One artist who you were compared to early on is Teddy Pendergrass. In fact, there was some talk that you were jacking his style. Was such talk deserving?
I know Teddy made one comment about how I was trying to take his spot. But it wasn’t really him, it was more the radio and media people. People were like, “You remind me of Teddy,” and when Teddy hears that a million times he’s sitting in a wheelchair thinking, “Oh, this guy thinks he can be me???” But I always respected Teddy. We got to be good friends before he passed away. I never tried to pattern myself after him.
Do you think it comes down to your voice having a very old school, gruff quality?
I can see that. But I think what people don’t understand is there’s nothing new under the sun. Sam Cooke, Luther Vandross, and Marvin Gaye are all reflections of one another. Luther was big because he took those classic records and made them his. People will be listening to those records forever. With me, my grandfather sang with the Drifters, so that’s where I get that old school feel. It’s not a gimmick…it’s real. But there’s also my hip hop feel. I’m a street cat, so that shows in my music.
What’s the overall concept of your current album Another Round?
This album is all about celebration. I’ve been here for almost 12 years. I’m celebrating with my fans and giving them another round. I have one more album left. I’m undecided on what I want to do with the remainder of my career.
Are you planning on leaving music altogether?
Well, this is a tough business, man. I want to get into movies. Hopefully my fans will understand that. I want to sit down for a minute and just do the Hollywood thing.
During you career, you have had to deal with a few tabloid stories pertaining to everything from your sexual orientation—which is a question it seems all R&B singers have to deal with—to your March 28 arrest for marijuana possession. What have you learned about dealing with such talk?
You know what I learned, man? I learned that if you are not doing anything then people have nothing to talk about. When I was on the Wendy Williams show she started to go there with me. She took [my arrest] as a joking matter and it really wasn’t. But you have to be realistic. People take shots at you. I wasn’t mad. I understand how the business is.