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Malcolm Jamal Warner interview page 3

malcolm jamal warnerSmitty:  But that’s real.

MJW:  Yes, sir.

Smitty:  It is so real.

MJW:  Yes, sir.

Smitty:  And I can tell you that your audience is not only nodding to the groove but they’re also nodding in agreement with the spoken word.  (Laughs.)

MJW:  Oh yeah, they get it.

Smitty:  You know?  Because it’s those commonalities of life in music that is a serious attraction.

MJW:  Yeah.

Smitty:  So, yeah, that one and “Ascension,” oh, man.

MJW:  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  You know?  That’s heavy.

MJW:  Thank you.

Smitty:  And I love my boy, Gerald Albright, his contribution there.

MJW:  Yes, sir.

Smitty:  Gerald Albright can play with anybody anywhere.

MJW:  Oh, yeah.

Smitty:  And jump right in, you know?

MJW:  Yeah, sax or bass.

Smitty:  Yeah, exactly.  Thank you!  (Both laugh.)  Yes.

MJW:  That’s what I love about him. When he told me that he actually went on tour as Anita Baker’s bass player I was so blown away.  (Both laugh.)

Smitty:  Yeah, man, and it was a while before I knew that and I just kinda looked at him sideways like how did you hide that, you know?

MJW:  Exactly.

Smitty:  With me not knowing, I said, man, I did not know that and I was just so overwhelmed that I didn’t know that, you know?

MJW:  Right.

Smitty:  And he’s got some chops.

MJW:  Yeah, man, he does.

Smitty:  Yeah, absolutely.  And there’s another track that really struck me.  Oh, “What if Summer Never Comes?”

MJW:  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  Whoo, that’s heavy.

MJW:  That was a fun track and I actually produced that track for the other poet on that song, Poetri.

Smitty:  Yeah.

MJW:  Poetri is one of the def poetry jam…Broadway guys. He’s a Tony Award winning poet, so I’d actually produced that track for his record and it just came out so great, I was like “Dude, you gotta let me put this on my record.”

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

MJW:  He was like “Oh yeah.”  (Both laugh.)

Smitty:  Oh yeah, you gotta share when it comes out like that, you know?

MJW:  Yeah, man, yeah.

Smitty:  I love the way you designed the album cover and you featured some of your favorite instruments there.

MJW:  Yeah, yeah.  The photographer is Conrad Montgomery—I’ve known the guy for literally 20 years.  He’s a buddy of mine from New York who lives out here in L.A. and also the young lady who designed the CD cover is also another friend of mine who I’ve known for about 20 years.

Smitty:  Yeah, Kami Lerner.

MJW:  Yeah, and it’s funny because Kami started doing her artistry thing around the same time I started playing bass, so it’s just a really great full circle with this record in terms of my friends who have supported me and who I have supported over a lot of our lives.

Smitty:  Yeah, that is beautiful, man.  And I love this statement, and I’m just gonna quote you here:  “I do not fear the devil because his playground cannot match the level of my spiritual path.”

MJW:  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  Whoo, you know?

MJW:  Yeah.  (Laughs.) As cliché and as corny as it sounds, when artists talk about their work really being God’s work and they’re just being the instrument…

Smitty:  Mm-hmm.

MJW:  As cliché as it sounds, that’s so totally true so much of the time. And a lotta times I will look at a lyric and listen to a lyric and just kind of sit there and be like “I wrote that?”

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

MJW:  You know, like “Wow, that came through me?”

Smitty:  Yeah.

MJW:  And that’s really a great feeling because a lotta times—and I heard Bill Withers say this—a lotta times you may hear things, you may hear a song, you may hear a lyric that someone’s written and you say “Damn, I wish I wrote that.”

Smitty:  (Laughs.)  How many times?

MJW:  You know?  And I think what’s so pleasing to me is that there are times here and there where I may hear a line and my first reaction is that like “Wow, I wish I wrote that.  Oh, wait, I did write that.  That’s hot!”  (Both laugh.)  And it’s that moment of pride.  It’s not conceit, it’s not ego, it’s like “Wow, I can produce the same kind of work that produces that same feeling of hearing somebody else’s stuff that really inspires me.”

Smitty:  Yeah.

MJW:  That makes it.

Smitty:  Yeah, and that’s a very humble way of looking at it.  I mean, a humble feeling.  It’s quite the opposite of the radical pride, you might say.

MJW:  Yeah, yeah, totally.

Smitty:  Yeah, man.  Well, Malcolm, I tell ya, man, I am just blown away and love this record.  I highly recommend this, man.

MJW:  Great, thank you, Smitty.

Smitty:  Yeah, those fascinating lyrics that blow you away, it’s double when it comes our way, you know?  And it’s a beautiful thing, man, and I congratulate you and I would say keep doing your thing, keep your flava strong, brotha, because you’re doing some beautiful work.

MJW:  (Laughs.)  Thank you.  I appreciate that, Smitty, and I really appreciate that on such an entirely different level in that this project has really been, you know, for me it’s been a labor of love.  I don’t have a record label behind me, I don’t have a touring budget behind me.

Smitty:  Yeah.

MJW:  Every cent that went into this record came out of my pocket and out of blood, sweat and tears.  I mean, it’s like this record is really—it’s me.

Smitty:  Yeah, in the true sense.

MJW:  So to be able to put out work like that that is so touching to me and for other people to receive it and get it, I mean, it makes me very proud but also makes me very grateful that I actually have….I’ve got something worthwhile to offer to the music world.


 
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