Evolution helps Thicke survive as R & B’s fittest

By Emale Gray

“Chicken noodle soup! Chicken noodle soup! Chicken noodle soup with a soda on the side!” These are the type of mind-numbing lyrics in rotation on some of the nation’s top radio stations, and the monotonous rhythms (a.k.a. “hot beats”) they are coupled with are questionable as well.

With these White Castle burgers being played constantly, it’s obviously hard for artists with actual talent to gain airplay. Artists either have to give their music a drastic makeover to attract attention or sell out to the (idiotic) demands of popular culture just to keep their recording contracts. “These record companies want a hit record before they release an album,” states Robin Thicke in a recent phone interview. He, like many artists, is out to prove that one can be successful without sacrificing one’s musical integrity.

Do you remember Alan Thicke, the father on the late ’80s TV show Growing Pains? Well, Robin Thicke is his son. Though Alan may be known more for his role as Jason Seaver, he was a music legend as well. He composed theme songs for game shows (Wheel of Fortune, The Wizard of Odds), daytime TV (Facts of Life, Diff’rent Strokes), and other media outlets. His son Robin followed suit, penning songs for Christina Aguilera, Usher, Mya, Brandy, and many others, laying the groundwork for a successful career in music.

In early 2000, Robin combined Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with his soulful pipes and released “When I Get You Alone.” That single and the album containing it never received the Billboard credit they deserved because of a multitude of internal issues. However, MTV and BET still recognized his talents, showing his video late nights and even during their new artist promotional pieces. Nearly half a decade later, Robin is back with the proper tools to pry his way into the world of mainstream music, dilute the shallow airwaves, and bring “sexyback” better than Justin Timberlake ever could.

“[Record companies] want to know that they have a hit promotion and the only way to promote an album is to have a hit single,” Robin explains, and he did just that. Taking advantage of label-mate and owner Pharrell, he recorded the radio-friendly “Wanna Love U Girl.” Though the track never took off like it was supposed to, Busta Rhymes attempted to boost its promotion by remixing the song. “For me, at first I was very frustrated,” Robin begins, referring to the slow success of “Wanna Love U Girl.” “But [the delay] ended up being a blessing because [The Evolution of Robin Thicke now] has 10 songs on it that I made within the last six or seven months.” After pushing the release date of this album for almost a year, Robin is ready to show what musical evolution truly sounds like.

Collaborations were how Thicke started, and he’s not about to give up now, beginning his album with the vocals of Faith Evans. Thicke eventually makes his way into the song, almost whispering, “Got that lovin’ got that seed/ Got that suga’ got that sweet.” He lets his vocals simmer throughout the majority of the song, eventually bubbling over the rim. The Evolution of Robin Thicke exemplifies his signature falsetto and soulful voice in songs like “Can U Believe,” “Complicated,” and current single “Lost Without U.” Infectious rapper Lil’ Wayne lends his rhymes to the party-starter “All Night Long” and the bass-heavy hood anthem “Shooter.” The Latin “Everything I Can’t Have” and nasty, naughty “Teach U A Lesson” not only show musical evolution on Robin’s part, but also are examples of musical evolution in general.

With the release of his album and his singles in rotation on all of the major music stations, Robin is finally beginning to taste success. He is currently touring with fellow musical genius John Legend and enjoying the success of wife and Halle Berry’s worst nightmare Paula Patton, who stars alongside Denzel Washington in her upcoming film Déjà Vu. As Robin says, “I’m doing what I love to do with people I love to do it with.” Look out for Robin Thicke performing Thursday, November 9 at the Riviera Theatre with John Legend.