Vixen Chat: Lalah Hathaway On 'To Pimp A Butterfly' And The Neo-Soul Renaissance
Noted for her unique and unmatched voice, Lalah Hathaway is one of the most influential musicians of a generation.
Known for her filling resonance and unique timbre, Hathaway's vocal and musical abilities have won her multiple Grammy's and numerous honors. While her abilities should come as no surprise, given that she’s the daughter of music icon Donny Hathaway, Lalah is blazing her own trail and leaving her on mark on music.
Recently, Lalah lent her musical and vocal talents to Kendrick Lamar’s latest album “To Pimp A Butterfly”, having written, sung backup, and also arranged several of the songs on the project.
Vixen spoke with Lalah about her involvement with the new album, in addition to her thoughts on the direction of soul music, and what’s next from her musically.
VIBE Vixen: How did you get involved with "To Pimp A Butterfly?"
Lala Hathaway: Some of the musicians that worked with Kendrick on the album are also close collaborators of mine. When I got wind of it, it sounded like something different that I wanted to be involved with. I value Kendrick as an artist and wanted to help out.
You were a vocalist and writer on the project, in what other areas did you help out?
Yeah, I helped write a few tracks. Actually "Mama" used a sample of song I wrote that my father, Donny Hathaway, gave to me in a dream. That was really special and it meant a lot to me that they used it.
There's no doubt that Kendrick's album is well on its way to becoming a classic. How does this moment feel for you?
The album is such a statement piece about true artistry. I think there were so many people involved in making the project work that ultimately everyone had a hand in everything. Bilal and Rober Glasper also helped a lot, and I’ve worked with those two before, so some really great things happened musically on the album.
Do you think this a time in music where real artistry and musicianship is starting to be valued again?
I think we’re in a time where real music is starting to be appreciated once again, and it’s making it’s way back to the forefront of mainstream. We, as a people, love things that are genuine- I don’t think that will ever go away. You can’t undermine something that is great, and genuine music that comes from the heart and soul is great.
As for you, do you have any projects lined up?
I do. I have an upcoming record that is a live record; its a live show from start to finish. It’s got a whole different vibe going on. I think people will really be able to catch the musical conversation between the audience and the musician that just creates a great energy. I hope people get a lot out of it. I want it to be extraordinary. I want them to hear something special because it's truly a complete piece of art. I hope people can dig it.
Does your father still influence your sound and work?
He definitely does. Its an incredible thing to be the child of a legend. As his child I see him one way, but as a musician I am a fan. I have plans to work a lot more with his music and just see where it goes. Though I have a live show coming up on April 21st in L.A. at The Troubadour, which is where he recorded his album Donny Hathaway Live, so I’m super excited about that.
What’s your take on women in entertainment as of right now?
Entertainment is still a male dominated field, though the landscape is changing. Thursday nights [aka Shonda Rhimes] alone let you know the world is changing. Our pop culture icons are now women, and I think that’s such an incredible thing.