“I was done with the industry. I was tired of the nonsense…”
Angie Stone has earned her reputation as one of the most well-known female artists in the R’n’B and soul world. With over 30 years in the industry, 3 Grammy nominations and 7 albums under her belt (including her latest album ‘Dream’), she is a woman who has experienced the highs and the lows of the industry. Neha caught up with the “No More Rain” singer on Pulse88 FM and talked about a range of topics including her relationship with her daughter following their domestic disagreement earlier on in the year, how she wanted to give up in the music industry, her relationship with her former lover D’Angelo and her friendship with Idris Elba. She even provided the ladies with some relationship advice!
“…if you really want to find a good man, a fine man, stop being so damn thirsty!”
You can read a summarised version of the interview or listen to the full interview below.
How you doing?
I am actually in a great space these days, God is good. I have a hot record right now, thank God for that. It’s been a minute but I’m in a good space.
What went behind the name of the album, ‘Dream’?
The name ‘Dream’ spawned from the producer Walter Millsap having a dream that God put on his heart to come and basically rescue Angie Stone. I think God knew I was about to give up. I was done with the industry. I was tired of the nonsense [from] all of the crazy press that is always wrong… Thirty-seven years in the business, a classy sister that has managed to dodge the ball of all the mess and all of a sudden it comes crashing down one brick at a time and I’m like no way, I’m out. When he called me up and said “Hey, God put something on my heart in my dream” and I said go for it because I’m done, let me see what you can do because I’m tired of trying. The minute I turned it over to him and God, voila – the birth of the album and the birth of the name.
When did you start feeling like you were done?
I had put out an album that was very good, it was called Rich Girl, nobody knew about it. I had done two indie labels all of which were trying to make me pay for everything – I didn’t have any money. When I did my first album ‘Black Diamond’, it was associated with Gerry DeVeaux, DeVeaux Music at the time. I never had a proper agreement with Gerry and as a result I was pretty much robbed blind and I didn’t make any money off any of those top selling albums – not one royalty cheque even till today. Publishing rights and songwriters some [money]. I think people thought that I was swimming in doe because worldwide we sold 10 million albums but the truth of the matter is that Gerry DeVaux was swimming in doe. I’m very upset that it went so long and I was afraid to acknowledge it… I was done because I was putting out great music for years and the ones that counted, I didn’t get a dime for it.
What kind of themes does the album go into because from what it sounds like, you wrote it in quite a tough period of your life.
Theme is love, joy, finding yourself again, starting over, giving yourself one more shot, being strong enough to end the album with “everything tried to knock me down and you still didn’t break me”. You didn’t break my spirit, you didn’t break anything which in my opinion they [the press] intended to do – annihilate and assassinate my character. There has been a stint in the news with my daughter, all of which there are two sides to everything and nobody knows my side or her real side of the story. That came out and happened at a very inopportune time.
I wanted to touch upon the daughter situation and just congratulate you for getting through that because the press were really negative. How does one survive something like that?
I feel like everything that I went through I couldn’t get through without God being at the centre of my life and the source of my strength. I get real quiet and I be still when I am under attack and I think the key to getting over it and getting through it is to just be still.
And how are things with your daughter now?
Everything is great. My daughter is in a great space, so am I. As of late, as you can probably see, there is a whole bunch of hoopla on the internet about myself and Idris Elba. Idris is like my brother, he’s an awesome cat.
Yes I did see something.
Yeah they’re going crazy with that now and a lot of it is unfortunately rooted in envy and jealousy because of course, everybody knows of my relationship with D’Angelo and a lot of the media is like “she’s already had one hunk, why does she get to have two?”. First of all, let me just commend Idris Elba for not even following up on the madness because he knows that I am crazy about him as a person, as a friend, he’s like a brother... I’m coming to the realisation that I can’t relay anything remotely close to admiring someone or having someone admire me because the world is just full of hate… Idris unfortunately is a part of that web now because I did say that he had a thing for me but the truth of the matter is that the thing was just the thing. We both knew it and it was ok. I made decisions on our friendship because I wanted to be friends forever. I didn’t want a relationship and lose my friend because that’s what happens when you move fast.
