Every day is #ThrowbackThursday for Eric Bellinger. The Grammy Award-winning scribe behind Chris Brown and Usher’s hits is officially taking the solo route with his EP, Cuffing Season, which offers hints of nostalgia for the ’90s R&B lovers. The Compton native presents his new studio effort on 300 Entertainment, the label home he shares with Fetty Wap and Young Thug.
With contributions from Lil Boosie, Tank, TLC’s T-Boz and 2 Chainz, Bellinger’s 16-track offering is an Internet-friendly mix of late-night jams meant for the very season the EP is named after. He ramps up the sexy time with the Ayo-produced bedroom heater, “iPod on Shuffle.” Bellinger successfully implements the lyrical prowess of R&B vets like Jodeci, H-Town, 112, Janet Jackson, Maxwell, R. Kelly and Silk for his modern-day love notes.
“I think “iPod on Shuffle” is just a great overall vibe to represent what the [EP] is about,” Bellinger recently told VIBE. “All of these projects are the vibe and feeling I’m trying to bring back. Just the vibe of the ’90s and merging it with the 2015 generation. Everyone always mentions ’90s [R&B], so I would be a fool to avoid that.”
To further bring that old thing back, Bellinger employs several classic R&B samples for an old-school feel. He borrows Bravehearts’ “Oochie Wally” for “Focused On You,” where Atlanta trapper 2 Chainz makes an appearance. Bellinger also recruits T-Boz for a sultry spin on the 1994 TLC smash “Creep.” Here, he sings, “I would never creep on you.”
“Traditional R&B is a lot softer and a lot more passive,” Bellinger said of the mix between hip-hop-infused sounds and throwback slow jams. “My voice is already melodical, so I need to have a balance. Me choosing beats that are a lot more hip-hop and urban creates a dope blend.”
While transitioning from songwriter to singer has seen its share of wins and fails, Bellinger says the challenges are worthwhile and the most important lesson is staying true to self. “You have to do you,” he said, schooling up-and-comers. “When people try to do songs out of their lane, it shows. When you write songs, don’t just aimlessly write. Have a purpose when you go into that studio.”
As if speaking to himself, Bellinger also fingerwags any outside opinion. “Do you, and people will either have to accept you or they won’t.”—Diamond Hillyer