Raphael SaadiqThere's no stopping Raphael Saadiq
By Naughty Mickie

Soul artist Raphael Saadiq has a lot going for him-- talent, looks, business sense and wit. He has been touring in support of his latest effort "Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray" on his own label, Pookie Entertainment.

The musical genius, who resides in Los Angeles, has played bass since age 6, toured with Prince and Sheila E. in 1984 and is in both Tony! Toni! Tone! and Lucy Pearl. In 2000, his song "Untitled" won a Grammy for D'Angelo and in 2003, Saadiq received five Grammy nominations for his release "Instant Village," making him the first artist nominated without a major label deal.

Saadiq kindly gave me some time after a long airplane flight, to talk about his past, present and future. He sounded a bit road-worn, but was ever the gentleman and didn't mind sharing his secrets.

I begin our conversation by asking him if his Grammy nominations have helped his career and how.

"Most definitely," Saadiq replies. "A lot of people looked my way and saw what was going on."

As with most of my interviews, I seek some enlightenment by asking Saadiq about his childhood.

"In my family, everybody, my uncles and my father, played instruments around the house and church. I would really migrate to people who would play instruments whether they would playing a straight guitar or playing blues or anything else," Saadiq offers. "By 10 I was performing. Some friends of mine were playing music also, about the same age as me. I went straight into music as my career."

Whoa, so did Saadiq have to suffer through day jobs?

"I worked at UPS, a regular job like that. I worked at Payless Shoe Stores in high school for a summer gig," Saadiq says. "I knew I wanted to be a musician, I didn't know at what level I wanted to do it at."

Now he's a musician at many levels, but he still finds time for fun.

"I like to play basketball, I like to train at boxing. I like to go to nice restaurants, eat a lot of food, hang out," Saadiq tells me.

Back on track, I ask him how he writes.

"I move into a quiet space and play with ideas. It's almost like you're directing a movie. Play with movies, play with direction, play with vision and make the music fit where you're going, try and make people see your vision without it being a video," Saadiq explains.

I comment that he seems to be one of those hyper-creative people and Saadiq quickly confirms my notion: "I think I'm pretty much creative all the time whether it's some creative way to get out of traffic in Los Angeles or whatever."

With a label and a songwriting and performing career, Saadiq has a good finger on the scene.

Raphael Saadiq"I think there's some good music out." Saadiq continues, "People say it's a bad time for music, but there's some out. People enjoy what they want to enjoy. I think there's a huge capitol for celebrating soul music, not neo soul, I don't like the term neo soul. I can't say that there's not a lot of music out there, there's a lot more commercial music without a lot of depth. I don't want to dis somebody who's selling a lot of records because it's not that at all. There's stuff all there, it's just that the audience doesn't hear anything that they really like."

He also has an opinion about the Internet, "It can be very helpful in a lot of ways, a lot of facets. People can get their music heard. It's so controlled by one or two conglomerates, that gives people a way to hear what they really want to hear."

Saadiq is considering turning "Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray" into a musical or film, but there's other things to do first. He will be putting out another "Tonys" record and is working with some new acts for his label, Pookie Records.

But why should someone so busy form his own label?

"I felt it was time," Saadiq tells me. "I had always wanted to do it, start my own label, and at this point in my career, I felt it would be better to promote myself and try to market myself."

How does he expect Pookie can fare against the big labels?

"I can't really compete with them, but it's not really my focus, my focus is to go to the people and play music and go to the street and play music and be in their faces. That's the way I'll get paid," Saadiq, a true biz guru, states. He chuckles and adds, "Watch out for Pookie Records' new releases next year. Keep your eyes open and look for it."

Find out more about Raphael Saadiq and his label at www.pookieentertainment.com

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