Eric Benét Discuss Self-Titled Album, Authentic R&B, and Turning 50!
With more than 20 years in the industry, four-time Grammy nominated singer and songwriter, Eric Benet, is back like he never left with his self-titled, eighth album. From “Spend My Life With You” and “Chocolate Legs”, to his new singles “Insane” and “Sunshine”, Benét manages to give fans love, sexiness, and soul with every note he hits. Since his debut album, True to Myself, dropped in the 90s, Benet has given his all on each track and this new album is a true representation of the man behind the mic. “After driving around and living with this record for a while after it was mastered, this was the first time I could not stop listening to one of my albums,” Benét said. “I’d be at home listening to my own stuff which is rare. It was such a pure representation of who I am. It’s really me, hence the self-titled album.”
Don’t try looking for a new sound because you won’t find it in his new record. That’s the magic behind Benét’s longevity in the music business. Fans can rely on him to bring the same creative and melodically pleasing vibes that he’s delivered since day one. The only difference you’ll find is that he gets better with time. “I don’t try to reinvent myself. I just keep trying to get better and better and trust the initial wave of creation more and not second guess it,” said Benét. “I just think there’s nothing uniquely different other than the fact that it’s a better version of me.”
On this album, the dynamic duo of Eric Benet and singer Tamia returns with a the hit single “Sunshine” which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Adult & R&B chart. Their famous collaboration on the classic song “Spend My Life With You” is considered a staple in weddings all over the world and the new track is looking like another classic in the works. The chemistry between the two songbirds is indeed special and indescribable. “It’s just something about the way our voices sync perfectly. The combination of us two is like musical love,” Benet said. “If I were to attempt to break it down and explain it, I don’t think I could more so that I would be able to explain why peanut butter and jelly taste so good together. It just works.”
With two decades behind him, Benet is a pillar in the music game and has paved the way for other upcoming talents to follow in his footsteps. As he’s previously stated earlier this year, this album is laced with “authentic R&B” music which according to him, is ever fleeting nowadays. Living in the digital world has made an impact not only on how people buy, sell, and listen to music but has also affected the way music is created. The integrity of R&B music, how it sounds and how it’s labeled is very important to Benét and he wishes for the genre to go back to its roots. “It’s frustrating because when I started the business people actually respected music enough to pay for a song. You wanted to pay money for your new Prince or Earth, Wind, and Fire record. There was more reverence for the art,” Benet said. “Now, it’s less reverence for the art and more reverence for the personality and hype.”
Benet continued to discuss just how crucial it is to uphold the state of R&B music and how important to know the discernment between real R&B sound and to properly categorize the genre. “To me when I say authentic R&B, I’m talking about rhythm and blues. I’m talking about instruments. I think the genre of R&B is misnamed often today. It seems as though they call music R&B but to my ears it’s not really R&B it’s more like techno meets hip hop meets auto tune,” Benét said. “If somebody is black singing on top of that they call it R&B and if someone is white singing on top of that they call it Pop. I would like to see R&B categorize correctly. I don’t want to see it lost in the shuffle.”
Not all hope is lost for the state of music today. According to Benet there is a new era of “dope cats” such as Ro James and BJ the Chicago Kid who have the potential to bring the genre back to its origin. “It’s becoming dope again to be real and play instruments and sing for real. So there’s definitely hope.”
Eric Benet’s music is considered soulful, sexy, and “baby making.” Though he may be responsible for a few of his listeners procreating, he’s created three beautiful daughters of his own. His oldest, India, is a spitting image of her father and is stepping into his shoes as a musical artist. “I think it’s amazing. She’s incredibly talent,” He says proudly. “She’s finding her own voice and doing it her own way and that makes me very proud.”
Raising three daughters can be a challenge for any father but adding the music industry into the mix, Benét made sure to instill a solid foundation within his girls, particularly India, so she can mindful of her dating life and her artistry. Benet said the advice he’s given to his daughter is no different than what any other father would give but when it comes to the music business, he’s adamant about following his daughter following her own intuition. “She should own her life. Sometimes you have to listen to the general consensus of people that you respect before you make your decision, but always stand on your choices,” Benét said. “When it comes to music, own your business. Don’t be subject to someone else’s dictation of how you’re supposed to sound. If you can avoid it, don’t sign a publishing deal. Just be aa autonomous as you possibly can and stay true to that.”
Though it may come as a shock to some, Eric Benet celebrated his 50th birthday mid-October. The locs have now turned into a shaggy fro yet he still looks just as sexy, if not sexier, then he did in his “Georgy Porgy” days. With the success of his latest album, Eric shows that he still has it and the possibly of him losing it is slim to none. “It’s an incredible feeling. It’s still just as exciting, fun and exhilarating getting in the studio and coming up with new songs. It’s an incredible blessing and affirmation to still be doing this so many years later and put out a single and have it go to the top of the charts,” He continued. “I have the utmost gratitude to those that listened to me, supported me, and been touch by my music. As long as you take care of yourself, you’ll be able to stay in this for the long haul.”
Benet has accomplished plenty in the last five decades but his greatest accomplishment is beyond the Grammy nods: it’s being a father. “Up until you have a baby, you’re going through life selfishly. You’re trying to get that money for you, have some fun for you, etc. As soon as you hold that baby, it’s like there’s this resounding, cathartic, aha moment unlike any other. It’s like this is why I was born. This is why I’m here,” said Benét. “As a father there’s nothing that equates to your 24 year old child calling you and telling you how grateful they are of your relationship, how much they love you and seeing them prosper and strive and create.”
With half a century down, Benet is looking towards the future and ready to continue on his musical journey in hopes of never being too old to produce great music as he’s done time and time again. “Music will never get old. I’m looking forward to the next album. Once you get bit by the bug, you keep feening for the next project. [I’m] just trying to make as much use of this precious time that I have.”
Although Eric is highly recognized for his music, what many don’t know is how much of a philanthropist he is. He and his friend, Reggie Benjamin, partnered to create a nonprofit called Mission Save Her in order to combat human trafficking and domestic violence against women. His heart for giving back was actually ignited by his wife, Manuela Testolini, who is the founder of nonprofit organization, In A Perfect World. “I married an amazing woman who for the past 10 years of her life has been driven by philanthropy and created education for children in remote parts of the world. Her nonprofit is one of the rare organizations that 100 % of the money that’s donated goes towards the cause,” stated Benét. “She awakened that loving gene inside of me.”
Eric just finished a tour with Anthony Hamilton and will be releasing his second single “Insane.” He’s working on producing a film and possibly headlining a tour for his self-titled album at the top of the year. To stay up to date, be sure to visit his website and follow him on social media.
Written By: Kyree Shockley