NEW YORK — You think it's been a long time since [artist id="502642"]Eminem[/artist] dropped an album? Shoot, the last time [artist id="817"]Maxwell[/artist] put out an LP, [artist id="1230523"]Kanye West[/artist] wasn't even that well known as a producer, let alone a rapper. [artist id="860639"]50 Cent [/artist]was an unsigned artist just heating up the streets with mixtapes. [artist id="1225081"]T.I.[/artist] was just known in the trap.
Now was released eight years ago. That was then.
Today, Maxwell seems so relaxed and even more humble than the admittedly shy singer (shy offstage, that is) has ever been. He's sorry if he disappointed fans who have been waiting almost a decade for one of the most soulful and popular singers of the '90s to put out new material. Max, who was 23 when he introduced the world to his classic debut Urban Hang Suite in 1996, says his time off was spent living and enjoying life.
On Tuesday night at the Sony building, Maxwell reintroduced himself. He's releasing three albums over three years called Black, Summer's and Night. Don't be confused: It's a trilogy.
"Three sides of my crazy personality," Maxwell explained of the albums. "Black is dark. Summer's is the lighter side. That album is more of a gospel side — not in the traditional sense, but more like Deepak Chopra meets that minister or that pastor down in the South somewhere. The Night album is ... the ultimate love record.
"I always wanted to do this," he continued. "This was a plan for about six years, and we worked all those songs out. I'm excited to see how people take each record and how they experience each record."
The first single from Black is "Pretty Wings," which Max described as "a bittersweet love song about meeting the right girl at the wrong time."
So what are some of the other songs like? "We got 'Bad Habits,' which is about being addicted to a girl, being addicted to a relationship that's not good for you. But it feels so good that it can't be wrong.
"It's the paradox, the dichotomy that propels me," he said about his inspiration. "I love the polar-opposite things. We live that every day. The double standards. We have that in our lives every day. One thing's good for one but not good for the other. Those are the things that inspire me and the records. At the same time, I don't like to tell people what it all means. I want you to find your own meaning in what I do. It makes it more special to me when I know that. For the many letters I've gotten, people telling me, 'Your song was at my wedding.' It doesn't matter what I thought at the point [of writing the song]. At that point, your bride was walking down the aisle, and I was singing. That, to me, is like, 'Wow.' "
Black is due in July, while Summer's and Night are scheduled for release in 2010 and 2011, respectively.