And this was a while ago right?
Yes way back, 10 years. When I did [the] “I wanna thank you” video, he was a feature. We both had the same manager at the same time. What I did fall in love with was his British accent… a lot of people in London thought we were kicking it and that’s because the chemistry was there. The chemistry wasn’t one sided so let me say in Idris’ defence, yes there were some unaddressed emotional feelings of attachment but I was warned to just be still and not to act on anything… He never actually came out and said I wanna get with you. But the chemistry [was there], you know when a person is digging you and it was told to me by so many other people around us. I had been told “don’t do it”. My manager got involved and kind of said no. It was one of those things and it could have been. Had I not been forewarned, it probably would have been.
Well honey I don’t blame you, Idris is fine.
Just for the fans, yes god, he is fine. He’s always been fine. He’s always been attractive. He’s always been one that the women sought after but if you know anything about Angie Stone, I never go after the one that everybody else is seeking, so guess what, while you guys are fighting over him, he’s looking for a chick like me who’s not trying to be the it girl and that’s just reality. That’s my secret ladies, if you really want to find a good man, a fine man, stop being so damn thirsty!
Angie Stone has spoken! She knows what she is talking about. If you want a good man, stop acting thirsty and that’s good advice!
Yeah because a lot of people ask me “Angie, what is your secret?” and if I’ve learned anything, it’s to be still. I don’t chase after the men that everybody else is chasing after. If you notice, most of the bad boys get good girls. They only toy with bad girls but they don’t end up staying with bad girls – they look for good girls and the good girls are the ones that are not looking for them. I’m not saying that all girls are bad girls, what I’m saying is, one of the things I can assure you on, is that any relationship that I have ended up in, I was sought after. And that’s real talk. That’s my advice.
Are you in a good space with your current label?
I’m in a great space because we have a huge hit record. If this record didn’t come into the charts where it did, it would mean I failed yet again. So this basically proves that the classic wins out all the time. I am grateful for the team I have in place right now [they] are responsible for really doing it a different way, approaching it a different way… revisiting my image, having an edgier vibe, something not so repetitive, you know, just taking it ione step at a time so I think we are in a decent place with Shanachie… I think they’re on their A-game. I think they know what they want. They’ve had quite a good success with Avery Sunshine as well who is a good friend of mine . I just think that when Randall [Grass] and all of them got an Angie Stone, they felt like they had royalty within their company and that they were honoured that I would give them a shot and that was the head nod that I needed – indie – I didn’t needed them as much as they needed me.
I’m glad you are with them. I’m glad they have made your record a success.
I was going to ask you, what has been the feedback overall from my fans there [UK]?
The feedback has been absolutely fantastic. The impression that I am getting is that everybody is just glad to have really good classic sounding RnB soul music and obviously everybody knows who Angie Stone is. The feedback has been great on my side.
Ok – that is all I needed to hear. Great, thank you so much.
Have you had many interviews over in the UK?
Yes I have had quite a few interviews. People are loving the album from what I understand. They’re picking and choosing from many of the tracks… as an artist I wouldn’t know what song to start with if I came to the UK because they love so many of them. It’s hard so im trying to prepare myself to come with a whole new show, something that they have never seen before and do something completely different.
Do you know when that’s going to be?
I know that they’re working on a tour right now. They’re trying to put some things together for early part of the year, it could be as soon as March.
How has your music grown over the years and how does this album compare with your previous ones?
I just think that this is a brighter montage of music. I think neo–soul became down trodden, it became overkill… I felt like it was recycled soul music. Everything started to sound the same. This album is brighter, it’s fun. You don’t have all of those dark dense chords. It’s not over the top, the harmonies are beautiful, the music is melodic and it’s bright.
