.
Q: A lot of recording artists have given acting a try. Is there any chance you'll be making the jump to television or movies?
A: Well, I've done the "Martin" show, the Wayans' show, and some independent films before. ... (Los Angeles) is the place to be for that, to be honest with you, but I've been in Atlanta.
Q: Anything you want the people out here to know before you arrive?
A: I want to say thanks to everybody for the love and support, man. It means a lot to me.