When he entered into the music scene in 2001 with his debut album, 1st Born Second, Bilal made a name for himself as the sexy and funky crooner allowing women to know they are appreciated and loved through songs like “Soul Sista” and “Love It.”
In 2006, Bilal’s second album Love for Sale was set to be released, but it was bootlegged and leaked online being deemed unmarketable by his record label at the time. At that point, Bilal could’ve given up on music—but he still pushed the project gaining a bigger fan base through touring. Leaving his label and the past behind, Bilal shows fans that he is now “Free” (single) and set to release a new album, Airtight’s Revenge, set to be released September 14th.
We were privileged and lucky enough to get the chance to speak with Bilal about his new album, his hair, love and relationships.
Bilal: Well, the inspiration behind the title is Airtight’s an old nickname of mine and Revenge is kind of really summing up why I’ve been out for so long and my whole situation that I’ve been going through with the album (Love for Sale) being bootlegged and things as such. I could have really went another way and not done any music anymore, you know. But a crazy thing happened, more buzz then ever came out of that album being bootlegged and it really inspired me to write music from my heart and really from the soul because I was really just supposed to be down and out and finished, but I kept on. Revenge is more love, more drive, more inspiration and everything–Airtights just a nickname.
Bella: And then with your album being leaked, how do you think it’s shaped your career path because you did still gain a fan base?
Bilal: That’s what I mean. It really made things more true and honest, you know. It really let me know that I could do music from a creative place and not really worry about selling records and stuff like that and stuff like that, which was a big issue when I was signed to Interscope. The problem was this music was too experimental, it’s too left of center, it’s not R&B, it’s something we don’t know how to market. But for me, I was like, this is dope. I’m meshing up a lot of different sounds and concepts and trying to create something that’s just my own, and they were like “Yeah! maybe do that on your fourth album.” (laughs) “Wait till your fourth album to show everyone your true colors.”
Bella: I heard the sampler for this album and it sounds really good, so what was the writing process like for this album?
Bilal: This album a lot of it came from writing the music on the piano and then developing a good melody and good lyrics and then creating a track around that.
Bilal: On my first album, I was dealing with a lot of tracks and I was writing. There was a lot of different things but I think now it’s even more of a mesh up of a lot of different sounds and genres, into one thing that I am creating almost how a painter would or cats that do all other things for their art like they draw from a lot of different concepts even when a chef is making food now and he says, “I used a little Chinese influence with some French cuisine that’s what I did, like a chef. I chop up a lot of different taste for your musical palette.
Bella: I’ve seen a lot of different artists talking about you as far as your project. Dwele, said that you are his favorite singer, and Phonte and ?uestlove spoke about you as well–how does it make you feel to have so many artists really appreciating your music–especially since people always feel people who do the same things as you are your competition?
Bilal: It feels good, it’s inspiring to know cats like what it is that I do. It makes you feel good.
Bella: Okay, so you have a new look with out your dreads, what made you cut them off?
Bilal: (laughs) you know, my hair was just hair I didn’t really grow my hair out for a Rastafarian reason or like a deep spiritual reason. I know a lot of women grow their locks after they grow out their perm. Or a lot of cats grow their hair when they start to understand a certain spiritual level of things, I didn’t do that with my hair I got it into locks in high school when I saw a cat with locks and I was like yeah I like those and then I started twisting my hair. I had always known that I was going to keep my hair for a certain point and then I was going to chop it off I’ve just changed. And I’m compulsive like that. So, I was watching Maury Povich one day and a commercial came on and I just chopped my hair off because it was itching and it was the summer time and locks itch in the summer time when they get long you know, they stink too. (laughs) In order to keep them when they get that long you have to really take care of them and I wasn’t.
Bella: So do you still watch Maury?
Bilal: I watch it sometimes I like debauchery and stupid shit sometimes, it’s funny.
Bella: I know you write a column on Madame Nior about love and relationships, so have you been in love before?
Bilal: I’ve been in love lots of times. I’ve been a hopeless romantic for years.
Bella: Well, some of your female fans wanted to know what’s your relationship status right now?
Bilal: Yea definitely I’m in love right now and there’s a person that I really care about. I’m at a good place with love.
Bella: That’s so sweet.
Bilal: I think. Love is something that we ruin by talking about it so much and trying to figure it out because it’s something that is a feeling you know.
Bella: True. One of the other authors on the site wanted to know about in a column how you said, “men don’t want to cheat, they just haven’t found that person to make them not cheat,” she wanted to know why you believe this is true?
Bilal: Most men don’t want to cheat, a lot of cats want to be in a cool place but certain things happen. But cats want to be in–a lot of cats just want to find that special person that’s dope that keeps their mind as well as their sexual needs in that place you know what I’m saying. But we live in a world where everybody’s trying to live that superstar lifestyle you know those types of things. But most cats especially at a certain age cats just want to be with somebody cool that they can chill with at the end of the day.
Bella: As far as going back to your album, are you going to be going on tour anytime soon?
Bilal: Yeah. I just came back from overseas doing a tour in Europe and I’m about to start something here in September in the states.
Bella: Okay, and the last question I had was in five years, where do you want to see yourself musically?
Bilal: In five years I’d like to be in my own studio I’d like to build a studio and be doing more music for myself and perhaps for other people you know. But I’m telling you, that whole relationship column I can’t speak for all men you know what I’m saying. I kind of just know what I know (laughs).