And you actually started off in Hip Hop. If anybody knows about Angie Stone, you were in the first all girl hip hop group. Do you like today’s hip hop and if so, who is your favourite hip hop artist at the moment?
I love Kendrick Lamar because he’s still close and edgy enough to what it is I grew up on and what I believe in. My son is an upcoming hiphop artist that I’m really excited about. He’s gonna be dropping his mixtape in the early part of the year. My take on hip hop is that it is evolving. It’s something that we can appreciate as it’s not the same thing as what we did 35 years ago. It is hip hop that is enhanced by all genres of music, not just microphone and beats. I think all that’s good.
You collaborated with Dave Hollister in this album. The track ‘Begin Again’ is actually part of my RnB Chart here on the moment on Pulse88 radio.
Oh my God, everybody loves ‘Begin Again’. It’s the favourite song for my band.
When you come to London and perform, can you please dedicate that song to me? I love it.
You thinking we should do that song when we come to London?
A hundred percent.
I’m not surprised. A lot of people love that song… When I get over there unfortunately if Dave Hollister is not with me, I have to do it myself. I have to learn both parts… maybe I can get one of the London artists to do it.
I was just going to say, get a male artist to support you on the gig and then invite them on stage to do Dave’s part.
Exactly. You’re absolutely right darling.
I just wanted to ask about who you want to collaborate with.
I really want to do something with Lauryn Hill one day… I think she’s amazing. She’s one of the few people I would actually love to work with.
How is your relationship with D’Angelo at the moment?
We have good days, we have bad days and we have half way days [laughs]. Everything can be cool one minute and then one minute it can go crazy. Because a lot of pressure is on the relationship and is so over the top. I think people make such a big to do about it and it puts a lot of strain on moving forward. He did tell me prior to releasing album that “when I’m done with this, I think I wanna do something with you” and I heard him and said ok that’s cool – but did I really think it was going to happen? No. I just know that the pressure of his life, his family doesn’t like media to know anything … we’re two different people. At the end of the day, I think it would be brilliant if we did something together as it would bring us both back into that seat of control in our careers with regards to our music. But I have to be the first one to tell you that with all of the hoopla and everything else that goes on in regard to where he is in his relationship with his whoever, his significant other, I think it has a lot to do with a little intimidation – a lot of women feel intimidated by the power of our relationship. I think that has and will always stand in the way of us moving forward because let’s face it, would you want your man doing music with his ex? I commend Erykah Badu who just did something Andre 3000… they were smart enough to capitalise on how great they both are. I would love to see D [D’Angelo] get to that place in his life [and thinks] who cares what ppl think and say. You need to do what you do because you have a son that’s facing college. All of that is a huge factor and you gotta work and always be able to keep working.
The reason I asked was to find out if there is any chance of a musical collaboration between the two of you because that would be absolutely incredible.
The key to making that happen – I think the fans have to get on the internet and almost have to have a poll that D’Angelo and Angie Stone should hook back up for music… I think it’s going to bow down to the fans asking and requesting and I think that’s a way he will have an excuse… he wouldn’t have to explain to his kids or whoever his significant other is why it should be done. If you have a really strong relationship, a solid foundation, you wouldn’t be intimidated by little Angie Stone.
You never know Angie, maybe it will happen one day
Maybe but guess what, I’m ok with or without it. It would be great but I’m still here and I’m still delivering good music and so is he.
What is in store for you in 2016, I heard something about a movie?
Yes they’re getting ready to do the DeBarge story and I was asked to play Colette Gordy who was the A&R Director of Motown so I am excited about that, I just got the script. [Filming] will probably start at the top of the year some time. Also I was contacted by Sam Foster who is a huge director about doing my bio pic and I’m really excited about that.
At the end of the interview, Angie gave a final piece of advice to the listeners
Don’t read too much into the dating game, it’s really overrated. It doesn’t mean anything unless they put a ring on it okay?
You can listen to the full interview below.