Photo by Brandon I. Brooks for Sentinel
Sentinel Exclusive one-on-one interview with superstar R&B artist Ginuwine
Ginuwine is one of today’s top R&B’s stars and he is back with his highly anticipated sixth studio album, A Man’s Thoughts (Notifi/Asylum/Warner Bros. Records).
Reminding fans once again that he is still the “same ol’ G”, Ginuwine, doesn’t miss a beat as his latest single “Last Chance,” has blazed the radio airwaves over the last couple months.
I caught up with Ginuwine for an exclusive one on one interview that was held at the Sentinel headquarters. I started off by asking the R&B superstar how he felt about the success of his latest single “Last Chance”?
“With this song I knew what my strength was and my strength is ballads. So I had to secure my base. “Last Chance”, was a song that as soon as I did it and they gave it to me, I was like there it is because you know it when you hear it a lot times at least I know I do. It’s one of those songs that is a universal song for the fellas to play for the ladies. We’ve messed up many times in a relationship so I’ve always been there for the fellas on that aspect trying to put do records that will express you’re sorry and that this is your last opportunity”.
No stranger to opportunities, Ginuwine got his big break when he seized the opportunity to sing live for DeVante Swing who was the lead producer and group member of the famous 90’s R&B group Jodeci.
In the early 90’s Ginuwine was like any other hungry artist trying to make it. He was going wherever the top musical acts were performing and trying to meet them to pursue a record deal. At this time MC Hammer, Boyz II Men and Jodeci were on tour and as usual Ginuwine was on the scene trying to meet the top guns.
“I went back to their hotel and I was able to sneak in and DeVante Swing was playing the piano. I met DeVante and he told me to come over to the piano where he was. I started singing and you know the girls was loving it, screaming and all that stuff so he took me up to his manager. So I sung for his manager and the rest is history. That’s the short version (laughs)”.
Ginuwine first fathomed the thought of being a performer the night that he saw Michael Jackson light up the stage on the unforgettable Motown 25th Anniversary special, where Michael Jackson first unveiled the world famous “moon walk” dance. Ginuwine said, “that from that point on I knew that being a singing entertainer is what I wanted to do. It was either that or boxing and I don’t like to get hit (laughs). My father was a professional boxer so obviously I learned. But I just didn’t want to pursue that. I could dish it out but I couldn’t take it.”
Early on Ginuwine was mainly known for mimicking Michael Jackson routines and break-dancing with his crew but because break-dancing was fading out Ginuwine said that this is when he was like, we got to do something, break-dancing is going out. So Ginuwine and his crew just started singing and getting into talent shows. They won some and lost some but every time that they got into a talent show, a whole bunch of girls would come. They had a nice little following and that is when Ginuwine knew that he really loved performing. “I love the exception of everybody and the way they received us and I started chasing that.”
Chasing indeed because Genuine would not stop chasing his dreams until he made his dream a reality. Ginuwine shared that it actually wasn’t DeVante Swing that gave him the big break he was looking for but in fact it was Timabaland and Missy who came and rescued him from a bad situation.
I asked Ginuwine what exactly transpired during the infamous basement DeVante years and he shared, “It’s that greed that’s takes hold of you when you are trying to shelter someone and hold them back from prospering and you can’t do that. People got they own minds and the thing about it is if somebody can prosper and they are under you, you are going to make money anyway. So it don’t really matter who is bigger than whom and I think that is what had a lot to do with it. But at the end of the day I wouldn’t change it for the world. I learned a lot from those dudes. I learned some things to do and a lot of things not to do”.
“We was with them for five years. At one point your loyalty tells you have to go out and do your own thing and we saw he wasn’t going to do nothing. And we saw him (DeVante Swing) following in the direction of Death Row Records and what they was doing and he tried to bring all of that into it so it just didn’t work. Missy always had her writing skills so she was already in good with Mary J. Blige. She did Raven Simone’s first joint so she started getting a lot of gigs writing. And Tim (Timbaland), his beats started speaking for himself and that’s what really kind of messed it up because he came out with a new beat, new sound, new everything and DeVante was like, “nah I want this”. But, it didn’t matter it was too late. And then Tim left and I was the only person that stayed because I didn’t really have anything to go home to. Contrary to what people think it was bad at home for me. I’m from Washington D.C. and we were nowhere near middle class. I went up there and slept in a laundry room. At the end of the day, Timbaland and Missy was still saying “I got you come on up out that because he ain’t never going to do nothing”. I ended up doing it and as soon as I left I had a deal the next weekend from Sony, five-fifty ($), shout out to Paula Anthony. I still love her”.
Ginuwine would go on to drop the chart topping single “Pony” in 1996, which ended up reaching # 1 on the Billboard charts. His first album “Ginuwine…The Bachelor” would go on to reach double platinum status. I asked Ginuwine where he was when he first heard his song on the radio and he said, “I was on the highway at a light and I jumped out and started dancing causing havoc. First the people was blowing their horns but then they got out of their cars looking because we was stepping and doing all of that stuff. People was loving it.”
And from that day forward, it seems as though people have never stopped loving it because Ginuwine continues to be one of today’s most popular R&B stars.
Multiplatinum sales and five albums later Ginuwine continues to evolve and it’s evident on his latest album, “A Man’s Thoughts”. Ginuwine personal favorites from the new album change daily but for now he says he loves the joint with Missy and Timbaland called “Get Involved”. Another song he keeps in rotation is a joint called “Showoff” that is for uplifting women.
“No matter how you feel about yourself or what you think you look like, you are living you are breathing and you are here to show off. “Showoff whatever it is you have because life is short.
Ginuwine is currently still married to rapper Sole and feels that their relationship is an example for the industry because a lot of industry relationships go sour. They have two kids with one another and truly no one thought they would make it this far. “We ain’t perfect, we have our ups and downs, trust me but we sticking in there and we want to be an example to all those people that think it can’t happen and don’t believe it can last. We sticking it out”.
To close I asked Ginuwine how does he want people to perceive him and his performance? Ginuwine answered, “I want people to know that I take my stage shows seriously and always try to give more than the other artists. I just always try to leave you with something to remember”.