After more than four decades of gold and platinum success with his legendary group, The O’Jays, frontman Eddie Levert has finally released his debut solo album, titled Eddie Levert: I Still Have It. Featuring lead single, “Last Man Standing,” Levert’s 12-track opus sheds light on the 69-year-old’s personal hurdles, as well as his love and devotion for his wife, Raquel Capelton.
During a recent interview with The Huffington Post, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer discussed recording after the loss of his two sons, Gerald and Sean, his interest in collaborating with Kanye West and his thoughts on today’s R&B lyrics.
Below are some excerpts from that interview:
The album’s lead single, “Last Man Standing,” is an ode to your sons. What was the recording process for the song?
I’ve been working on this album for five years, and I started before Gerald and Sean passed away. And the first thought when you lose a child is that you blame yourself, and with blaming yourself, it takes you to a very dark place. It’s so dark in there that you think that you’re not going to get out of there. And saying that, I was able to come to grips with the fact that I had no power in this, this is just something that God had all of the power and I had no say-so. Once I came to grips with that, I started writing the song “The Last Man Standing,” because I had to remake myself, trying to eliminate some of the negatives and trying to come to a positive place where I can be happy with myself. So I came to a place with that song and I’m finally able to get past everything — not that I’m complete, because it’s a fight every day to stay on the strait and narrow.
What are your thoughts on the lyrics of today’s R&B artists, compared to some of your classic songs?
I think they’re taking the romance out of it. They leave nothing to the imagination. Everything is so vivid, there’s no feeling or emotion in it. We’re dealing with, “This is what it is. You’re a girl, you got what I like and I like it, and I’m going to bang it until your head swells.’ [Laughs] Before you could put on music and romance a girl, nowadays it’s too explicit. Every girl is not a freak, every girl doesn’t like it like that. Some girls like to be romanced, some girls like to have a bottle of wine and dance a little bit before you wear her out … How do you know if you want to marry this woman? But now you treated her like a freak and you were so direct about it, you may have lost the greatest girl in your life. Keeping it real sometimes can be a bit too vulgar.
As a seasoned artist, what led to you wanting to release you debut solo album now and not earlier in your career?
I love the O’Jays. It’s something that I created from the time that I was 16 till now — I’m 69 years old — so I really never thought of myself as a solo artist. I just had some things that I wanted to do and say. And with the way that the business has changed, it’s hard for seasoned artists to get deals now. So I said to myself that I think R&B should be raw, primitive, untamed, and without a lot of makeup on it. I just wanted to do rhythm and hope that they can feel the rawness and the way R&B was originally made.
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