By: Todd Davis
Robert Wilson, or as he is professionally known, Bobby Valentino, is a Jackson, Mississippi, by way of ATL, Georgia, native, who first rose to fame in the mid nineties as a lead singer in the, now defunct, boy band quartet, Mista. After amicably parting ways with his former group-mates, Valentino embarked on a successful solo run that saw the Clark Atlanta University graduate drop his self-titled, platinum-plus debut in 2005.
His highly anticipated, but oft-delayed, sophomore set, Special Occasion, followed in May of ’07, but numerous release date changes and poor single choices, caused the album to fail commercially. Rap Industry Dot Com recently caught up with the 28 year old Pisces to get the latest scoop on all things Bobby V
First things first, you are no longer signed to the Disturbing tha Peace/Def Jam roster, correct?
Yes, I am officially no longer with Def Jam or DTP.
So, what exactly caused your departure?
It was time for me to move on. DTP is a great label, but sometimes things don’t click and sometimes people just need to take risks for things they believe in. I felt like there were things I needed to accomplish creatively on my own and in the future. I have a lot of music in me that no one’s gotten to hear. This Come with Me album is my first expression of that. I strongly believe that it is a classic EP.
It’s been recently reported that you got dropped from DTP because you had a, “Bad attitude, bad album sales, and bad performances!” Is there any truth to this?
Not at all, there are no hard feelings, nor were there ever, between myself and DTP. As far as bad album sales, I believe my past two albums have been the second highest selling albums on the DTP roster, besides Luda. So, that is also not the case either. People like to
spread rumors, but the truth is Luda and Chaka (Zulu) are good dudes, (and) I’m a good
dude. I work hard, and I am passionate about my music.
Your much delayed sophomore project, Special Occasion , suffered several release date setbacks, among other things — Is this why you feel that the album failed sales-wise?
Well, Special Occasion was the number 3 album in the country when it came out. I did take a slight drop from my first album in sales, but still sold almost 100,000 my first week. I think the setbacks did hurt the sales, but I wouldn’t consider the album a failure. I think I
learned a lot as an artist and business man throughout the process of Special Occasion. I fell under the industry notion of, “Oh, you have to work with this producer. Or, Oh, go to
him to get a hit,” when really I know I sold more on my first album because I was more involved in the music and it was more consistent. This new digital EP I put out Come with Me is the most involved I’ve ever been on a project. I wrote all of it, and even co-produced with Bill Jabr who is now with the Clutch.
Are you signed to a recording contract at this time?
At this time I am indie, but I am in talks.
Now you just dropped your self-produced EP, Come with Me — What prompted this decision?
Come with Me is something I NEEDED to put out. Selling a digital album indie is something most of these major artists are drooling over right now. I remember seeing an article on Billboard where my friend, T Pain, was talking about how when his deal is up he is going to go indie, strictly digital. That article struck a nerve with me. On Come with Me, we are really testing the digital waters. The album hasn’t gone to radio, TV or any other media, besides the internet. More importantly, this is a musical statement for me. I promise you if you sit down and listen to this album, top to bottom, then you will get a better idea of who I am and where I am going as an artist. Come with Me is incredible, and I encourage all of you to check it out.
What’s to be expected from this project?
A whole different/new sound! Bill and I challenged ourselves to make every song in a different genre, while maintaining a consistent vibe and direction. We were very inspired by Andre 3000’s The Love Below, and Prince’s Sign O’ the Times, on this one. This is for my real music lovers! We went all out on this EP. I’ve been waiting to pull the trigger and release these songs. I am so excited for the world to hear them.
This is actually a pre-cursor of sorts to your forthcoming third solo LP, Underground Love — Where does that title derive from?
The Underground Love is actually a title I had back in high school. It’s been thrown back and forth, but I just thought it was appropriate for this next album because unlike my other albums, it will be a little alternative and different, almost an underground sound.
Starting out as the lead singer in the Mista collective, how did the whole transition to soloist come about?
I just started grinding and recording songs on my own. I had like four albums worth of songs before my first album came out.
What has been the secret to your success?
Never give up, and never stop recording.
Are you happy with the current state of R&B music?
R&B has evolved so much, in good ways and in bad ways. You don’t hear many pure singers anymore in the industry. It’s sad. I miss the days of K-CI and JoJo, Aaron Hall, old R Kelly, Mint Condition, etcetera. There are definitely a few guys holding it down now, but for the most part it’s changed a lot. It’s more of a hit song driven industry, than an album and artist driven industry, and I want to do everything I can to change that and take it back to the music and making good albums.
Outside of music, what types of things do you enjoy doing?
I like playing golf, X Box, etcetera.
As for the immediate, what’s next for you?
Well, I just put out this Come with Me EP, available now on ITUNES, and I am finishing up my next album, staying on the road, and working harder than ever.
What is your relationship like now with Ludacris, and the rest of the DTP family?
It is good. They will always be family. I always will hold a high level of respect for them.
Do you have any message for our readers?
Thanks for supporting me, and please check out my new album/EP Come with Me. This is a really personal project for me, so make sure you check it out and spread the word. Thank you for the interview!