Following a 90’s R&B and neo-soul explosion that saw these genres spawn more stars than it had ever seen. One artist was about of this explosion, and ushered in a new generation of stars following the new millennium. His name says it all: Musiq Soulchild. The now multi-platinum 43-year-old soul singer has given us hit after hit including “Love”, “Half Crazy”, “So Beautiful” and “Just Friends (Sunny)”.
Although fans are quick to point to a wide range of 90’s R&B artists as legendary, we rarely hear that term bestowed upon artists who debuted in the 2000’s. Musiq Soulchild is one artist who is clearly deserving of that honor.
The Evolution of Musiq Soulchild
The Philadelphia-born Taalib Johnson grew up in a household that provided him with an education in ’70s soul.
His teenage years were spent building a reputation for being musically gifted. He would beatbox for MCs, freestyle on the open mic circuit, scat at jazz clubs, and perform Acappella for strangers on the streets. Coincidentally, his talents gave rise to the name, “Musiq.” He would later add “Soulchild” to his stage name. He cites as his inspiration such icons as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Donny Hathaway as his most influential musical icons. In addition, Johnson would go on to drop out of high school to pursue a career in music;
Musiq Soulchild was discovered out of Philly and rose up in DJ Jazzy Jeff’s A Touch of Jazz soul scene. Soon after being discovered His impact began with his 2000 debut album ‘Aijuswanaseing‘ which is widely praised as a classic. He helped merge the neo-soul sound of the mid 90’s with a more modern R&B/Soul and hip hop edge. An ongoing trend among his hits was how effortlessly he’d been able to make relatable love songs that have always resonated with fans.
Johnson explains where his stage name came from: “There were people who knew of me but they didn’t really know me; they just knew me as ‘that music dude.’ So after getting that so much, I was like ‘Just call me Musiq.’ The stage name “Musiq Soulchild” is technically two ideas. ‘Musiq’ is the frontman and ‘Soulchild’ is the idea behind it. It’s basically me as an artist in this generation, representing the traditions and the legacies of the past soul stars.”
Johnson has been known to write songs that get to the heart of the issue. There really is no fluff. He just sings about what he knows and people have been rocking to his brand of music for years.
Musiq Soulchild was among a crop of R&B artists who arrived during the 2000s owing no debt to the flashy and sexually aggressive sounds that prevailed throughout the prior decade. His signature Philly sound resonated with fans all over making him a household name in the early 2000’s.
His career to date has spanned eight albums, two of which are Platinum and two of which are Gold. In addition, he’s released an impressive amount of hit singles; 15 to be exact. His number of hit singles is a number where most of his peers of the neo-soul era can not come close. Some of his singles include, just in case you forgot; “Just Friends (Sunny)”, “Love”, “Girl Next Door”, “Halfcrazy”, “Dontchange”, “Forthenight”, “Whoknows”, “B.U.D.D.Y.”, and “Teachme.”
The hitmaker is just one of the few artists that that can barely perform them all during his shows.
Additionally, Musiq Soulchild is seen being recognized for his great works, however it’s never been enough. Despite being nominated for a staggering 13 Grammy Awards, his name was never picked as a winner. Nonetheless, Johnson has still accomplished a lot.
What Happened to Musiq Soulchild?
Musiq Soulchild has been been able to survive multiple transitions in his career. In the past two decades, R&B music has evolved in a major way. With that being said, most of his peers have not been able to effectively transition.
By his fourth album, Musiq moved away from working with his original A Touch of Jazz producer core. Coincidentally, this was shortly after the rare and shocking move of effectively-being traded from Def Jam to Atlantic Records to continue his career. Years afterward, he’d be forced to adapt to being an independent artist.
After saying goodbye to the major-label system, Johnson teamed up with Syleena Johnson and producer Kemar McGregor for 9ine; a set of nine contemporary reggae duets recorded during nine days. It was released in September 2013 on the independent Shanachie label.
Even though five years have passed since his previous solo album, he wasn’t forgotten by urban AC radio programmers. The ballad “I Do” became the singer’s tenth Top 20 R&B/hip-hop hit.
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