Skip to main content
Select Source:

Musiq 1977–

Musiq 1977

Singer

Soul Immersion

Music IQ

Aijustvanaseing

Juslisen

Selected discography

Source

Mix soul, funk, jazz, hip hop, and gospel, and the result is award winning singer Musiq, whose meteoric rise could almost be a fairy tale. A player in the recent musical explosion of neo-soul, the formidable singer had the elusive distinction of being the recipient of both critical and commercial acclaim and success. It took only a few years for the former street beat-boxer to rise to the top of the music charts and become the recipient of some of the industrys top awards and distinctions.

Soul Immersion

Born Taalib Johnson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Musiq was the oldest of nine children in a Muslim family. His parents kept strict control over their large household, and were responsible for Musiqs early love of and appreciation for the soul and funk music of the 1970s, music that shaped his artistic vision and musical voice and style. From an early age, Musiq was immersed in the musical tradition of such artists as Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Donny Hathaway, John Coltrane, James Brown, and Patti LaBelle. Both of his parents sang, and his father played the saxophone. Creative by nature, young Musiq grew up drawing and singing in an encouraging atmosphere.

Young Musiq was restless, however, and singing along with the ever-present funk music playing at home wasnt enough for long. At the age of sixteen, he quit school before entering the tenth grade. He also left home, traveling around the area to stay with anyone who would have him for a while. During this time, he took his voice to the streets of Philadelphia. MCs hung out on South Street and the Boston Street Market to perform their own musical styling for the passers-by, and Musiq was a regular. He began his public singing career by beat-boxing for the rappers; essentially, Musiq provided vocal percussion to keep the beat. Musiq told Vibe that beat-boxing was the most effective way I could think of to contribute. I couldnt rhymeI couldnt think of words that fast; I was always thinking of notes. Those in the area grew accustomed to him, and called out for him to perform. Soon, he had a following of sorts, as well as a new name: Music Boy.

Music IQ

Because he believed that the music is more important than the person behind it, Musiq had no qualms about the new moniker. However, he did decide to modify the

At a Glance

Born Taalib Johnson in 1977, in Philadelphia, PA

Career: Singer; Aijuswanaseing, 2000; Juslisen, 2002.

Awards: BET Awards, Best Male R & B Artist, 2001, Best New Artist, 2001; Source Award, R & B Artist of the Year; NAACP Image Award, Outstanding New Artist, 2001; R & B Urban/Urban AC, Song of the Year, 2001; Soul Train Award, Best R & B/Soul Single, 2002; NAACP Image Award, Best Song, 2002; Grammy Award nominee, Best Male R & B Vocal Performance, 2002.

Address: Universal Music Group, 2220 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404.

new name. Musiq was a fusion of two words, muse for the muses of mythology who were believed to be the source for inspiration of all types, and IQ, as in creative intelligence. For a time, he also sported a last name, Soulchild, but later dropped it because it symbolized the more radical portion of his alter ego, and the music he was producing did not match.

The newly dubbed singer continued performing on the streets, at malls, and in local shows and open mies. Not only had he acquired the attention of the listening public, Musiq also acquired a management team. Joining up with Mamas Boys Musics Mike McArthur and Jerome Hipps was providential for the singer, and in 1999, Musiq recorded a demo at DJ Jazzy Jeffs studio, A Touch of Jazz, which his managers offered to Kevin Liles, president of Def Soul records. That demo would be a gold record in less than a year.

Fusing the music of the 1970s with more recent hip-hop was what neo-soul artists were doing. Musiqs emotion-filled songs were inspired by such a fusion of sounds and styles, with a fair sprinkling of spirituality and introspection added to the mix. He told MTV that his artistry is about conviction. I dont believe soul is something you can fake. Im trying to make my music as real as possible, because I feel this is my form of communicating with the world.

