Robin Thicke: The Magic of Sex and Music

Last summer Robin Thicke reached, what seemed, the top of a mountain. His album had gone platinum, “Lost Without U” was a certified hit, and he was performing at the 2007 BET Awards. There he appeared less like a crossover sensation – due only to race – and more like an incessant music maker set […]

Last summer Robin Thicke reached, what seemed, the top of a mountain. His album had gone platinum, “Lost Without U” was a certified hit, and he was performing at the 2007 BET Awards. There he appeared less like a crossover sensation – due only to race – and more like an incessant music maker set on proving music was universal, as he swayed his hips back and forth to “Lost Without U” the “latin-bolero” version at an award show honoring Black music. Even his career before he bathed in spotlights foreshadowed this, writing for Pink, Mya, Christina Aguilera, and Marc Anthony.It seemed Robin came out of nowhere sneaking into individual musical landscapes through Lil’ Wayne features and Pharrell co-signs. What made him the listener’s choice for breakthrough artist of 2006 was his ability to appeal to the lovers of pure R&B – untainted by voice coders and glitz.Robin sits in his living room before a European promo tour and speaks with about choices he’s made pertaining to his new project titled Something Else, the 2008 race for the White House, and his not so surprising choice of activities for a perfect day Alternatives: Were you able to rest at all after last year’s whirlwind? Robin Thicke: Umm, I was actually. I took a couple months to spend time with my family and my friends, and then I went right back to work and the music just poured out and now we’re ready to put it out there. AHHA: Where did you pull from to make this album? The prior album consisted of songs that dealt with being a newlywed.Robin Thicke: Well there are always so many places to pull from. Really I pull from how many people I saw out there that [have] given up on their dreams in some way and you just realize how beautiful we all are and how much greatness there is in all of us and how much people beat it out of us. But I just wanted to make an album that just brought people relentless positivism and joy. AHHA: When artists sell 1.5 million and they’ve been struggling before that, the part that comes right after that is that they start dabbling with all these different producers. You stuck with producer Pro J. Why is that?Robin Thicke: Because, I mean I never – the only song I’ve ever done with another producer was the Pharrell song “Wanna Love U Girl.” I just always felt that I had enough to express musically. We just like our music the way it is. AHHA: What was the main difference between recording this album and The Evolution of Robin Thicke? It must have been different.Robin Thicke: Yeah, no it’s very different than the last album, and yet it keeps the soul of the last album; the heart you know. I think it’s more about – I wanted to bring the celebration ‘cause I was performing every night and I had to entertain people. I think this time the album is more entertaining. I shouldn’t say more entertaining, it just kind of is alive, so I don’t know how to explain it. I guess you have to hear it. AHHA: Artists write these songs in the darkest moments and “Can U Believe” is as desperate as someone can get at a time when they’re really low. What was it like singing that song every night?Robin Thicke: I was broke, I was alone, my wife was miles away and the album was being pushed back. I was fighting with family members, I was hitting rock bottom you know, and the song – I was all by myself, and I sat at my piano and wrote it one morning. AHHA: Do you relive that moment when you perform that song, night after night? Robin Thicke: Umm, sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t want to go that far because you don’t want to lose [it]. There is a balance that any performer or artist where you want to fall into it, but you can’t let it take over you either. AHHA: What was the Beyonce tour like? It’s got to be interesting, to be part of that machine. What was the crowd like?Robin Thicke: The crowds are great. We had a great time. Beyonce is the ultimate performer and me, and my band we were living the good life; just enjoying the opportunity to play our music for that many people every night. AHHA: Did performing for an audience that was there to watch an ultimate performer like Beyonce influence you to make a more up-tempo album?Robin Thicke: Yeah you might be right that I wanted to make sure that I was able to represent the energy that I have in myself. You know because it’s not a thing if it wasn’t real I could do it, but because I am a high-energy guy too, it was very easy for me to make high-energy music too. AHHA: Your last