COOL & DEADLY
Word by Meshack Blaq, Pix by AnimalChan
In the post-millennium transformation of R&B into yesterday's Classic Soul, tomorrow's stars are few and far between. There's a short list of female singers that have what it takes to make the grade and an even shorter list of males. Carl Thomas is one of the chosen few. Many compare him to Marvin Gaye while others compare him to a ghetto Stevie Wonder. One thing is for certain; Carl Thomas is the first Bad Boy artist to have his own video without P-Diddy all up in it. He also stands apart from most, if not all others by way of composition and melody. He gets respect in the streets of Hip Hop while impressing the soft-shoe R&B audience enough to share the best of both worlds. And for that alone boys and girls he's COOL & DEADLY
KRONICK: So what's the whole Carl Thomas setup? You got the rehearsal going on right now with the live band. What's the deal when you're onstage performing?
CARL: When I'm onstage performing it's just the band and I. I might have some friends doing backup vocals. It's nothing real complicated. I don't have a Hype Man.
KRONICK: Then again, you don't rap do you?
CARL: Nah. I mean, I've been told I carry the spirit of one, (laughs) whatever that means. I'm a very active member of the Hip Hop community, don't get me wrong. But this flavor of what's going on in the room right now is what I'm trying to create. You see and hear my musicians creating the vibe that surrounds me. It's music. Hopefully good music that people will enjoy, even if it isn't Hip Hop.
KRONICK: Seems like a lot of people know your voice, but they probably don't know who you are by name. But you definitely have a voice that they've heard. I don't wanna sound crass or rough, but I would like you to let us know about Carl Thomas beyond just the "Guy who sings on Bad Boy".
CARL: It's All Good, for sure. My situation is a real fortunate one because I've been in this Game for a minute. Bad Boy is my fourth record deal. I don't really feel like it's necessary to state my other situations, other than this album reflects my feelings.
KRONICK: Damn! Just right there, the general assumption is that you are a new artist and Bad Boy pretty much put you on. And you had to wait in line to get your Shine!
CARL: I figure a lot of people were gonna feel like that. But in a sense you're right, they did put me on because we exist in a business where credibility is everything. And sadly to say, it's not about what you think. It's about how credible you are in your craft and what you're doing. I guess a lot of people that weren't familiar with the open-mic circuit in New York City didn't really didn't see me as credible because they didn't know me. I guess if I was them I'd be like, "Who is this clown?" Shit, a lot of times I am like 'Who is this clown?' It's cool. I'll be a freshman. Just like I'll be a sophomore, just like I'll be a junior, and a senior. And then graduated from this bitch!
KRONICK: Another misconception writers may have is that you're from New York.
CARL: Nah, I'm a Chi-Town kid. Which is funny because the first Rap record I did was the "World Is Filled" with pimps and hoes. I owe a lot to that record and when people heard that song they thought I was some old elderly guy from Vegas with a denim suit on and some Stacy Adams!
KRONICK: Weren't you on the remix for "Been Around The World" with Puff & Ma$e?
CARL: Yes, and that was real interesting because it was the first time people got an opportunity to put the face with the name. And it was weird for me because I lead a very normal life. But in the music business the dream is more powerful than the truth. And if you're on Bad Boy and they see you with Puffy, next thing you know when they see you in the grocery store they wanna know where the 'Rolie's at? Where's the Benz that I ain't even drove yet? It's All Good, but sometimes I forget.
KRONICK: You gotta admit though with the all white backgrounds and shiny suits it tends to make things larger than life.
CARL: Well it's Entertainment. It was real cool to tour with Puff because he took the time to just personally hit me off with certain notes. And he always observed me as being a student behind what he was doing. He has incredible magnetism onstage and he knows how to excite a crowd. That's something that any entertainer can pick up on because it's not necessarily what he's rappin' about more so than the things he does in between that really gets the show going. And those are just notes. I'm a young G, but it's all to the good. That was my first real taste of notoriety. My biggest struggle right now is being in the halfway point between what people perceive as normal for what I do and the reality of it. I'm really interested in just giving people what I know I can give 'em, and that's a real good time when they come check me. 'Cause I'm a ham kinda Nigga. I like showin' off. Especially when I know I can do somethin' real good.
KRONICK: What is your approach to R&B? There's some Cats out there that approach it from a real delicate sensitive perspective that for lack of a better word is getting "in touch" with their feminine side.