Aijustvanaseing

Neo-soul music was coming into vogue, and artists such as DAngelo, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott were hot. Musiqs vocal stylings fell squarely into this category, and the powers-that-be at Def Soul knew a winner when they heard one. Not only was Musiqs demo released in the autumn of 2000 as his first album, Aijuswanaseing, the first single, Just Friends, was included on the movie soundtrack for The Nutty Professor II. Packaged with such heavy hitters as Janet Jackson and LL Cool J, Musiqs popularity took off. Aijuswanaseing spawned three singles, which were all in Billboards top thirty

The album titles strange spelling, which was written slang for I Just Want to Sing, became one of Musiqs trademarks. Many of his song titles, as well as his second albums titleJuslisen translated to Just Listensported the playful approach to spelling and grammar, a characteristic as ever-present as the singers sunglasses. Unlike the slang, which started out as something fun, the sunglasses began as a way to hide a lazy eye. But both became as much a Musiq trademark as the music.

Both a critical and popular success, Aijuswanaseing showcased Musiqs jazz-funk-hip hop-soul style to a large audience, helped along by the singers extensive touring with other like-minded artists. The single and the album garnered Musiq several awards, more acclaim, and a huge following, and the album sold nearly two million copies. He had become a known quantity and a good bet, and was granted considerable creative freedom by Def Soul for album number two, Juslisen released in 2002.

Juslisen

As he did with his first album, Musiq collaborated on Juslisen with his partner in songwriting, Carvin Ha-gins. Although his second album did not distance itself musically from his first effort, Musiq had found a formula that worked. As Musiq quipped to Black Voices, If it aint broke, dont fix it. The first single, Love, earned him a place among the years best with a Grammy Award, among other recognition. Musiq had come out on top, and was headlining concerts on the supporting tour.

Musiq looked forward to a time in the future when he would write more socially radical or politically relevant lyrics, but acknowledged to Knight Ridder that the second album was too soon for such a departure. I want to get to the point where the people who like what I do will follow where I want to go. And Im not there yet. Kevin Liles, Def Jam president, echoed this idea, claiming the slower, gradual development of Musiq as an artist is crucial to his continued success in the business. As he told Black Voices, This is not a one or two album thing. Were concentrating on building a brand.

In spite of the nearly instant success he achieved as an artist, Musiq did not want to limit himself to singing. An aspiring filmmaker, he was writing scripts, and hoped to also produce and direct in the future. An admirer of animated filmmaker Ralph Bakshi, who was responsible for American Pop and Heavy Traffic, Musiq told WMXD that I like how he articulates his thoughts through words and color. His films follow the same rules as funk music with its extremeness, chaotic order, and organized confusion. Musiq was also interested in fashion, and was working with a program that had teaching youth about the music business as its mission. In addition to these other interests, he continued working in a production partnership called Carmui, slang for karma, with producer Ivan Barias and co-songwriter Hagins.

But making music was still Musiqs first love and inspiration, and despite his phenomenal success, the singer often preferred to spend his time alone writing, reading, and thinking. Despite being linked with certain females, Musiq was a confirmed bachelor, at least for the foreseeable future. Still, no one heard Musiq complain. Musiq told Interview, Ive learned a lot of things the hard way. But Im blessed, because now I appreciate life. Its not a game.

Selected discography

Aijuswanaseing, Def Soul, 2000.

Juslisen, Def Soul, 2002.

Source

Periodicals

The Detroit News, May 3, 2002.

Ebony, June 2002, p. 128.

Interview, Jan-April 2001, p. 32.

Knight Ridder News Service, May 8, 2002.

On-line

new.blackvoices.com.com

www.alloy.com

www.askmen.com

www.bbc.co.uk

www.charlotte.com

www.def.soul.com

www.hob.com

www.mtv.com

www.popmatters.com

www.teenpeople.com

www.vibe.com

www.wmxd923.com

Helene Barker Kiser

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Musiq 1977–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Musiq 1977–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/musiq-1977

"Musiq 1977–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/musiq-1977

Musiq

Musiq

Singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Called the next Stevie Wonder, Musiq is a singer with a smooth touch, a songwriter with soul, and a hunky Philadelphian who favors dark glasses and a goatee. Noted for his idiosyncratic spelling after titling albums Aijuswanaseing and Juslisen, he told Rolling Stone in 2002: Its almost like how kids spell things, when they first learn their ABCs, its just how you hear it, how it sounds. He noted wryly that a teacher might think all these years Im trying to teach these kids how to learn proper grammar, only for him to just throw it all to hell.

