R&B runs deep in the veins of Adrian Daniel.
The Brooklyn artist released his stellar album 'FLAWD' earlier in the year, a wonderful depiction of R&B's possibilities, while remaining true to its past.
A lucid, vastly original record, it rightly placed Adrian Daniel at the centre of a nexus of artists re-vamping R&B for 2018 audiences.
Slick and soulful, his work still carries that key element of grit, while his songwriting is never afraid to deep-dive into the personal.
Clash caught up with Adrian Daniel to explore his R&B roots, the sources of a life-long fascination with one of America's central art-forms...
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Michael Jackson - 'Wanna Be Starting Something'
Michael Jackson is one of the main reasons I sing. I was captivated by his voice and the way he performed. I would do my best impersonation of his voice and moves as a kid.
I had a high voice as a singer and there weren’t that many male singers with high voices but singing Michael songs always felt the most comfortable for me. He helped me find my falsetto. This song in particular influenced me heavy. His tone and character in the record is next level. He was saying things that was wild too, he was calling people vegetable and saying 'he ha'.
This song is challenging people and telling them to be responsible for their actions and be better people. The bridge of this song is my favourite part when he says “I believe in me, so you believe in you” and then goes in to that chant, that is genius level writing and singing. Michael's songs were literally teaching me to be a better human being.
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Stevie Wonder - 'Living For The City'
Stevie Wonder taught me how to write songs. His imagery and melody and attention to detail in songs are genius. ‘Living for the city’ blew me away when I first heard it.
To hear him talk about black people in that way and explain the hardships that we still go through to this day was beautiful. Then to hear him switch voices to articulate the pain and anger that people were feeling was next level. I had never heard anything like that before.
Stevie made me think about the song and the story while also making a song that will get stuck in your head. He made me want to write songs.
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Usher - 'Confessions Part II'
I'm just gonna on the record and say that Usher's 'Confessions' is one of the best R&B/hip-hop albums of all time. I’m a huge usher fan and when I heard 'Confessions, Part 1&2', I fully believed he had a child. That's what made this song and album so great you absolutely believed him.
The way Usher communicates this story is brilliant and smooth as hell. As a songwriter I was caught up in the story and as a singer I was practising the vocal runs he displayed throughout the song. He is a legend for a reason.
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Sade - 'No Ordinary Love'
Sade captivated me with her presence. I felt her voice in my ribs. What made her such a genius was her songs had this poetry to it that I spent a long time studying. 'No Ordinary Love' and all of her songs actually showed me I could talk about my pain. It showed me to embrace it.
When I hear this song I feel as if I’m right there with here while she's going through it because I’ve been through it too. What I love about her the most was that there was this mystery to her so you experienced her life in her songs.
That's how she communicated her life story, no Instagram, no Twitter, just beautiful songs that last longer than a post or tweet. She taught me to have a boundary between my personal life and the my artistic life when it comes to what I share with the public.
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Frank Ocean - 'American Wedding'
Frank Ocean liberated my thinking. He showed me to not be afraid of my ideas but to embrace them and execute them even if you are the only person who can see the end goal. Frank showed me and probably many artists that genre was a thing of the past. Just make the music you hear in your head; forget what you should call it, just make sure that you feel it.
When I first heard this song l cried. I had already heard and loved the original song, ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles, but this version struck a chord that has been with me till this day. The story of love in America. I had felt this before, this pain I felt.
I could clearly see the characters he had laid before me in this song and it was gut wrenching. Then to hear Frank's vocal go into the guitar solo by Don Felder is out of this world; Truly beautiful. He continues to inspire me and its an honour when people compare my music to his.
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Adrian Daniel's new album 'FLAWD' is out now.
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