CARL: Like a Beeyatch!! Nah, let me stop. But that's the perception is that most male R&B singers are Beeyatches!! (we laugh together) My approach is realistic. I'm gonna do what it is I'm gonna do regardless of how a muh'fucka feels about it. I've always been a rebel like that. As far as the status quo is concerned: if I feel like I wanna cry, I'ma cry. If I feel like I wanna bust somebody upside the head, I'm gonna do that because everything has it's time and place with just cause. And I really don't give a fuck about somebody talkin' about me getting' "in touch" with my feminine side. Usually the men that say those type of things are shut away by the ladies anyway. They're usually outcasts when it comes to that type of thing. It's a mental thing; it's a security thing. I understand their kind: Haterade is a nasty drink from the makers of jealousy juice. Get that bullshit outta here. R&B is what it is. It's still R&B no matter what you're singing about. I think R&B is a style. I don't think it's a lyrical content. If it were, then there'd be no difference between that and Country Music.
KRONICK: What do you think of gimmicks and their usage to get over?
CARL: Everybody has a right to make a dollar, and no one has a right to say in which manner that you do that. But I think that people should be mindful that everything is cause and effect. And that is all that I have to say about that.
KRONICK: What are some of the other songs people have heard your voice on?
CARL: Noreaga, Lil' Ceas', Mic Geronimo, The Beatnuts, and Tash. I was workin' my way around. And of course, Puff Daddy's albums and my own shit comin out. I got around this year!
KRONICK: Any guest MC's on your album?
CARL: No. I didn't put any Rap on my album because I wanted to keep the two things as separate as the Gemini that I am. I do rap records as a way to express my alter ego. I just wanted to separate the two because I know what people were probably expecting, so I did this record according to how I felt about it. I didn't feel like it was any disrespect for me not to put it on the album because I feel like I'm an active participant and citizen of the Hip Hop community who has the autonomy, freedom, and right to express my craft in many different ways. I'm not a Rapper, so I can't do an album of Rap. This album is another aspect that will allow me, if the Lord is willing, to have another album or EP between albums that I'll be able to show you a different aspect. I don't want it to get so stigmatized that when you see me on VH1 singing a song with Enrique Iglesias that my fans won't be offended. I want to massage people to the point where they expect the unexpected from me. It's not a shock to see me singing with different genres of music and cross-cultural things.
KRONICK: What's the biggest lesson learned while waiting to put this album out?
CARL: Balance. While I'm sitting talking with you right now, there are 20 other major things besides Carl Thomas the Artist that's going on in my life. That's one of the biggest mistakes I've made before by putting all of my eggs in one basket and not being a balanced human being. Now if this all went away tomorrow I wouldn't go crazy. If it were a 20 year old me, I'd probably go crazy. A record deal does not define your artistry. It's a timing thing and it's gonna come like I know it is, like I always knew it was. When I understood that it was a timing thing then time really wasn't a big deal to me at all. So I found that I was Blessed because I had a chance to exist in this business at a collegiate state behind the scenes watching everybody else trip up and fall over this and over that. It ain't nothin' that I can't trip over but it's just an intervention of grace. I'm no different than anyone else. The same pitfalls that someone else fell in are waitin' for me. I just gotta keep God in my life and God on my side. And just really keepin' it real with myself that this could really all go away. I've spent more money than most people have ever had a chance to count just bullshitin' and jackin' off thinkin' it's always gonna be there and people are always gonna love you. But that's just not the truth. It just ain't so.
KRONICK: Any collabos with Joe Hooker?
CARL: Joe Hooker did some writing on my album. I wanna state right now that he is more than just a Hook singer- Joe Hooker is also a talented writer and my album is proof of that. But I'm also gonna do something on the Joe Hooker project on Crazy Joint Entertainment in 2000.
KRONICK: Are you gonna be on any DJ Ashknuckles tapes?
CARL: Oh yea. Ashknuckles is my Dog! Matter of fact DJ Ashknuckles introduced me to his cousin Rose Me and I think we goin' out!!
KRONICK: So what does that mean for all the other adoring chickenheads & female fans out there tryin' to get at you?
CARL: I just told her I'd let her take me out. She's a vegetarian so she wanted to take me out for some tu-no & bolog-no sandwiches. Why do vegetarians eat that stuff anyway? My man Talk Show got lyrics about that. He's an East Coast extension of the Likwit Crew by way of Sacramento.
KRONICK: Why do they call him Talk Show?
CARL: That's his name. Show him your I.D. Dogg. I'm about to fuck you up! (He pulls out his California Drivers License and it say's Talk Show)