A Conversation with Bilal

BilalMass1Photo by Mass

When I first heard Bilal’s Soul Sista on the radio in 2001, I did not know he was the same voice I had heard singing on Common’s song The 6th Sense just a year prior. His style was a throw back to a soul sound I had remembered of the early 80s at the same time blending it with a futuristic sound. I couldn’t call myself a fan, but I respected him for bringing something new to soul/R&B music.

When I got my hands on 1st Born Second, I was hypnotized by every song I heard. I saw him perform for the first time shortly afterward. It couldn’t have been a better introduction to his live experience: New York’s Blue Note, a live band, guest appearance from Common, and an impromptu jam session with Musiq Soulchild and Raphael Saadiq. It was a show that I would never and have not forgotten.

In 2005, I saw him perform for the second time at Celebrate Brooklyn’s Summer Concert series. Bilal performed All 4 Love from his second album Love 4 Sale that would be due out in September of that year. September came and went and no album. When I had lost all hope of a second album, a friend gave me a copy of the leaked album. To a music lover like me, it was worth more than gold to have that CD in my hands. As I listened to the album, I rediscovered Bilal and honestly felt like a fan.

To sit down and chat with Bilal would be any fan’s dream. It was to my amazement that the busy musician granted me a phone interview to talk about his official second album Airtight’s Revenge and the release of his latest video Levels.


Photos by Mass