Matt Blaque

29 October 2010

[ ] : Please tell us a few basic words about where you are from and who you are.

[ Matt Blaque ] : First of, my name is Matt Blaque. I'm an R&B singer, coming out of the Bay Area. I'm originally from Oakland, Ca, it's probably the second biggest city in the Bay Area, so a lot of rich musical heritage comes out of Oakland. En Vogue, MC Hammer, a lot of big names, of course Too Short. That's where I'm from, that's where I got my start.

[ ] : Let's move back to where it all began. Where did you grow up? Tell us how did you manage not to end up living a street life, full of drugs and violence? Who kept you on the right path back then?

[ Matt Blaque ] : I was raised by my mother and father. I have a twin brother, they worked real hard to support us and bring us up positively in a not so positive set of surroundings. I've had a good childhood, 'cause they worked hard and stuck together to raise me and my brother. They kept us away from the streets, they kept us definitely playing sports. And also other thing they contributed to me and my brother's success, they put us in good schools. They both worked jobs; my mom's a school teacher, my dad was working for the county at the time. Me and my brother always had the best education. That really helped to keep us out of the street life. Although I was raised in the backyard, you know what I mean. I started singing ever since I was... I've been singing since I can remember, probably 4 or 5 old years I started singing. My dad used to sing playing a guitar. I sat and watched him and from a young age I knew what I wanted to do. I knew it's what I wanted to do, but my dad also used to tell me that it's hard to make it in the music industry, so it was a little bit discouraging, which is why I focused a lot of energy on sports at a young age as well. Pretty much literally baseball and school basketball. Then when I got to high school I really started playing football, that's when I started putting my energy into it. I love the sport. I ended up going to college. Actually in Portland, Or, playing little college ball out there for a while. But once I finished at Lewis & Clark college, I really knew that I wasn't going to play football for the rest of my life. I had played enough football until I was comfortable leaving it alone and really focused on something I had a passion for, that I could do for the rest of my life. And that's this music.

[ ] : You've started singing at a very young age, though you've also been a very promising football player. What made you decide to choose between those two? Do you regret leaving the field behind?

[ Matt Blaque ] : I don't regret leaving football. I think I did what I was exactly supposed to do. I think it was part of coming up, part of creating my structure and discipline. I think it served its purpose. I don't see myself playing football now in the pros or anything, so I don't really regret. I just look back at the times that I played and I'm just thankful for the things that I went through.

[ ] : Tell us about your musical education. What have you learned at the Digital Arts School?

[ Matt Blaque ] : After I left college I moved back home. I actually moved in with my twin brother, who I hadn't lived with for a long time, because I was out of state. That's when I bumped into a group of rappers. I was kind of just singing, just playing around and whatever like "ooh, you can sing", so they took me to the studio. That's when I really saw that this is what I wanted to do, I had a passion to do that. After a couple of studio sessions with them and messing around, singing a couple of hooks on their songs I decided to take it seriously, so I went to my mom and told her that I wanted to go to school to basically learn how to run a studio. She went with me and I enrolled to a school called Expression, it's in Emeryville, Ca. It's one of the biggest musical digital recording schools on the West Coast. I went there, went through the 14-month program. I dived into everything, I learned how to record, engineer, mix, master, I learned how to make tracks, program tracks. They taught me music theory... they even taught me how to make a mic cable. I can make a mic cable if it really came down to it. After I finished that program I got my little diploma, I got a good internship with a guy named Narada Michael Walden. He was a famous producer in the 80's. He did Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Tevin Campbell, you name it, like it was a hit back then he had something to do with it. He worked real close with Clive Davis when he was a CEO of Arista. It ended up being a good chance for me to work under somebody who's been in the industry, who's had success in the industry, who's had failure in the industry and just to learn from someone that know this game inside out. Through that internship, it was originally for engineering, when I got there of course, he saw that I can write and arrange songs, so he appointed me a senior writer. After that I ended up writing songs for James Brown. I met James Brown, he came to the studio, this was before he passed. Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, I just got a lot of writing opportunities through working with Narada.

[ ] : What pushed you to start off your own business? Tell us about your first independent release.

[ Matt Blaque ] : And then it came a point in time when I was like OK I'm ready to take this to a level that's my own, where I'm not working under anybody, I'm not doing the projects that he wants to do, I'm doing what I want to do. Right before I left Narada I dropped my first independent release, it was entitled "Matt Blaque". I don't know numberwise it did great, but it definitely showed people all over the world that I could make an album and I make music. I never really heard too many bad comments about that record. People still ask me about it.

[ ] : Tell us about the beginning of your adventure and the collaboration with northern California rappers. How did you meet such people as The Jacka, Messy Marv and Laroo?

[ Matt Blaque ] : After I released that album I went out on my own. I just started going around the Bay, you know like this is my home, so I'll travel all around the Bay Area and do hooks for the rap cats, the local guys around here. Whoever needed a hook on their record I was willing to go to the studio and sing. That's how I caught the attention of Messy Marv. He was pretty instrumental in introducing me to the whole Bay Area rap scene. Mess was on top of the game, he's still pretty much on top of the game, but he was in his prime at this point and he took me in, put me on a lot of different records and released them. That's when everybody started kind of recognizing me, 'cause everybody was listening to Mess at the time. That's when Jacka caught me like "yo man, I've been hearing you around, I want you to come to the studio and get on the song". I was aight, so I went to the studio, Jack's in there, he has the beat playing, I just put the hook on it. The song was called "All Over Me". That became a big hit for us out here. It was my first time being on the radio. Clear Channel broadcasted everyday and it was exciting and I started to grow, my name was starting to grow. And at that point Laroo hit me and he wanted to get me on something, so I went to Laroo's spot. Kicked it with him and then we came with "Put Me On", so back to back we had "All Over Me" and "Put Me On". That's when things really started blowing up for me and get me out there as THE R&B singer in the Bay Area.