Musiq joined Madonna, Cher, and Sting in the one-name department shortly before releasing his second solo album in early 2002. The son of a singer and saxophonist for various Philadelphia-area soul bands, he began his career as Musiq Soulchild on the citys streets, a human beatbox who mimicked drum machines and hip-hop beats with his voice. In an interview published on the ABC News website, he reminisced about those days, saying I used to mock my favorite songs on the radio. In his early teens Musiq also performed at open-mike nights at local clubs such as the Five Spot and Wilhelminas.

Initially he hoped to perform in an R&B ensemble like Parliament-Funkadelic until DAngelos emergence as a solo artist inspired him to take the same route. His talent spoke for itself, and soon Musiq had a management team and attention from Island Def Jam Records. Just Friends (Sunny) landed on the soundtrack for Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and quickly became a hit. By then, record labels were anxious to build on the neo-soul genre, from which DAngelo and fellow R&B visionaries Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Angie Stone, and Lauryn Hill emerged to sell millions of records.

Like those artists, Musiq draws unashamedly from 1960s and 1970s soul heroes Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Al Green. A lot of people come to me with that, he said of those soul-music pioneers, who clearly influenced his debut album. Its a beautiful thing that people actually put me up with those people, you know. Its one of the greatest compliments that I could ever ask for, you know, and I appreciate anybody who does that. However, I dont want people to get the misconception that Im trying to be these people in any way. Im not trying to be Stevie Wonder, Im not trying to be Sly [Stone], Im not trying to be Donny [Hathaway], Im not trying to be James Brown. I just want to be who I am, and hopefully that will help people to find their own thing.

Depending on his mood, in interviews Musiq will either distance himself from his influences or enthusiastically embrace them. Of his simple, to-the-point songwriting style, he told Billboard in 2002: I learned that from Stevie Wonder. He had that unique ability to tell a story and make it seem so simple and in-your-face, but when you sat back and thought about what he was saying, it

For the Record

Born Taalib Johnson in Philadelphia, PA.

Formerly known as Musiq Soulchild; signed with Island Def Jam, released Aijuswanaseing, 2000; released Juslisen, 2002.

Awards: Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist-New, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist-Male, and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Artist, 2001; Soul Train Awards, Best R&B/Soul Single for Love, 2002.

Addresses: Record company Island Def Jam, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019. Website Musiq Official Website: http://www.defsoul.com/musiq.

was deep s***. Ive always admired that about him, so Ive adopted that same type of technique when it comes to writing.

In that same Billboard interview, Musiq further deconstructed his songwriting process. My writing partner [Carvin Haggins] also helps me to make my points effective, where it sticks in peoples minds, he said. Our thing is to be the architects of the song, as much as we possibly canto make a good house out of it. When you look at it, you should be able to see the frame, the windows, and a garage on the side, as opposed to making this experiment and having no place to put your car.

Despite its unusual spellingI Just Want to Sing is the helpful parenthetical translation on the CD coverAijuswanaseing sold 1.7 million copies and landed three singles in Billboards R&B/hip-hop top 30. The albums theme is fairly straightforward: women. Musiq and Hagginss songs talk of women who call, women who wont call, women who were once awkward schoolmates, women with caramel skin and chocolate brown lips, women with light green eyes. Girl dont you know my whole world stops for you, croons a typical sentiment in My Girl. In this relationship youre first and I come two.

Although his record-label marketers boasted that Musiq went in a different direction on his sophomore album, the songs cover much of the same territory. Juslisen (Just Listen), according to USA Todays Steve Jones, depicts mating-dance scenarios full of stops, starts and unexpected twists. Listeners are often left wondering where hes going with a musical plotline, and the answer, if he gives one, may unfold in another song. The album closes with a lover-man version of the Beatles classic, Something.

The out-of-nowhere success of Aijuswanaseing boosted Island Def Jams marketing budget for Musiqs second album, and raised the charismatic singers profile as well. He appeared on Showtimes Soul Food in early 2002, participated in several major Black Entertainment Television (BET) promotions and, of course, toured. But, as with highly anticipated sophomore albums by Badu, Hill, and Maxwell, Musiqs follow-up sold disappointinglygoing gold, not platinum, and peaking at number 21 on the Billboard pop-album chart before dropping to the low eighties by early fall. Dominating the summer R&B charts instead were rappers such as Nas, Nelly, and Eminem.

