Anthony David has spent the last four years compiling music for his sixth studio album, The Powerful Now. The Georgia native, who became known for his â€œWordsâ€ duet with India.Arie eight years ago, was last heard from on 2012â€™s Love Out Loud. His carefree approach to lifeâ€™s layered emotions turns his music into moving poetry. â€œBeautiful Problemâ€ is his new song and it is about the worthwhile battle for love. In a recent phone conversation with David, he explained that he waited four years to prepare his album because he wanted the songs to have meaning. His creative philosophy is why he has become one of the most recognized R&B artists to emerge from Atlantaâ€™s soul kitchen. The commitment to music making from the heart also attracted the admiration of the Obamas who used â€œThereâ€™s Hopeâ€ as one of their campaign songs. In the following interview David discusses The Powerful Now, bogus R&B niche claims and his love of West African pop music among other things.
“The thing they called neo-soul was niche until Adele does it and then itâ€™s a mainstream thing”
What does the album title The Powerful Now mean to you?
It applies to the moment as in the time we live in now and it can also mean a specific moment youâ€™re in and a lot of times it deals with meditation the here and now. But also, in terms of the album the whole album has that because thereâ€™s different moods on each song. I picked moments of inspiration of all different types so the album doesnâ€™t really stay with one flavor.
When you said that â€œR&Bâ€ is not niche what did you mean?
Itâ€™s really funny dealing with that over the last couple of years from festivals to TV appearances and things like that one thing you get back all the time is from so-called mainstreamers is â€œthis song is niche only a certain amount of people listen to it.â€ And itâ€™s really strange now because youâ€™re in a, I guess you could say Black music of a certain songwriter aspect like thatâ€™s nothing that people in the mainstream know and we look back and there is this â€˜90â€™s R&B resurgence. Thatâ€™s not the kind of thing they thought everybody would be listening to before but all of a sudden yeah a lot of people grew up on that and you can see the influence all kinds of ways much later. The thing they called neo-soul was niche until Adele does it and then itâ€™s a mainstream thing. It applies to a lot of people weâ€™re not singing to certain people weâ€™re singing to humanity. I heard one time Musiq Soulchild was trying to get on Jimmy Fallon or something and they were like â€œAhhhâ€ itâ€™s like dude heâ€™s sold millions of records, how is that something niche? But itâ€™s like gangsta rap, but thatâ€™s something thatâ€™s for a certain amount of people.
What inspired â€œBeautiful Problem?â€
To me, itâ€™s about a romance kind of thing. A cycle like dealing with the reality of things acknowledging the difficulties of it but who wouldnâ€™t want to deal with the problem of love. Like would you not want to have that experience?
How do you feel about all the stuff going on with police brutality and Black Lives Matter?
Generally, the reaction to whatever is going on is worse than what started it. Iâ€™d like to see more organization. I think we shouldâ€™ve had more organization a long time ago. If anything it alerts us to not necessarily new problems, itâ€™s not a new problem, but it definitely wakes people up. The scariest part is not whatâ€™s happening but a reminder of like wow do we have a community? But itâ€™s interesting to see people say â€œLetâ€™s go back to Black banksâ€ old people that you swear up and down ainâ€™t doing nothing ainâ€™t never left that Black bank. Particularly in Atlanta, you have to look at some of the politicians in it and you go in a lot of ways we have to take stock of what is working and we also look to correct things.
Tell me about â€œOut Of My League?â€
I think neo-soul means someone who has a broad base to draw from. I use to be in a hip-hop rock band Iâ€™m talking like 2006 thatâ€™s some of the influences I never really got to get off so I donâ€™t think people think I have any rock or funk influences. That was another moment where I might normally say I donâ€™t want to put that on there but I said fuck it.
“Long live Afrobeat!”
Whatâ€™s the Atlanta music like now compared to when you came out?Â
Itâ€™s a continuum of before we got here like Gladys Knight or James Brown and Otis Redding so thereâ€™s always these waves. Now Janelle Monae is having a nice wave. I think that Janelleâ€™s camp is the strongest so thereâ€™s always something happening, thereâ€™s always a local thing. You can always come here and see live music thatâ€™s Georgia. Georgia is important musically to the world so I think the strongest representation of the new is what Janelle did and I donâ€™t get out that much right now but it wonâ€™t surprise me that you will see another one.
Who is the singer on â€œNever Again?â€
A girl named Reesa Renee, a girl from DC. I met her through Instagram I was in DC doing a show and she was like â€œI got this trackâ€ and we just did it. It kind of has a go-goish feel to it, I like that I love that vibe. I think it also has the quintessential whatever people attribute to the early neo-soul.
Weâ€™re planning a tour but I wanted the album to be out for a while so people can get the gist of it and I really want to organize the tour. Weâ€™re trying to plan out which parts of Europe and what parts of America. Long live Afrobeat! Thatâ€™s the music I listen to the most. Iâ€™m into now the snog on the album â€œI Donâ€™t Mindâ€ is modeled after artists like The Wizkid. Â Itâ€™s fun West African music. When I do go out thatâ€™s usually where I go itâ€™s fun, itâ€™s not crazy. Our music right now, American music itâ€™s pretty crazy so I like West African pop, Afropop. Itâ€™s my favorite music right now. Iâ€™d love to work with several of the artists.