Into the mid-’90s surplus bump-and-grind soul men party came Maxwell, a sensitive, sententious and spiritual 22-year-old ready to flip the script on the player mentality. MTV News met up with the singer this week in 1996 to find out what he was all about.
“I think the idea of monogamy is so edgy nowadays because it’s not so done,” Maxwell said. “It’s the thing no one is really into.”
Maxwell’s debut album, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, recalled a single evening of courtship and love, told song by song.
” ‘Sumthin’ Sumthin’ ‘ is in many ways the superficial part of the whole thing,” he explained. “You know when you see a girl in a club, you basically step up to her and you’ll say like the real corny stuff. That’s what I did when I saw this lady. I was just feeling her. ‘… Til the Cops Come Knockin’ ‘ — I guess it’s kind of facetious to say it’s self-explanatory but I can say that it just represents a long period of lovemaking.”
Maxwell’s preferred method of sharing his vision of love was through his live performances.
“I like the idea of bringing the music to the people in the way that it is in the live experience,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t mater what you like to love. It doesn’t matter what you like to wear, where you come from. You put people in a room together and you put on the jam of the week or the jam of the decade and they’re like ready and they’re like one.”
It had been one year since Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill first hit the album charts, and, 9 million copies later, the former #1 LP was still firmly entrenched in the top five. Those sales numbers allowed Alanis to move up from 100-seat clubs to venues that accommodate thousands, like the one she was playing when MTV News grabbed her for a quick chat about road life.
“What I had to learn along with just the survival aspect of [being on the road] was also how to be a leader on the road and look out for the team that you put together that are with you out there,” Morissette said. “You all have to look out for each other on a professional level and on a personal level. It’s sort of like you’re going to camp and you’re the camp counselor.”
Most camp counselors don’t have a hit album in almost every corner of the globe, but when it came to looking at her spectacular chart numbers, Alanis said she leaves that for the corporate types.
“That’s what motivates them when they get out of bed in the morning, but it’s not what motivates me,” she said. “I’m just focusing in my own little world and on my creative growth and learning how to play guitar better than I do and those kinds of things. Those things excite me — I don’t even know where [the album] is on the charts.”
Cleveland’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony were dominating the pop charts with “Tha Crossroads,” their song about the loss of a loved one, back in 1996. The track’s remix was a major departure for the rap collective, which wrote the original album cut for its late mentor, Eazy-E, who died of AIDS in March of ’95.
“It was like a blow to us, man,” the group’s Layzie Bone said. “We was living like a fantasy just now getting on into the rap world, then like boom, E was gone … our mentor was gone.”
“So it kind of felt like it was all over,” Wish Bone added. “You know what I’m saying? We lost somebody. It was just off the hook.”
While their 1995 album, E. 1999 Eternal, took off, the group experienced even more loss, including Wish Bone’s uncle and Krayzie’s cousin. Those tragedies inspired Bone Thugs to remix “Tha Crossroads” and add new lyrics.
“We remixed it because during the success, we was losing a lot of people, so we knew we had to do it again and mention some more people,” Wish Bone said. “Plus, [we wanted to] put it out there as a single so everybody could feel it.”
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