Musiq still has an entire career in front of him, however, as he indicated to Billboard just before the release of Juslisen. Im not there yet, he said. I have a little ways to go. With Aijuswanaseing, I was on the lawn. Now, Im at the door. Hopefully with my third album, Ill be in the house. The prince of neo-soul has yet to emergeDAngelo came close with 2000s Voodoo but Musiqs singing, songwriting, and producing talent may just get him there before anybody else.

Selected discography

Aijuswanaseing, Def Soul/Island Def Jam, 2000.

Juslisen, Def Soul/Island Def Jam, 2002.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, October 21, 2000; April 13, 2002.

Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2001.

Philadelphia Inquirer, May 8, 2002.

Rolling Stone, June 20, 2002.

USA Today, March 7, 2001; May 9, 2002.

Washington Post, June 1, 2002.

Online

American Music Awards Nominee List: Favorite New ArtistSoul / Rhythm & Blues Music, http://abc.abcnews.go.com/primetime/specials/ama/bios/musiq_soulchild.html (October 7, 2002).

Musiq Official Website, http://www.defsoul.com/musiq/ (October 7, 2002).

Musiq (Soulchild), All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (October 7, 2002).

Steve Knopper

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Musiq." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Musiq." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/musiq

"Musiq." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/musiq

Musiq

Musiq

Singer

Called the "next Stevie Wonder," Musiq is a singer with a smooth touch, a songwriter with soul, and a hunky Philadelphian who favors dark glasses and a goatee. Noted for his idiosyncratic spelling of such album titles as Aijuswanaseing and Juslisen, he told Rolling Stone, "It's almost like how kids spell things, when they first learn their ABCs, it's just how you hear it, how it sounds." He noted wryly that a teacher might think, "All these years I'm trying to teach these kids how to learn proper grammar, only for him to just throw it all to hell."

Musiq joined Madonna, Cher, and Sting in the one-name department shortly before releasing his second solo album in early 2002. The son of a singer and saxophonist for various Philadelphia-area soul bands, he began his career as Musiq Soulchild on the city's streets, a "human beatbox" who mimicked drum machines and hip-hop beats with his voice. In an interview published on the ABC News Web site, he reminisced about those days, saying, "I used to mock my favorite songs on the radio." In his early teens Musiq also performed at open-mike nights at local clubs such as the Five Spot and Wilhelmina's.

Initially Musiq had hoped to perform in an R&B ensemble like Parliament-Funkadelic, until D'Angelo's emergence as a solo artist inspired him to take the same route. His talent spoke for itself, and soon Musiq had a management team and attention from Island Def Jam Records. "Just Friends (Sunny)" landed on the soundtrack for Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and quickly became a hit. By then, record labels were anxious to build on the neo-soul genre, from which D'Angelo and fellow R&B visionaries Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Angie Stone, and Lauryn Hill emerged to sell millions of records.

Like those artists, Musiq drew unashamedly from 1960s and 1970s soul heroes Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Al Green. Depending on his mood, in interviews Musiq either distanced himself from his influences or enthusiastically embraced them. Of his simple, to-the-point songwriting style, he told Billboard: "I learned that from Stevie Wonder. He had that unique ability to tell a story and make it seem so simple and in-your-face, but when you sat back and thought about what he was saying, it was deep s***. I've always admired that about him, so I've adopted that same type of technique when it comes to writing."

Despite its unusual spelling—"I Just Want to Sing" is the helpful parenthetical translation on the CD cover—Aijuswanaseing sold 1.7 million copies and landed three singles in Billboard's R&B/hip-hop top 30. The album's theme was fairly straightforward: women. Musiq and Haggins's songs talked of women who call, women who won't call, women who were once awkward schoolmates, women with caramel skin and chocolate brown lips, women with light green eyes. "Girl don't you know my whole world stops for you," croons a typical sentiment in "My Girl."

Although his record label marketers boasted that Musiq went in a different direction on his sophomore album, the songs cover much of the same territory. Juslisen ("Just Listen"), according to USA Today's Steve Jones, "depicts mating-dance scenarios full of stops, starts and unexpected twists. Listeners are often left wondering where he's going with a musical plotline, and the answer, if he gives one, may unfold in another song." The album closed with a lover-man version of the Beatles classic "Something."

