The song is called "Hold On" and it's previously unreleased -- up til now! You heard it first right here! GEAH!
What do you think of the record? Please leave the brother some feedback because he's definitely a SOHH Soulful supporter :). I have more from Novel from you as well. I'm finally posting up my interview with him. Check out my Q&A with Novel below.
Rebel: I know you sing and you rap and produce too, how much production did you do on your album The Audiobiography?
Novel: I did about 90% of the album producing.
Rebel: Which came first for you?
Novel: I started off writing and rapping first and then I always could sing but I didn't want to do it too much but when I turned 15 I started producing. About ten years ago I started writing and producing for other people. It didn't really pick up until about three years ago. I was signed to Rawkus at 18 or 19. I've been on a lot of label changes. Rawkus went under and sold to MCA, MCA went under and I got transferred to Geffen records from Geffen, Jimmy Iovine got hold of the album I got transferred from Interscope, so by that time about five or six years went passed.
Rebel: What'd you learn from that?
Novel: I try to keep integrity, but I learned about politics, the industry is so much politics it can kinda break your heart. When you get into it you're a fan but it can wear you out. Over the years, you figure out there are so many politics in the game it kinda takes away from the creativity but you have to get passed it. For me as an artist it can sometimes be difficult, as a producer it's how I live. As an artist I'll budge sometimes, but not too much, as long as I stay true to my art form; as a producer you're not doing records for yourself, you're doing them for other people and you have to be able to work with them. That's how I managed to survive in music this long because I was writing for other artists, Alicia Keys, India.Arie, Leona Lewis, Kelis and that kept me surviving so I wouldn't have to stress so much about my record. It's not about making money, not for my album. I do my album because I love the music, if it doesn't sell anything I can always write for other people.
Rebel: You said you didn't like singing when you were younger, why do you think that was?
Novel: I was young and dumb and trying to be rebellious because my mother and everyone in my family sung.
Rebel: Being from a musical family (father is Mickey Stevenson, Motown's original VP of A&R) were they encouraging you to do the music thing or were you discouraged from seeing what they went through?
Novel: It makes you want to do it with my family, but they're really tough. My mom and dad separated when I was really young and when I got to know him I was a teenager. He ended up managing me, but he was tough, he wasn't the type of guy that - he pretty much built Motown, him and Berry Gordy. My dad was so hardcore, I had to send him a demo. In my family if you're gonna do it you have to go with it hard, all the way, or don't do it at all. It's wack sometimes because my mom and I moved around a lot, we were homeless and went to shelters, my grandfather is in the music industry also, he's Solomon Burke, you would think that sometimes they would help out, but we didn't have it like that. So sometimes when I see kids making albums just because their parents did it or whatever I don't totally agree with it. Unless you have the talent to do it and you put in the hard work I believe some parents make sure their kids work for it.
Rebel: How is your relationship with your father now?
Novel: We're best friends. We separated because I wanted him to be more my father and not my business partner. My dad, when I came to Atlanta I was pretty much homeless and had to start from the ground up. I think he respects it a lot more, he still helps me out with advice but other than that we are just father and son it made us a lot closer.
Stream Novel's EP I AM... Future Black President below, courtesy of imeem:
Rebel: Tell me more about the album
Novel: It's coming out June 30th. There's one track Dallas (Austin) produced, I have one from No ID but it might be a bonus record too. Toomp did a record and I worked with Robin Thicke, me, him and a producer Pro Jay, the rest is produced by me and I have a co-producer Tony Reyes that I worked with.
Rebel: What's the feel of the album, is there anything you can compare it to?
Novel: I can't compare it to anything it's a mix of an album. I listen to so many things, the album is a lovechild of a bunch of people I was influenced by - Lauryn Hill, Prince, Nas, Donnie Hathaway, Radiohead, Imogen Heap, Coldplay, a plethora of lots of different things. I love music, I love listening to a lot of different things.
Rebel:What are your goals for your career in 2009?
Novel: I want the album to do well. I want it to be a respected album. Like when Illmatic came out, it only sold like 200,000 copies but you knew the potential that this was going to be one of the best MC's in the game.
The other thing is just to be a great producer next year, I want a bunch of hits on the charts.
Rebel: Do you have problems with people trying to stick you in one genre or another?
That was my biggest problem being on other labels. The reason that Lauryn Hill is one of my favorites is that she has made it easier for artists like me for the labels to accept. When I first started they told me you have to be one or the other, you have to rap or you have to sing. It's not gonna work, especially as a male artist. And don't let it be conscious music - but Lauryn Hill did it in a very classy way. The way she did it made it acceptable for people in the industry to find it viable and that's why I have so much respect for her, she paved the way for me.
Watch Novel discuss his EP below:
Rebel: How has Prince influenced you?
Novel: He's like a musical genius. There's a lot of alternative artists, but I haven't seen a lot of hip hop artists show their musical side. As a producer if the mpc is your instrument or your guitar I haven't seen a lot of people pick it up and perform it, that's something I'm trying to add to my performances. I went to a private show where Prince went and played almost every instrument on stage and didn't sing one time. He got up played the piano, got up played the guitar, he'd chill with the audience, drink a glass of wine and get back onstage, it was insane. Imogen Heap has this thing where she'll was recording a song live in front of the audience, and Jon Brion does the same thing where he'll create a song onstage. Cats do it with beat battles, but what if someone added that to their performance. That's something I'm trying to add.
Rebel: What instruments do you play?
Novel: Anything you put in front of me. I can play a little guitar, the piano, my MPC. I did a remake of "Sister" from The Color Purple so I learned the harmonica so I can whip it out Stevie Wonder style. People want to see a real musician, I'm not the best in the world but I'm learning and trying. That's what I do when I'm home or in the studio, you have more time in your own environment to perfect it but I'd like to do it onstage too.
The Audiobiography in stores June 30th! ?