R&B soulman Anthony David marches to the beat of his own drum. He writes and sings about what he feels and believes his truth to be. Although Anthony David isn’t the most famous singer there is, he has been in the game for a while and has experienced a great deal. Since starting out singing background and writing songs for India Arie, the 41 year-old guitarist has made quite a name for himself with albums that touch on themes of love, government, and religion.
I got a chance to speak to Anthony David while he was prepping for a concert in New York City. Anthony David was everything his music projected him to be. He’s a very laid back everyman who shoots straight from the hip with intelligence. During our brief conversation, Anthony David and I talked about his new album “Love Out Loud” which is in stores now, his thoughts on R&B singers creating trendy music rather than the kind that will last the test of time, and what he would say if he had to go to Capitol Hill and lobby for the decriminalization of marijuana.
TUD: You’ve said you don’t shy away from boundaries because you want to expand those boundaries. Why is expanding boundaries important for you?
AD: I’ve just been around forever and I’ve seen people make up new names for sh*t and it’s all the same thing. When people use the word ‘classic,’ then you don’t have any limits within that. I think people limit themselves when they make up new terms for the same things. What they don’t realize is that when they make up a new name, they are freezing themselves within that time. It’s like people make themselves fresh and new for now, but when the next thing comes along, they won’t be apart of that either.
Do you find that R&B isn’t getting the love it deserves because people try to label it something other than soul/R&B?
Yeah. I don’t know exactly why but there’s become divide in our minds about what’s R&B and soul. Growing up, the music genre wasn’t divided anyway. Marvin Gaye is R&B and soul. Michael Jackson is an R&B artist yet he is the most popular artist in the world. That’s why I’m like, ‘Well, if he can be that, then who cares what the music genre is called.’ I did see the electronic parts of it get pushed to the forefront and at some point, artists became embarrassed to be R&B. and I get it because I was that way when I was hit with the neo-soul label but then I just figured it was all the same sh*t. [laughs]
Your last album “As Above, So Below” had a little bit of a political edge. Why did you decide to make your new album title ‘Love Out Loud’ instead of continuing to sing about politics?
I think all of my albums are politically charged. I’ve had little pieces in each record. Maybe people caught it more on that album because it was more blatant. Then again, it’s always been in the music. I talked about gentrification on my first project “The Red Clay Chronicles.” I’ve always had stuff like that in my songs. It got noticed a lot more because of Obama being elected. Listeners thought I had made some records that had political undertones because of him, but I had always been doing it. “Love Out Loud” has some political stuff on there too. I think that’s all related–political, social, personal–they’re all related.
If you think about it, you can count N.W.A. as being political. You can count some gangsta rappers as political if you look at their situation through the lens of why they are who they are.
Do you think the Internet helped lower the standards for entry to the industry? Everybody thinks they’re a singer or producer nowadays.
That’s what’s good and bad about the Internet. It’s bad because there’s sort of a less qualification factor there. But it’s good because it takes out a lot of filters and music is supposed to be just emotion. So if somebody has a raw emotion and it just so happens to appeal to people, then it allows music to be more democratic. Sometimes, you don’t want that but you gotta let it be.
When people hear “Love Out Loud” for the first time, what do you want them to take away from it?
First, I want them to just enjoy their experience with the music. Secondly, going back to the boundaries, for me it was fun to just do stuff. There’s a romantic thread there for a little while. So chill with your girl or man. In the tradition of R&B, I want people to realize it can be as serious–melodically or lyrically–as anything else. It doesn’t have to be nice or considerate all the time.
One of my favorite records of yours was “Smoke One.” With people trying to legalize marijuana, if you had to go to Capitol Hill and argue for legalization, what would you say?
First of all, it’s just not damaging. It’s nowhere near as damaging as alcohol. There’s plenty of money to be made from it.
The history of why it became illegal and the amount of regulations to the point where you can’t even get hemp which is not even weed! It just doesn’t make any sense. But just on the recreational tip, it just not damaging. We’ve lived with this for a long time. The person in the White House right now has smoked and admitted it. And it’s beneficial for like cancer pain and all of that good sh*t.
What do you see for Anthony David in the future?
Just work. I want to try to find some more creative outlets. I used to do screenplays before and I’m really into the YouTube specials. I’m trying to find some concept to make one of those. I love those web shows like Awkward Black Girl and stuff like that. See, that’s why I love music and the digital thing. Because people like Issa Rae can take an idea and get their own audience and develop it themselves. So I’m looking for some kind of outlet like that. But all in all, just being creative and making stuff. You know, same sh*t, but trying to make sure that there is a voice out there saying what not a lot of people are saying.
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