With timeless ballads such as “Emotional” and “Summer Rain,” R&B crooner Carl Thomas can easily be classified as a staple in modern R&B. His 1999 debut album on Bad Boy Records spawned a bevy of chart-topping singles and was later certified platinum.
But the singer’s life was turned upside down following the release of his sophomore effort when his brother was murdered in a drive-by shooting. The tragic loss thereafter sent the singer on a personal journey of recovery.
Now, seven years and two albums later, Thomas is celebrating the release of his current album Conquer on Verve Records.
The AFRO spoke to Thomas about the album, his past struggles and his life in the music industry.
AFRO: You’ve been in the industry for a considerable amount of time. How have you grown since your debut?
Carl Thomas: With my current album, I honestly didn’t feel the need to change my style. But I did feel a need for my music to grow and stretch the sound. I really feel like I’ve accomplished that. With this album, the appeal of the music is broader and is set up to reach new fans.
AFRO: A few years back, you experienced a big tragedy. What got you through that trying time period?
Carl Thomas: It was just something that spun my family for a loop. It was really a process for me to get back to what I was doing because it definitely altered my life and the decisions that I was making. I got to a point where I really couldn’t say that I loved [making music] anymore. So, I just put my energy into other things until one day I got a call from [producer] Mike City and he asked me to come out to L.A. to do some records. He told me that we don’t have to do them for a purpose…you know, do them [just because]. So, I figured it wasn’t any harm in that. I went on to record with him and the rest is history. I just enjoyed recording again. We later put out my So Much Better project and that’s what really let me know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
AFRO: Shifting gears, let’s talk about Conquer. What was the inspiration for the title of this album?
Carl Thomas: On Conquer, I really just talk about allowing love to do what it does. I was talking about not fighting so hard in areas of relationships where you really don’t have to. The cool thing about the single is that people who listen to it are going to take dual meanings from it.
AFRO: How did you link up with Snoop Dogg on the remix to the single “Don’t Kiss Me?”
Carl Thomas: Snoop and I have been trying to do a record together for a very long time, but we never thought that anybody would understand the contrast. This was just a record where we were at the right place at the right time. He was in the studio and I reached out to him and he was more than glad to do it for me. We’re about to do the video and I’m just looking forward to that experience.
AFRO: What producers did you work with on Conquer?
Carl Thomas: I worked with Mike City and I worked with Andre Harris. I also had a chance to work with my man JR Hutson. My brother Rico Love gave me a single. Heavy D did something for me…I had a lot of talented producers.
AFRO: You can easily be classified as a veteran in R&B music. What’s your opinion on its current status?
Carl Thomas: I think new music ought to be allowed to be new. Just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t understand it. I think there’s a lot of good music out there right now. But with that being said, I don’t think there are a lot of great voices out. People are confusing great songs with great voices. Because of this, I think it’s throwing things into a panic state when it’s not really like that at all. It’s just the present trying to be the present. That’s all.
Conquer is available now. For more information on Carl Thomas, visit: www.carlthomaslive.com.