I first heard Shelton Forbez sing on one random late night just after I graduated college and the first thought that went through my mind was “damn! The brother can actually sing.”
Still plagued by a bad sleeping pattern I adopted in college, it was during a late night watching Channel O that I first saw the music video for his single called ‘Butterfly’ featuring rapper, Thaiwanda Thai.
And now that Shelton has taken an indefinite sabbatical from television, he is once again putting the focus back on his music, starting with his latest single called ‘Smoke.’
Although RnB music has his heart, ‘Smoke’ has a darker, sexier, trap music feel to it. The type of track you’d put on a sex playlist (you know, if you’re into that kind of thing).
What Shelton had in mind when he penned the song was the typical way in which a night on the town plays out - you go out, party, come home and have sex (if you’re lucky enough) and then you sleep. Things rarely ever happen in reverse.
As such, the idea came to him when one of his exes came back into his life during a night out celebrating his birthday. The song is basically a narrative of him trying to chat his ex up and woo her so that he can take her home and “reconnect.”
When asked how he feels about people adding this to their own playlists and getting down to his music, Shelton had no qualms with that idea. He’s even happy with putting it on his own playlist.
“My aim with my music is always to make people feel a certain way… So I always aim to write music that makes them feel good” he said.
Since the song is performing so well, he’s considering experimenting with trap on a part-time basis but remains adamant about staying true to his urban-soul/RnB roots.
He says he understands the need to adjust to what is current but he always keeps the thought of what he’ll do when the trend dies out in mind.
I reminded him that although he wants to stay true to RnB, very few artists actually make that kind of music anymore.
You know… that slow, tender, music with lyrics so real you can’t help but animatedly sing along because you either relate so well or you just want to relate. Like Tamia’s ‘So Into You’ or Jagged Edge’s ‘Promise.’
When asked why he made the conscious decision to go into RnB when everyone else seems to be steering away from it, Shelton simply said it felt right because that genre of music is his vibe.
In addition to growing up listening to that throwback RnB like most of us did, Shelton says that it is his go-to choice whenever he needs to listen to music.
“It’s what I know, it’s what I am good at, it’s what I’m good at writing and I prefer singing,” he said.
“I’m a lover of love, I like relationships, I like connecting with that one special girl and RnB is the only way for me to express myself, through that and it’s the best reason to stay true to myself and the stories that I can tell,” he added.
He also believes that he and his peers, the likes of KLY, Tellaman and Tshego, can change the game and alter people’s mindsets about RnB and trap if they get this music thing right.
“RnB is being received well, it’s just a matter of it breaking through and having it’s moment.”
The first step in getting this music thing right would be releasing a musical project and Shelton says the mixtape he is working on (titled New Season) should drop in the next 2 months or so.
Once that is out of the way, he is hoping to work with a lot more producers than artists as he is already working on being featured on a number of tracks and he’s trying to move away from that.
Speaking of producers, Shelton is particularly fond of Wichi 1080 who produced ‘Smoke.’ He says it is because of his innate musical midas touch and the international quality he emphasises on putting on whatever work he produces.
Shelton’s long-term plans include working harder on his philanthropic efforts which involve providing a platform for the next generation of talent through a monthly event he hosts called ‘New Melody’ as well as a two-week-old talent academy he just opened.
He believes that developing new talent is another way in which he can change the game and gain more ownership over whatever he produces - either musically or for television.
Which is probably why he gave an independent female director the chance to work on his video for ‘Smoke.’
This discussion on talent development then got us talking about the good old days of hip hop competitions such as Strictly Hip Hop and Masters of Rhythm. And as slightly embarrassing as those days were (back when we all wore Evisu jeans and wanted to krump), they were great because they were one of the main ways to discover new dance talent before social media took off.
That type of platform has a special place in Shelton’s heart as he was discovered in a dance studio back in his hood when he was only 14.
He hinted at venturing into something similar in future but refused to give any more than that away… for now…
“My brand is at that level where I can do stuff like that now, I’d love to bring back that culture where we’re all just looking forward to that one competition where everyone is like ‘yo, I can’t wait to go there and see the hottest dancers’ but I feel like I need to do it in a different way,” said Shelton.
We also spoke about the fact that Sound Cloud projects will now be eligible for Grammy consideration and Shelton is very optimistic about that development. He believes it will widen the music scope and give music that isn’t so mainstream a chance to not only be heard by a wider audience but for it to get the peer recognition it deserves without having to go a route that isn’t so easily accessible.
He doesn’t believe it’s going to be easy for musicians but nothing worth having ever is, and I guess that’s something he could have only learned on this journey that he is on.
Main image credit: Instagram