Airtight's Revenge Airtight's Revenge

Airtight's Revenge: Bilal on J. Dilla's Influence, Independent Women And The Best Kind of Sex

It’s been a decade since Philly crooner Bilal first entered the music scene with his debut album ‘1st Born Second’. After hitting a snag with his sophomore attempt ‘Love for Sale, which leaked prematurely, he ended up parting ways with his recording home at Interscope Records. But the Grammy winning singer-songwriter finally released his follow-up album ‘Airtight’s Revenge,’ which was received with unanimous positive reviews.

From the start, Bilal’s music has shown his reluctance to stay within a box. He has flexed his creativity skills to the max to infuse sounds from different genres to create a musical masterpiece laced with stellar storytelling. Shifting from writing about real-life experiences, we got the Neosoul singer to dish to us his take on relationships and his type of woman. —Connie T.

 


 

VIBE: I’ve noticed that your latest album was more soulful & more focused on the world rather than personal experiences. Was this a conscious change?

Bilal: Nah. There’s been a progression of my life performances. I’ve been playing with a band for the last three years, and our sound has evolved into a thing that [incorporates] all of the different styles and genres of music… [We] just kind of show that in music [and] in a way that’s just the way I started to write the music. I went to school for jazz, I grew up in church, and my dad checked me into jazz course as a kid. Those three things are in my music. I studied classical music, and hip-hop is my love.

One of the main things that drives me is [what] I have learned in the past. One of the main people that have taught me are hip-hop producers. With my first album, I got to watch a lot of really dope producers do their thing. One of my main influences was J.Dilla.

J.Dilla pulled from all different genres, and he had a record collection like I’ve never seen before. In that record collection, it was everything from rock, jazz, electronic, everything. And he mixed it all into what he did – which was hip-hop. My music, I would say, is a hybrid of that – a hybrid of hip-hop. I’m not rapping, but I’m mixing a lot of concepts just like a hip-hop producer would think.

Being a singer and songwriter, has anyone ever figured out you were writing about them? Has it ever gotten you in trouble?

Yeah! I write from my experiences, but I also write from other people’s experiences. I usually never write stuff verbatim. I try to just take certain things and stretch the truth a little. I’ve gotten in trouble for that over the years. [Laughs]

Shifting gears slightly, I recall an article where you were giving some advice, where you said that men don’t want to spend hours talking about their feelings. Well, in your case, why are you so willing to put your feelings out as a songwriter, especially to people you don’t even know?

I don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard to express matters of the heart. When I make music, it’s kind of like poetry and puzzles that I’m putting together. So it’s as if I’m looking at it from a different aspect.

Airtight's Revenge

Another thing I remember from your advice columns is that you constantly implicated that males are likely to cheat. Tyrese even said “it’s expected for men to cheat”. Do you think men are more prone to cheating? And in your opinion, do you think a woman should tolerate it if it’s only physical versus emotional?

I don’t know; that’s according to the persons and their relationship. I think that the way society is set up nowadays, yeah, men do cheat; even women cheat. I think the lines are very hard to see nowadays in relationships. Relationships are kind of taking on a different kind of meaning nowadays. It’s not as cut and dry as it was in my mother’s time.

A lot that has also changed is female independence, which has been promoted by female role models like Beyonce. Her comeback now is about to continue this female empowerment movement. How do you feel about having a self-made woman?

I think it’s sexy. I like a woman that knows what she wants and isn’t waiting for someone to get it for her. [Someone] that is aggressive with her ideas and her drive, that’s what I like. No one likes a needy person, or a person that just feeds off of your energy. It’s good to have someone whose energy you can feed off too.

Would it ever bother you if she was more successful than you?

Oh hell yeah! F*ck yeah! [Laughs] Nah, I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’ve always been the kind of person that doesn’t need much anyways. I don’t think someone having more than me would really affect me. I really don’t need much with how my lifestyle is anyways

A lot of women are gaining success and money from these reality shows like Basketball wives, Hip Hop Wives, Mob Wives, where they use their past (or current) relationships to make a name for themselves and be “independent”. How do you feel about this?

Man, I don’t know. I don’t really dig that too much. But I guess they can say they are somewhat.  I mean, reality TV is big money now.

How would you react to one of your exes being on one?

My kind of person wouldn’t even want to be on a reality TV show. But if that were to happen, I don’t know. It’d just be comedy. [Laughs]

Would we find out some good secrets about you?

Aw yeah. [Laughs] You might. I don’t know what a person would take from their experience of being with me and putting it on TV. I don’t know what they’d share.[Laughs]

Now you’ve made some sexy music before… What is your definition of the best kind of sex?

Hmm. That’s easy. Best kind of sex is if you both climax at the same time! That’s the best kind of sex.

What kinda music would you put on to set the mood?

I don’t really even do that anymore. I like natural sounds.

Are you currently working on more music?

Yeah, I’m always writing music. Always.

When can we expect more music soon?

I don’t know; whenever I’m finished. I don’t think it’s going to take that long for me to do a record. It usually only takes me two to three years to make a record. It’s been so long for me to come out with Airtight’s Revenge because I was going through a lot of behind the scenes shit. As far as creativity and making the music, it doesn’t really take that long.