[ ] : Let's focus on your discography now. You've debuted in 2005 with a self titled album, right? Was it just a strict R&B release? I've heard it is out-of-print, do you plan to re-release it?

[ Matt Blaque ] : My 2005 self titled album was strictly R&B. I do plan to re-release it. Right now I'm working on my second album, which is called "Blaque Out". It's strictly R&B too. I've got a lot of features on it: Brisco from Cash Money / Young Money, E-40, Mistah F.A.B., Yukmouth. Cozmo made a lot of phenomenal tracks on there. The Legion made a couple of tracks... Basically I've been doing rap - rap hooks and rap songs, singing on rap songs for so long. I just want to let people see the other side of me, the side that's the singer, the song writer. That's what I've been working on now, but I do definitely plan on re-releasing that first album. But I'm not sure if I'm going to do it immediately.

[ ] : You've dropped a couple of mixtapes too, yet it was the year of 2010 which brought two of your official duet albums. Tell us more about your work with Guce and Chosen. Please elaborate on the projects you did with them.

[ Matt Blaque ] : I had a mixtape in 2008. It was a Messy Marv presents Matt Blaque and Click Clack Gang mixtape - "Hustlas Motivation Vol. 2". Just a compilation of a lot of classics, a lot of old songs - I just recreated them, rewrote the lyrics, with the same tracks, with the same melodies and just try to keep the feel and that's really where I'm going for now. I believe in old style of making records, like when cats were just making records, it didn't matter, there was no formula to it, it didn't have to be like the last hit record that came out, it was just good records. If it was a good record - there it is, let's put it out. That's what I'm trying to get back to. Not necessarily following what the last dude did or try to copy this dude over here, just doing what I feel, just get into the studio, vibing in what I feel and putting out good music. I also had an album with Chosen that came out July 2010 "Dufflebag Music". A lot of good songs on there, definitely check that album. And I had an album "A Gangsta And A Gentleman" with Guce, you know him from Bully's Wit Fully's, with Killa Tay, Messy Marv. A lot of good songs on there, a lot of songs were produced by Tron Treez who's responsible for Messy Marv's "Disobayish" album.

[ ] : Except for the artists we've already mentioned you also recorded with such stars like E-40, Keak Da Sneak, Yukmouth, San Quinn, Cozmo and many more. Do you plan to expand your network for artists out of California? Who would you like to work with?

[ Matt Blaque ] : My company's expanding in California, I think that's really important. This is home, but the money's out there. You stay true to where you're from and go get cool with other people where they at. That's how we're looking at it. We're trying definitely to expand. I wanna work with everybody, I wanna work with Too Short, 'cause he's the only person from my home that I haven't worked with yet. I wanna work with Jeezy, 'cause I think he's doing his thing, T.I., just anybody I can get with to make a quality record - that's who I wanna work with - Keyshia Cole...

[ ] : There's a new single from you called "Tequila" buzzing on the Internet for sometime now which is about to be featured on your upcoming solo joint. When do you plan to release "Blaque Out"? Can you disclose some more detailed information about it?

[ Matt Blaque ] : "Tequila"... yeah that's the first single off "Blaque Out", which I mentioned before. It's my second album that I'm getting ready to release. It's featuring Jacka. It's a hot song, club song with a Latin, salsa type of feel. You know, I drink tequilas; when I go to the bar or when I'm at home, I want some tequila. I just wrote a song about that and try to keep it as real as possible. Me and Jack we used to go do shows all the time, we'd always get shots. Shots of Cazadores, shots of Patron... I was feeling it was fitting to put him on the record. He didn't let me down either, he definitely fell into the whole concept of the song. If you hear the song you'll see what I'm talking about. He rapped a couple of words in Spanish here and there, it's a real flavor. That's the first single off "Blaque Out".

[ ] : Have you ever tried rapping or doing any other genre of music except for RnB singing?

[ Matt Blaque ] : I've rapped (laugh). I'm actually pretty good, but it's just so many rappers and the rapper pool is so cluttered at this point I feel that since I'm able something other than rap, I choose not to really rap. But you can probably find some things like on Chosen & Matt "Dufflebag Music" album I had a verse on a song called "Runnin" - a second verse, I was rapping on there. If you pick up that record you could check that out. Rapping to me is really how do you play with words. And as an R&B singer I feel I've been successful, because I'm singing, but it's the way that I say the things that I'm saying. As far as rapping that's the same thing, to me just put your words together and make'em flow with the beat.

[ ] : After we learned about your life, music career and future plans, tell us Matt what do you find your biggest success of your life?

[ Matt Blaque ] : My biggest success is just being able to do what I love to do everyday. Pay the bills, take care of the family and just be able to do what I love to do. I've worked jobs before, but honestly I don't like that. It's not to say that if I had to work a job again I couldn't do it, but to be able to make my living and support my family, doing music - that's the best thing I could've asked for. I love this life. That's why I work hard and stay at it and don't take it for granted. It could be gone day, but while I got it going on I'm a just get it.

Visit Matt Blaque on MySpace and purchase his music online on iTunes.
Read our reviews of I-5 Connect albums:
I-5 Connect - The First 48
I-5 Connect - Premeditated: The EP