Silk ruled among R&B groups in the ’90’s with their church-based vocals transformed into the sexy soul embodied most by their hit, “Freak Me.” The Atlanta natives took a chance meeting with Keith Sweat and a built a brand that still excites connoisseurs of classic R&B. The quintet has managed the impossible by staying together and continuing to release the uncut soul that became known for in the beginning. At no point in their journey have they deviated from their roots to chase after pop success and risk alienating their core audience. The fans, in turn, have given them a loyalty that has allowed them to step away for a while and return with Quiet Storm, their first album in 10 years. “Love U 2 Like Me” is the first single reintroducing their sound which, they now refer to as being more about “foreplay instead of one play.” In the following interview with Kickmag, Gary “Big G” Glenn and Gary “Lil G” Jenkins talk about Quiet Storm, the responsibilities of maintaining the Silk unit and the lack of newer R&B groups.
“We’re promoting foreplay instead of one play, this album”
“I Love U 2 Like Me” was first talked about in 2014, what made you all decide to release the album now?
Big G: I think from the time it was talked about in 2014 until now we just didn’t feel like we had the album we wanted to put out. We had some other songs we recorded in between that time. We felt good about the single obviously, but we wanted to feel even better about the album.
Lil G: We wanted to make sure we had something else in line that we felt was stronger than the first single, “Love U 2 Like Me” as soon as we were finished promoting that song we’d have one right ready to go.
How does Quiet Storm stay true to your formula or move away from it? You said now the music is more about foreplay?
Lil G: We’re promoting foreplay instead of one play. We decided to get nostalgic in a sense because a lot of people were looking for our style of true R n B to come back into the fold with the harmonies and the songs that have meaning to them and they don’t get right to the jugular. A woman likes to be finessed and caressed. So we feel like every song on this album is finessing and caressing the woman to get to the top point of the evening or of the relationship. It’s like an instructional book almost.
It’s hard for any group to survive, how have you all managed to stay together and continue to work?
Big G: I think we’re good individually and I think we recognize that we have something great and special collectively. And I think we respect it enough to find a way in the midst of us growing as men to find a way to continue to build on this legacy. I think we have a lot of respect and we know how to respect each other as we live our lives. We have the utmost respect for Silk as an entity. As long as we can keep that mindset, we will continue to work together.
Why do you think R&B groups are so scarce now?
Lil G: The ones that came behind us, we kind of spearheaded that after Boyz II Men. Silk came into play 112, Jagged Edge and H-Town. Now all of those groups are still pretty much together. There just hasn’t been any newer groups or trios to come about.
Big G: It’s been a while since a new group has come on the scene. I think part of it is the influence because now hip-hop is driven by rappers and even the solo artists that come out it seems they are influenced by hip-hop. I think it’s going to take a creative type of group to hit and sustain and it may have to have a rap element involved and vocally there’s going to have to be a couple of guys who pay old school tribute but have a new school feel. I think right now it’s just hard to find that and then you have to add into today’s society in 2016 everything is individualized. You can sit in the car with five people and when everybody puts their headphones on and their phone, they’re in their individual thing. So finding people who can put down the individuality and unite to do something extra special it’s more challenging now.
Lil G: It takes a certain camaraderie to be able to do this thing as a five-man unit. Pretty much you have to be in a relationship with each other. In a normal relationship you have to understand each other, you have agree to disagree. You got five different personalities, but some kind of way we found a way to be able to pull it all together let everybody be who they are individually, step out onto the stage or step into the booth in the studio it’s time to work. It’s a different work ethic instead of just having to be responsible for yourself.
Who produced Quiet Storm?
Big G: We executive-produced it ourselves, there were a number of producers involved the most notable of those producers include Darrell “Delite” Allamby. He worked with us on two albums prior to this he’s known for putting out “Meeting In My Bedroom” and some of our other classic albums. And then, Wirlie Morris is new to us, but he’s not new to the Urban A/C scene. He’s responsible for some number one hits with Charlie Wilson and he’s worked with New Edition and Boyz II Men. He’s a got a long list of accomplished artists that he’s worked with including Keith Sweat. And he’s been at the top of the charts a number of times here recently. He was a catalyst for us going in the lab this time and going in the direction musically that we started off for this album.
You were obviously thinking about Prince when you recorded “Baby Maker”
Lil G: Yes, that’s one of our musical mentors.
Big G: It was a good opportunity to go into that vein, that’s one of the things I like about this album. I think there are a lot of songs that have a unique character so they stand alone. Together I think the Quiet Storm album works, but I just like the fact that a lot of individual songs are distinctive. Like you just talked about “Babymaker” and it’s a very distinctive song.
Do either of you have your own personal favorites from the album?
Lil G: It’s kind of hard for me to say right now which one is actually my favorite. It’s quite a few of them that connect with me, for instance, “She’s The One,” “Quiet Storm,” and “Glad You Are Mine.” I like them all evenly just because I’m dealing with all the songs they all have such a different character to them.
Big G: My favorite song on the album is “I Love You.” It’s a song that Delite did and I think it encompasses whenever I listen to the albums I try to find a song that embodies all the elements that make Silk. I like the lyrical content the first verse is asking her for forgiveness, it kind of reminds me of “Lose Control.” I like the make love element I like the way the bridge takes it musically to another place it talks about the relationship standing strong I like the harmonies, I like the melody lines.“I Love You” is my favorite song on the album.
Do you have plans for more videos or to tour this album?
Lil G: We have some exciting ideas about some of the other songs that are in line to be singles. We’ve got some pretty good ideas about what we want to do along with the video director, to make those things come to fruition too. We are definitely trying to spearhead a tour for this album.
Taking it back to the big moment, you are most famous for, Do you have any crazy tour stories or fan tales about “Freak Me?”
Big G: I almost want to say, where do you want to start? I will say this, I’m glad that music taught that lesson to me early in life. I feel like I’m a more well-rounded man because that lyrical content allowed me to responsibly be a good lover, a good communicator when it comes to being physical with a woman. There’s a number of stories, it would be hard to pull it off now. We couldn’t put that record out now. I’m glad being young and dumb, we got the opportunity to do it. I’m taking that lesson with me everywhere I go.Lil G: We were kind of terrified at first when we first started recording this record. We were straight church boys
Lil G: We were kind of terrified at first when we first started recording this record. We were straight church boys.
Big G: I can remember having found out about the song, I found out some years later my mom had a neighbor who she went to almost in council because she could not understand why her son was singing this song. I was just old enough to drink so in her mind I’m still a cub. Back then that was considered a bad record but nowadays everybody’s doing it.
Is there anything you want to add?
Lil G: I would just like to say, that I’m glad we are finally here and I would like to welcome all of our fans, and all of our friends and our loved ones and our foes back into the world of Silk and we hope we are able to enlighten their life in some type of way in a positive manner. And we look forward to doing a lot more music for you.
Big G: Let the people know we recognize that we stayed away for a while. You go through things in life, you try to figure out the proper way to take the next step. One thing I know we all love that keeps us together is we love the music we make together and we love the way our fans respond to that music. We committed ourselves to getting back in the lab to take the opportunity while we have the opportunity to make as much good music as we can. We recognize we took the time away but we’re going to do everything in our power to make enough music to make up for it.