Singer, songwriter and producer Raphael Saadiq is the kind of musical polymath who doesn't necessarily need to go seeking interesting projects -- they tend to find him.
"My really good friend and brother is [A Tribe Called Quest's] Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and I'm good friends with Adrian Younge too," Saadiq says of the show's two composers.
He remembers a turning point in the early days of Tony! "And the guy said, 'Yeah, this is your first record. And that always stuck with me." Accordingly, Saadiq's next single has always been good. With the exception of some iffy fashion choices in the '80s, he got here without compromising his dignity, without scandals or bad music.
Let's see what your next single sounds like,'" Saadiq says, shaking his head. He's built a career on solid, enduring tunes and killer live shows.
(He's been wearing suits since he was seven years old and singing in church, he says.) Poised in a leather armchair, Saadiq insists that music has always been "a gentleman's game" for him. "It's never really been about the 'I'm too sexy for my shirt' thing." His charming, guarded demeanor supports this notion, as does his description of his first big break, touring as part of Sheila E.'s ensemble with Prince: "I was too young for it to blow my mind; I was more stuck on being professional out there," he says. And in 2002, Saadiq cowrote D'Angelo's Grammy-winning "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," a song (and video) so sexy that its merits are still debated in Ph. "Some people use no lights for sex, some people use light, you know? "Once they get the product in their household, they can do whatever they want with it.
"They had a lot of fun, but it doesn't seem like anybody was too wild." So far, so businesslike, but Saadiq was basically touring the world with Mr. It's only up to me when I make it, then it's out of my hands." It's a wonderful gift, though, isn't it? "I mean, I've heard people say, 'We've made babies to your songs,'" he adds. A lot of people say they named their daughter Deja [from 'Ask of You'].
"We always go out to eat breakfast together in LA." Muhammad and Younge told him they were working on and said, "you should do a joint on the show." Saadiq wasn't looking for work at the time, but his friends eventually convinced him.