album – you married Paula [Patton] and it carried half personal and then the other half was really sexual. You know it was just so romantic, and I always wonder like percentage wise, what’s the importance of sex, what’s the percentage of that?Robin Thicke: It’s pretty much half and half, most of the inspirational songs we [had] written during the period when we had already been married for a year. The album and my financial state and the record company and everything was getting more and more difficult, and my wife was away because she was filming, even though that was a wonderful success for her and me as a team. It was very difficult to be away from her when I was struggling so much. AHHA: But it carried this longing…Robin Thicke: Yeah well “Lost Without U” was written a year and a half before we got married or maybe two years before we got married. AHHA: In terms of a relationship, in percentage, how important is sex?Robin Thicke: 99%…Really there are so many things that go into a relationship, you can’t make a pie out of it. What I will say is that it makes it a lot easier to make up when you continue to be sexually attracted. AHHA: The last album was what propelled you to stardom. What’s the main intent, the main mission for Something Else?Robin Thicke: Uh just really to make everybody’s day brighter and better to help them believe in themselves and people around them and vote for Barack Obama…AHHA: What’s your take on the state of things, politically and financially?Robin Thicke: I think it’s all a mess because if you know the president and his team, I mean the whole things a mess. Katrina still, nobody has a home, nobody has a school, nothing’s been done, so the whole things is completely wrong. Gas is going to be seven dollars by the end of the year, so we need somebody like Barack Obama who actually cares about the rest of the people. AHHA: What was the moment where you realized that this was the guy that’s going to make it happen?Robin Thicke: I had a feeling about it when I read an article in a magazine about a year and a half ago before he even said he was going to run. I read this article and everything he was saying and the way he was saying it, so real and honest. Nobody’s perfect, but it’s nice to know that somebody can be honest to you after all these lies we faced for eight years. AHHA: This is probably a redundant question, but did you ever go through some sort of discrimination being a white guy who was in soul music?Robin Thicke: I still face it all the time, it’s still always White this Black that, Black not this, White not that and your wife this and who gives a f**k? It doesn’t make my food taste any better.AHHA: You’re kicking back, it’s a day you have nothing to do, you’re not at the recording studio, it’s a day you wake up and you have it completely open, what do you do? Robin Thicke: Just a completely open day? Who knows, I guess you, smoke a jay, watch some movies, put on some steaks on the BBQ, have a beer and enjoy your day and watch the sunset. AHHA: Right now musically, what CD can you pop in and say, “Wow, this is inspiring”?Robin Thicke: Uh, Lil Wayne is the only one. He’s the only one pushing the envelope, taking chances, putting the people first, ahead of his pocket. AHHA: What was it like collaborating with him?Robin Thicke: It’s sort of like two boxers in a ring, two lions out in the jungle. You just have to be ready, and he’s going to roar. AHHA: You produced the track that you collaborated with him on?Robin Thicke: Yeah I had the song done when he showed up, ‘cause I wrote the song right after Katrina, and he came to the studio a month after Katrina. I think he loved the song and he wanted to do it, but I don’t think he was ready yet because it was so personal to him. So he said, “I’m going to put that on my next album.” Two years later he called me up and was like, “Yo can I get that track? I want to put my part on it.” AHHA: How was it producing a rapper? One of the biggest rappers of the moment.Robin Thicke: Oh, you don’t produce Lil Wayne. You just – maybe if you have an idea – like you should double that or you should say that twice maybe, or something like that, you know what I mean? But really, you don’t get into Lil Wayne’s way. And the great thing about Lil Wayne and the reason he is so good [is] he has great taste, like he doesn’t step on my parts when they’re hot. He just knows. He has great taste. AHHA: So it’s one year from now, let’s just take it to kind of a wishful place. Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing?Robin Thicke: I want to be performing “Tie My Hands” with Lil Wayne on the Oscars. ‘Cause he wrote it for his movie that he’s got coming out this year, and I want to perform it on the Oscars. You got to dream big.Check out Robin Thicke’s new video for “Magic”