Photos by Helen Marie
INTERVIEW AND STORY BY HELEN MARIE
SHOWTIME: Starting promptly at 8PM Dwele steps onto the B.B. King Blues Club stage for a glimpse of his new album W.ants, W.orld, W.omen.
Tapping into his hip-hop roots he goes right into his upbeat “I Want.” While bringing a urban-rhythmic vibe that the crowd adores, he performs “Dodgin’ Your Phone” with the help of his three-piece band and two background singers. As we are introduced to his alter ego persona in “Wants,” Dwele tells us he wants to make music that 20 years from now will make you “remember that summer of 2010.” “There are times when you need someone, I will be by your side,” he says, and suddenly the audience is filled with sweet memories as Dwele serenades us with “Open Your Eyes.”
“I’m trying to make that feel good music y'all,” Dwele continues. As he takes a seat behind the keys to sing a song for the ladies in the smooth, seductive fashion that is his signature. His two background singers then compliment his show perfect with solos of some great R&B hits of the '90s! “A lot of ya’ll don’t know that I’m the king of pickup lines,” he claims, sharing a few witty ones then goes into “Find Our Love.” The audience goes wild. Dwele gave a great performance that led up perfectly to the lady of the hour, Lalah Hathaway.
Rocking a black, shimmery top, dark jeans, barefoot, with a crown full of beautiful locs, Lalah arrives and we are anxious because every second of her relentless stage show is intense! The weather this time of year is already right to hear Lalah beaming about "Summertime." Her sultry side steamed up on “Breath” doing exactly as it should—take our breath away. Giving us a taste of her new upcoming album tentatively dropping next spring, Lalah sings, “I Will Always Love You” and we are spellbound.
Lalah's career came full circle resurrecting "Coming Back" from her self-titled debut. The audience's response with a standing ovation showed they were riding with her for over 20 years, or at least for the memorable night. Her legacy continued, as did her father's, the great Donny Hathaway who she gave honor to in her passionate version of his “Forever, For Always For Love.” Naturally Hathaway's daughter was gifted with a refreshing ability to represent the talent and passion being the product of a creative combination of good genes and the hard work needed to build them into last week's spectacle. I was in awe. Before I knew it, the electric guitarist and drummer began to jam out and give us a show! Guiding us through time Lalah and her background singer follow up with one of the most soulful Michael Jackson renditions I’ve heard! Singing and scatting in perfect symmetry, they did a beautiful tribute.
I really like your new project. It’s definitely unique as well, what inspired the concept?
Dwele: Well I was thinking one day about how much I like Gucci and other nice things and sometimes I wish that I could talk about those things in my music, so I decided to create the “Want” [part] about my alter ego. That’s where I let myself be free to talk about the things I wouldn’t usually sing about. “World” is what I call my “audio time capsule” of the world as I see it today. It’s more about political/social issues. The “Women” section of the album is about relationships and love. Of course I had to make that music for the ladies!
Well, of course! I noticed on “Dodging Your Phone Calls” you said some will say, “This dude’s supposed to be making baby making music.” Do you ever feel restricted from doing hip-hop because of the expectations to do R&B?
Dwele: Well that’s why “wants” was so fun to do. It gave me a chance to rap again on a project and give my supporters a taste of my love for hip-hop. Hopefully they like it and I do look forward to doing other projects in the future that show my other sides. At some point I want to put out some house, rock and more hip-hop too.
Is it difficult sometimes to balance Dwele as the artist from Dwele the man?
Dwele: No. I have to say that I am the same way on stage as I am any other time. I just like to have fun. I think I do a nice job of keeping in touch with my fans, they can find me on Twitter too @therealdwele.
So what would you say is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made so far in your career?
Dwele: Sleep. I must say that I LOVE sleep and when I get a day off I like to sleep all day!
LOL Word. Ok well at this point are there any countries or cities you look forward to performing in?
Dwele: Yeah, South Africa.
You and Lalah Hathaway are on the B.B. Kings bill, wow. Any other collabo’s or shows you look forward to or have already enjoyed?
Dwele: Really too many to say. I really enjoyed working with David Banner, Raheem Devaughn, DJ Quik, Monica Blaire, Lloyd Dwayne and it was good to work with Slum village of course, as always.
Do you have any other passions that we can look to know about soon?
Dwele: I am really working on getting into videos, editing and that whole side of production now.
I can’t wait to see that. So I’m going to just ask you few quick questions before I let you go get ready for the show. Just say whatever first comes to mind.
When you write: paper and pen or laptop?
Dwele: Paper and pen.
Late night picker-upper: coffee or tea?
Your mode of transportation: driving or flying?
If you could evoke the essence of any one artist from the past in your music, who would it be?
Dwele: Marvin Gaye. He wrote music that changed the world and inspired the people.