The out-of-nowhere success of Aijuswanaseing boosted Island Def Jam's marketing budget for Musiq's second album and raised the charismatic singer's profile. He appeared on Showtime's Soul Food in early 2002, participated in several major Black Entertainment Television (BET) promotions and, of course, toured. But Juslisen sold disappointingly, going gold, not platinum, and peaking at number 21 on the Billboard pop-album chart before dropping to the low eighties by early fall. Dominating the summer R&B charts instead were rappers such as Nas, Nelly, and Eminem.

Musiq still has his career in front of him, however, as he indicated to Billboard just before the release of Juslisen. "I'm not there yet," he said. "I have a little ways to go. With Aijuswanaseing, I was on the lawn. Now, I'm at the door. Hopefully with my third album, I'll be in the house."

At the end of 2003 Musiq released his third album, Soulstar, and it rose to number 13 on the Billboard 200. Soulstar remained on the chart until May of 2004, and would remain on the Top R&B/Hip Hop albums chart until September. "This is one of the finest contemporary R&B releases of 2003," noted Andy Kellman in All Music Guide, "with both style and substance in good supply." Two singles were issued from the album, "Forthenight" and "Whoknows," and both songs charted. There would be a four-year wait between Soulstar and its followup album, but Musiq remained busy with touring and acting. Between 2003 and 2007 he embarked on four national and international tours. He also switched record labels, leaving Def Jam for Atlantic.

In November of 2006 Musiq issued the lead single, "B.U.D.D.Y.," off his forthcoming Luvanmusiq album, his first album for the new label. "One of Musiq's strong points is his storytelling ability," noted Honorable Media. "He makes his characters come to life, and he does more than just spit generic lines." Lovanmusiq was nominated in the Best R&B album category at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

Speaking in City Beat of Stevie Wonder, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye, artists with whom he has been compared, Musiq noted the importance of finding his own musical path. "To be honest, I don't try to live up to anybody, as far as that's concerned. Don't get me wrong. I've been very inspired by those people. But I don't try to live up to them, because they are who they are. And it doesn't make any sense to try to be them because I will never be able to be them. It's like taking the baton and keeping it moving, just keeping it moving."

For the Record …

Born Taalib Johnson in Philadelphia, PA.

Formerly known as Musiq Soulchild; signed with Island Def Jam, released Aijuswanaseing, 2000; Juslisen, 2002; Soulstar, 2003; left Def Jam Records for Atlantic Records; released Luvanmusiq, 2007; scheduled reissue of Juslisen with bonus tracks, 2008.

Awards: Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards: Top R&B/ Hip-Hop Artist; Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist-New; Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist-Male; and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Artist, 2001; Soul Train Award, Best R&B/Soul Single, for "Love," 2002.

Addresses: Record company—Atlantic Records, 1290 Ave. of the Americas, 28th Fl., New York, NY 10104, telephone: 212-707-2000, Web site: www.atlanticrecords.com.

Selected discography

Aijuswanaseing, Def Soul/Island Def Jam, 2000.

Juslisen, Def Soul/Island Def Jam, 2002.

Soulstar, Def Soul, 2003.

Luvanmusiq, Atlantic, 2007.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, October 21, 2000; April 13, 2002.

Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2001.

Philadelphia Inquirer, May 8, 2002.

Rolling Stone, June 20, 2002.

USA Today, March 7, 2001; May 9, 2002.

Washington Post, June 1, 2002.

Online

"American Music Awards Nominee List: Favorite New Artist—Soul/Rhythm & Blues Music," ABC News, http://abc.abcnews.go.com/primetime/specials/ama/bios/musiq_soulchild.html (October 7, 2002).

"Keep It Moving," City Beat,http://citybeat.com (January 7, 2008).

Musiq Official Web site, http://www.defsoul.com/musiq/ (October 7, 2002).

"Musiq (Soulchild)," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (January 7, 2008).

"Musiq Soulchild-Luvanmusiq Album Review," Honorable Media,http://hmblog.wordpress.com (January 7, 2008).

—Steve Knopper and Ronald D. Lankford, Jr.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Musiq." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Musiq." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/musiq-0

"Musiq." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/musiq-0