The OkayPlayer Interview. Jody Watley Speaks on Soul Train, Rakim and Reclaiming The Name Shalamar

Jody Watley. Photography: Albert Sanchez

Jody Watley. Photography: Albert Sanchez

SHALAMAR ® reloaded with Nate Allen Smith, Jody Watley, Rosero McCoy. 2015

SHALAMAR ® reloaded with Nate Allen Smith, Jody Watley, Rosero McCoy. 2015

For those who came late, Jody Watley is a name synonymous with soul, an icon of music, fashion and dance who set the defining trends of at least four or five distinctive eras of black culture.. Read the full article on:  OkayPlayer

Get your tickets:

June 24 The Howard Theater D.C.

June 25 Midsummer Night Swing NYC

June 27 Let’s Rock London, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

June 28 Melkweg Amsterdam, Netherlands

Other Appearances:

June 23 SIRIUS FM The Groove 4-5 PM EST

June 24 MyFox5 News Washington, D.C.

July 3 KTLA Morning News Los Angeles

 

 

Jody Watley. Classic Photo of The Day. Blues and Soul. UK

#TBT On The Cover of the UK Music Magazine Blues and Soul in 1989.

#TBT On The Cover of the UK Music Magazine Blues and Soul in 1989.

Celebrating 25 years of my second album. Most fans think of my solo debut as the breakthrough and it was – as well as being trendsetting in style and video. However my second album is the one that was really quietly the most pioneering and to me overshadowed. My infusion of high fashion, commercial ad campaigns and layouts – uncommon for any black artist at the time, and only by one other Madonna. ‘Larger Than Life’ ushered in a raised bar for other female artists that would follow.  The pioneering “Friends”  featuring Eric B & Rakim; the first to feature Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop 16 bar verses and crossing over R&B, Pop, Dance, Hip Hop – as well as a genre crossing video featuring transgender, drag queens, underground club culture, B-Boys and Girls, voguing and Jean Paul-Gaultier couture blended into a mix of high end and street chic as well as my highest charting ballad ‘Everything.” There was no press release to stir controversy and bring attention about the casting of the video – for me it wasn’t about that. Everyone in the video was real, friends of friends – not models or professionals. Tyrone Procter helped cast it. Eric B and Rakim called some of their friends. What I wanted to represent the types of clubs I liked dancing at full of of types of people united by the music and stepping out in style to get down on the dance floor. It was a real club scene in the west village on a hot summer afternoon in NYC. It went over the heads of a lot of people..my label didn’t know what to make of it, and weren’t happy with it – but let me do what I envisioned and I’m thankful.

I also found success overseas in the Japan, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom among others as well. It was always a challenge because I wasn’t the typical ‘urban black artist’ and was always in a struggle to shine on my own terms, remaining true to myself, wanting to have standards, authenticity to my artistry. 25 years later this is still true in everything I do whether on the commercial radar or not. It’s true no matter what your job or career is – be the best you.

“Real Love” which remains one of MTV’s Most Nominated Video’s and “Most of All” are featured on the Top 28 David Fincher video’s : HERE 

Photography: Steven Meisel

Makeup: Francois NARS

Hair: Oribe

Art Direction: Lynn Robb and Jody Watley

Produced by Andre Cymone

Executive Producer:  Jody Watley

#itsinthemusic #JodyWatley

Jody Watley Classic Song of The Day. “Friends” featuring Eric B and Rakim.

The state of music can always be debated depending on a person’s personal tastes. That said, there’s no doubt the bar has been lowered if not obliterated completely in some genres. Today’s rap / hip-hop music is deep in misogyny, promotes violence, drug use, getting drunk, glamourizing death, overtly sexual themed lyrics, how big a woman’s ass is, pumping date rape – as if it’s cool. I’m appalled – where did it all go wrong? Some are heralded for going to prison. Really?  It’s one thing to live your dream but it’s another to sell your soul so low without regard for the message or influence just to be ‘popular’ or to make millions of dollars. It’s an outrage that corporations i.e major labels put a lot of money behind these artists and their “messages”, while those with quality and a true love for music and the message languish without support. The fact that these songs are pumped up and out a full blast in shopping malls and boutiques is beyond comprehension as little ones in tow with their parents are subjected to the profanity laced obscenities. It’s a shame really and I’d go as far as to say plain evil. I’ve been an artist for 3 decades and I ask myself what’s really going on in the music business? I believe parents have the primary responsibility for the influence over their children and this goes for extended family and friends, however one can’t turn a blind eye to not just a lack of balance but to the messages being highly promoted and sponsored. An agenda? I say yes.

My song with “Friends” was the first collaboration between a Pop/R&B artist and hardcore hip-hop/rap to feature the custom 16 verse ( I called it a duet when I pitched it at the time) to crossover and become Top Ten Hot 100, R&B Soul and Dance..and all with a timeless message and zero obscenities. I just wanted to make a great song about betrayal. In my head I could only hear the tones of Rakim – it took some convincing to make my label get it. They always wanted me to be “more urban, more ghetto, more street..” – all of which I found marginalizing and insulting but couldn’t see how I related to Eric B and Rakim, I just said ‘trust me – it will work because it’s real.” Luckily, Rakim loved it and was onboard along with Eric B.  That’s why I know how artists get sucked into the ‘corporate’ mindset of the imagery they’d like black artists to project. I was never having that and fought to maintain my authenticity.

The video notably blends b-boys, drag queens, and a variety of party people in unity for a good time capturing a slice of New York nightlife at the time. I’m in Jean Paul-Gaultier couture fresh off he Parisian runway that year. A great time was had by all on that sweltering summer day in the village in 1989. Fabulous and street in it’s realness without pandering, being contrived or sending a negative message, certain stereotypes or coonery. Proud.

Jody Watley. Black Music Month

Jody Watley is included in music’s pivotal moments from 1987 via The ROOT. Click the link to read and view the gallery with Jody, Michael and Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, Eric B. and Rakim and more, celebrating 25 years.

The quality of commercial music and artistry today just isn’t the same.

http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/black-music-back-day-remember-1987?wpisrc=root_lightbox