 

From the Web

More on Vibe

Video Screenshot

'Boomerang' Episode 3 Recap: Stand In Your Power

As the aptly-named episode of BET’s Boomerang kicks off, Bryson is in a deep sleep when his sexual fantasy of Simone riding him like an Amtrak is abruptly cut short after she pulls out a strap-on (um, y’all are grown). Let’s just say, she’s not a football player but she rams. Despite his obvious initial thought, this isn’t a conflict of sexual identity. It’s that feeling of loss of power whenever he’s around the two most important women in his life: Simone and his mother Jacqueline who (FUN FACT) was played by the Queen, Robin Givens in the series’ 1992 film inspiration. First of her name. Mother of no BS. Protector of her pockets. Goddess of You Got the Wrong One. We stan.

While diving deeper into his familial issues, we realize that Jacqueline wasn’t just a ball-buster to Marcus back in the day. A therapy breakthrough reveals that mommy dearest isn’t too affectionate to young Bryson either.  Although she did pull her strings to land Bryson a solid role at the Graham agency, she didn’t make family a priority and that kind of thing sticks with you, ya know? Don’t feel too bad for Bryson just yet because at this point, he will no longer be a “yes, man,” no matter how bomb Simone always looks in her bob.

Just as Bryson decides to boss up, he unexpectedly runs into Simone back at the office who is helping herself to some supplies for her "home office." In a sudden “I can make moves, too” moment, Bryson shares with Simone that her idea (that he’s been persistently pitching)  has finally been greenlit and naturally, sis is annoyed. Marketing an avant-garde black film, such as the project in the episode, “Woke,” has always been a passion of hers.

Within two seconds into listening to his “plan of strategy” to market the movie, it’s obvious that Bryson can’t possibly be Big Bad Bry for too long without asking for Simone’s help. And Simone knows that. At this point, he’s still strong enough to not ask Simone for it but the Hustle Hungry protege takes it upon herself to force it anyway. It’s simple to her. Bryson needs black talent to promote the film and Simone has just the client- Tia. Granted, homegirl can’t sing a note to save her life, but Simone has some tricks and this is way too big of an opportunity to pass up.

Once again at the board meeting, a clearly annoyed Victoria is still over Bryson for previously messing up by being a sucker for love, but she hasn’t lost faith just yet. He still has a shot to prove himself. At an afternoon meeting at their swanky loft, the twin directors of “Woke” try to explain the direction they want for their movie. Although poor Bryson is lost (mainly because their responses barely answer his questions) he hasn’t reached a place of uncertainty to where he feels as if he has to agree with all of Simone’s suggestions. He’s holding it down as Boss Man Bry and he proves that when he reaches the studio. Simone has Tia record two different versions of the track, confident that Bryson would like hers better.

After listening to both, unbeknownst of who is responsible for which, Bryson chooses Tia’s track. He almost even backtracks when he finds out that wasn’t Simone’s vision, but he decides to man up instead and stand his ground, instead.  Yes, he said what he said. Operation Stand in Your Power is in full effect. Simone’s grip on Bryson’s heart slowly slipping. Maybe now she’ll retire from the Rams. *wink, wink*

Continue Reading

Red Bull Music's 'Inspire The Night' Series Introduces Chinese Female DJ Collective

Not only is female empowerment being highlighted across industries in the United States. Through their docu-series Inspire The Night, Red Bull Music is highlighting the NÜSHÙ Workshop, a female music collective hailing from Shanghai. The collective was founded by Lhaga Koondhor, Daliah Spiegel, and Amber Axilla.

In episode three of the series, Shanghai-based NÜSHÙ artist Lin Jirui is highlighted. Jirui, a DJ who mixes techno, gabber and grime in her sets, discusses the importance of music in her life, especially growing up in a strict household where she was often told by her mother "don't be too different."

NÜSHÙ was named for the centuries-old Chinese script used exclusively by women for communicative purposes, and focuses on inclusion through connection, education and championing "femme, femme-identifying, queer, LGBTQ+, and non-binary individuals." The collective provides its members with the tools needed to succeed in their careers and in life.

“[NÜSHÙ Workshop] is not about becoming the next great DJ, it’s a safe place to discover something. There is so much love and passion…,” says co-founder Koondhor in the episode. “It’s a space where friendship is growing.”

Check out the full episode above.

View this post on Instagram

Shot by our dear friend @mathildeagius in Shanghai during our @redbullmusic Inspire the Night shoot. Watch the full episode through the link in our bio!

A post shared by NÜSHÙ女术 WORKSHOP (@nvshushanghai) on Feb 18, 2019 at 6:21pm PST

Continue Reading
va DuVernay speaks onstage during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 10th annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Ava DuVernay And Theaster Gates To Lead Diversity Council For Prada

Major luxury brands like Prada and Gucci have been under fire since releasing luxury items with racial undertones. Sparking controversy that is not easily repaired with public apologies, Prada has announced a Diversity and Inclusion Council lead by director Ava DuVernay and social practice installation artist Theaster Gates.

Gates and DuVernay, who have used their art in social justice missions will join " Prada’s initiative to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.” The pair will also help the brand provide the opportunity for designers of color to obtain internships and apprenticeships that are inclusive of diverse communities.

In a statement to WWD, Miuccia Prada, Prada’s Chief Executive Officer, and Lead Creative Director stated explained the brand's willingness to learn from their own mistakes while actively including creative of color in the company.

“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company, Prada said. "In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with long-time collaborators, Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates, on this important initiative. We look forward to working with the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to help us grow not only as a company but also as individuals.”

The Diversity Council will work alongside the company's Social Responsibility department to recommend strategic approaches within the next few months.

 

Continue Reading

Top Stories