The Grammys are still more than a month away, but Raphael Saadiq says he already feels like he's won.
"Selling only 168,000 copies without a push from a record company, to be nominated five times, that was winning to me," the singer said Tuesday.
Saadiq got nods for his solo album, Instant Vintage (Best R&B Album), the single "Be Here" (Best R&B Song and Best Urban/Alternative Performance), and his writing and production on Erykah Badu's "Love of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop)" (Best R&B Song and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media). (Click here for the list of nominees and for photos of this year's Grammy nominees and performers.)
"Just the Erykah [song] shooting up the charts is like, 'Wow,' " he said. "We did it in a couple of days and she did some production on it too. It was just a cool collabo. Everything happened in the right pattern. It's amazing how everything could fall into place. She had some ideas she wanted to use. We came up with some chords, beats. I played the little funky bassline on it.
"She was like, 'I want to hear one of your flutes,' " he continued. "She took it to Dallas and put flutes on it. The lyrics, that was actually her too. You can never tell what's on Erykah's mind. With somebody like Erykah, you want to set a foundation for them, you don't want to paint a picture for them. I think it's better to collaborate."
Raph, who just parted ways with Universal Records, has been so busy writing and producing for other artists, he said he hasn't had time to secure another record deal, let alone begin work on his next album. He's planning to begin working on LPs by T-Boz and Erykah Badu in the next few months and has already been held up in the studio with Nappy Roots, Jaguar Wright and D'Angelo.
"We're like brothers," he said of D'Angelo, who also sings on "Be Here." "It's every day getting up and hanging. For somebody else it might be work, but me and him have been working together since [D'Angelo's 1995 LP,] Brown Sugar. It's like a day of playing ball for me."
He describes his fellow soul man's new album as "real meaty, real phat. A real nice piece. Everything he sings just sounds good. We're like kindred spirits. It sounds like D., classic D."
"I want to work with the Dres of the world — Dr. Dre and Outkast['s Dre]," he continued. "Mary J. and Stevie Wonder, that's just somebody you have to touch, even if it never comes out. I just got to hear it."
Although Saadiq said he'll always work with Joi, he ruled out reforming Lucy Pearl or Tony, Toni, Toné, but he promised that the public will be hearing him in another trio.
"I like groups," he explained. "It's fun to get people in a room and just create. It would be a whole new thing. It will probably be me, Mos Def and somebody else."
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