Vince Herbert is dressed in a blue blazer and plaid gingham shirt. We sit across from each other in a vacant cubicle. I had just finished interviewing him and his wife–Tamar about their reality show, which would air later that night. His smile is kind and infectious as he answers messages on his Blackberry. You don’t really expect someone who manages Lady Gaga to be so genuinely sweet and approachable. Let’s face it, industry people can be quite haughty. But, Vince is nothing of the sort.
So intrigued by his pleasant demeanor, I ask: “How do you stay humble?” He softly laughs then responds: “I just feel like when you go through what I’ve been through in my life, losing my mom at 13, losing my dad a couple of years later. And then burying my brother a few years later. You just really realize what life really means.” I believe him. “Like all that other stuff is really not that serious, because we waste so much time and energy on all the wrong things,” he continues and before I know it we are knee deep in conversation about his first check as a producer, the time he spent with Aaliyah during Christmas in Detroit and why we shouldn’t fuss over her posthumous album.
TUD: So how long have you been producing?
Vince: God, I’ve been in this business for like 15 years. I started when I was like 13.
TUD: And your first check was how much?
Vince: My very, very first check was $3,000 for a remix. And then my very big check was like a month later, which was like, maybe, $6,000 I think.
TUD: So you dived right in and was getting cash?
Vince: I was bustin’ my butt.
TUD: You worked with Aaliyah on her album “One In A Million.” How do you feel about the posthumous project being headed by Drake?
Vince: I feel like, you know, music is blindless, colorless and it doesn’t have any type of thought to it. It just wants to make you feel good and make you sad. So I think it’s a great thing. I think if Aaliyah was here she definitely would’ve liked Drake. She would’ve wanted to work with him. Because she loved to be kind, new and innovative. And I think with him and his producer 40 are doing it great.
TUD: Do you think the backlash is unnecessary?
Vince: I think it is. I think, you know, music is just music. It’s a blessing that God gave to us. And I don’t think we should make unnecessary fuss about it. The world that we’re living in now, you see people dropping off like flies. And to keep people’s legacies living and keeping their music going, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s like, people do it all the other times in other communities, in white communities and stuff like that. I feel like our community spends more time-wasting time on unnecessary things. I think there’s more important things. People that are homeless and kids that are starving, and people who are drinking unclean water that are more important than making a fuss about who’s working on somebody’s music, and if they knew em or not. It really doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think God would be pleased with us doing that, cause that’s like nonsense. That’s not what really matters. The album matters, but what really matters more than that are people voting. Are people communicating with each other? Are people saying hello to each other when you walk down the street. That don’t cost nothin. We’re not doing what really matters. And that’s the sad thing about our world and what we live in.
TUD: Did he reach out to you?
Vince: Drake didn’t reach out to me. But the people that’s putting out the music, um, Aaliyah’s uncle and her cousin, I know them very well and I talk to them. They’re just trying to extend her brand and her career and her life in the music business. They’re not trying to cure cancer; they’re putting out music.
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TUD: I know it was point where he said, Okay, I’m reaching out to everybody who worked on it. And that Missy and Timbaland came out and were like, ‘You didn’t reach out to me.’ And they were the main ones!
Vince: Yeah, but even on Aaliyah’s last album, Missy and Timbaland didn’t even work on it. You know, we all really gotta do our homework before we start judging. Even when you do a remix with somebody, like, you know, you don’t really meet the people or know the people. I’ve done plenty of remixes where I never even met the artist. And just try to do a great job.
TUD: What’s your fondest memory of Aaliyah?
Vince: My fondest memory of Aaliyah is spending Christmas with her and her family in Detroit. And um, going to the movie theatre, and going through a metal detector in Detroit, because that’s how bad the movie theatre was. But this little girl sat in the studio and she worked hard. She had a good spirit. Good person, good family. Her mom, Diane; her father, Michael, and her brother. Just really nice people. I really enjoyed my time with them.
TUD: You’ve worked with all types of people, all types of big artists like Gaga and all the big names. How do you stay humble and such a nice person? Because you’re extremely nice.
Vince: Like all that other stuff is really not that serious, because we waste so much time and energy on all the wrong things. I still make mistakes today. With my wife, we disagree and argue, but I think like, ‘That was so stupid. That was dumb. It wasn’t worth it.’ Because we’re not perfect. We’re not God. I just try to do the right thing. I try to be the right person. I try to treat people the way I wanna be treated. And I want people to be nice and say hello and good morning. It’s like, nothing wrong with that.
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