It’s no secret that Paul Laurence is disappointed with the music industry and its decline of authentic Rhythm and Blues.
Instead of being an Ogre about his dismay, he decided to act on it by presenting a sophisticated sound that compliments neo soul, rhythm and blues, as well as jazz annotations, or in his words, “The Momma and Daddy Music—the grown folks stuff”.
Laurence’s career triumphed in the eighties with R&B artist such as Evelyn King, Howard Johnson, and Freddie Jackson, whom till this day, still credits Laurence for kick starting his very successful singing career. Laurence wrote the lyrics for many singles. For instance, Rock With Me Tonight (For Old Times Sakes), was one of those chart topping ballads, produced and written by Laurence but sung by Freddie Jackson.
His resume is wide-ranging; so, when a legendary producer like Laurence offers up a bowl of wisdom in regards to the music industry, it's best to sit quietly and digest the knowledge by listening.
For starters, we learned that while creating the harmonies for his new single, Laurence used a style similar to Quincy Jones.
“It would be his [Quincy Jones] record, but he would feature artist that he was working with and artist that he was potentially going to do records on."
As for the new digs, Laurence and Melodik (Melvonie Jackson, Temple Dunham and Janie Dorsey) released their single today, June 16, 2017.
“We were mastering it. We want(ed) to make sure that it goes through all the paperwork and stuff so I can get it ready for Itunes and Spotify and things like that.
The young girls are in Virginia State, and they are in Virginia State College.
The single is actually my blueprint. You know, trying to compete with the way they do music today, I’d be out of my league. I have to focus on what I know how to do. It’s going to sound like today, but it’s going to have what I would call, ‘going through the whole song without it being only two-bars on the record.' I’m going to take you back to the experience and the journey of a song. The artist just happens to be contemporary, so that’s the twist."
Laurence met one of the singers while he was actually living in Charlotte. (Yeah, we had a super-producer living right in the Queen City and no one mentioned it.)
"One of the popular radio stations in Charlotte had a music seminar that summer, and I was on the panel. I spoke and talked to the audience; her (Melvinie Jackson) and her father came up to me and introduced themselves. I invited them back to my studio which I had at the time in Charlotte, and low and behold, she could really sing."
Laurence said that he worked with her before she went off to school at Virginia Tech. Last year, they reconnected and decided to do something with her career.
“I thought she was talking about doing a chorus at school, or something like the ‘Glee Club.”
Again, the artist floored Laurence with her floetic capabilities. She also presented an entire singing group.
“Low and behold, what I saw, I knew it was the missing ingredient to what I was trying to do for my release. I already had a male artist, but I didn’t have the female component, and they just happened to be fresh on the spot, and I had a song available so we did it.
Laurence agrees that the industry changed its marketing strategies through the years, but it still doesn't matter.
“I’m going to go back to the earlier days of hustlin when I got on. I didn’t have any money or anything like that. I’m going back to that mindset, (and) ‘You just go at it.’
I’m going to approach the radio stations … I have a bunch of internet stations that, 'Thank God,' they say they are going to stomp on it [play it] the moment it comes out. It’s getting it out to the rest of the radio [nationally] that’s going to be the challenge. I’m just gonna go at it. If they say, ‘No,' I just want to know, 'What will it take?”
Laurence understands that closed mouths don’t get fed in this business, so if there is another entrance into broadcasting, he doesn’t mind asking for the right direction, to the people that will let him through those golden gates of propagation.
He also knows the latest action plans for ITunes and Spotify, which is helpful for any breakout artist. Laurence stated that if the music doesn’t spread organically, it’s all a crap shoot anyway.
It seems rather risky to stay original this day and age with so many logistics surrounding music placement and publishing rights.
But, Laurence isn’t nervous at all… “There is a certain level of anxiety if you want people to love your stuff, and then you’ll listen to someone else’s music and go, ‘Wow! That stuff is really good,’ but you can’t worry about that because you are not going to be able to stop them from being good. You just have to do the best that you can do and go from there. Nobody is going to stop me from being good if I’m good. I can’t worry about yours and how I’m competing with you or whatever. I know people get discouraged if they hear things that’s much better than what they’re doing. They are gonna be what they are gonna be and you just have to be what you are going to be.”
Staying somewhat authentic to his true sound, Laurence switched it up just a little so listeners don’t feel like they’re coming in on the Night Shift with the Commodores.
“I’m careful to not make it sound like you’re listening to an old song in terms of how the production is. I think my production techniques are current, but the song itself is old-school. Without bragging, these young Cats just cannot do what I do, and that’s what I got going for me. You can try this but, you will probably have to learn if from me over a period of time. You’re not going to be able to do it right away, and vice versa. I can’t do the simplicities that they do because I don’t see it anything I do. If you’re going to give me a two-bar groove for that whole song, I’m bored after the first thirty seconds; so, it’s hard for me to focus on making a song like that. I’m trying to get it back to where people love the music and it wasn’t just, ‘I have to have it because this is all I have,’ and I that’s where I think the music industry is now. It’s not that there isn’t good stuff out there. It’s just that good stuff isn’t getting through."
Speaking of those good spirits in the form of melodies, Paul Laurence and Meoldik’s latest single, I Still Miss You is a story that’s reminiscent to On my Own, by Michael McDonald and Pattie Labelle, paired with the harmonies from Melodik that are a bit soulful and cherubically mature.
Listen Here: I Still Miss You ITunes Sample
Laurence said that the recipe for making a good album is subjective.
"If you're going to listen to something that I have done, then it felt like you went on a little journey. All I can relate it to is when people listened to the music back in the day like the Marvin Gaye and the Stevie Wonder. You can listen to those songs and you didn't need a video. Everything was there already-- of course a video helps, but it wasn't needed. Today, you almost need the video to finish the story."
In terms of talent, Laurence said he couldn't see himself working with anyone from this generation of lyricist, though he doesn't want to seem arrogant about it.
"I would say that based on what I'm hearing from people, it's hard to say. Either they are hiding their talent or it's masked. You know, I can't really tell if it's really them, so it''s hard. Nobody has blown me away that's really new in that way. I'm sure there is someone, but in terms of what they present with who's new... I don't see it. I'd rather find that artist, and I would know what it is. But, I'm sure over time, and hopefully that will expose itself and I'll have a better answer for you. It's really just hard to say cause the music they make right now, they don't care about their talent because the songs are current with what the younger generation likes, and it's pop culture. You can put anybody on that, in my opinion."
Click here for sample of I Still Miss You