The legendary Keith Sweat is back with new music for summer ’16.
Dropping an album on his 55th birthday—July 22—Keith is bringing back the classic sound fans have come to know and love. Called Dress to Impress, the album has already given way to a single currently atop the R&B charts (“Good Love”) and Sweat is set to take the album on tour.
As one who considers himself an “OG” in the R&B music world, Keith has had his eye on the new wave of artists and musicians: he’s a big fan of artists like Chris Brown and Ne-Yo.
We spoke to Keith about the current state of R&B and what fans can expect from his latest release.
How would you describe the new album?
I think there are some things on there fans can expect from me, but also some records they wouldn’t expect, either. When you have an album, I think you should have a variety of songs and sounds. For the most part, it’s my classic sound fans have come to know, but there’s fresh material on there as well.
What influences your classic sound?
I’ve always been involved in my music as far as writing and producing goes. I’m very hands on. My music is an extension of who I am and what I am. I definitely involve myself as much as possible in terms of defining the character and sound of the album. I think some artists let others write and create their album, and you can tell they’re not saying what they really have to say. When you hear it, you can rest assured that it’s me telling my story.
Who are some ‘new age’ R&B artists whose music you’re feeling?
I love Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz and Luke James, to name a few. I love the things that they’re doing with their music and creating their own sound. I think I’m one of the people that opened the doors for artists like them and to see them reference me in some of their songs makes me feel good. I also admire their talent and artistry so it’s amazing to see how they’re growing. It’s an awesome thing to see young artists like them inspired by me and others who came before them and those who came before me, and how they’re making their own mark.
If anything, what do you feel R&B is missing?
I used to think there was a lot missing, but now I think it’s getting back to its core. People are starting to come back full circle to what real R&B is. I think young artists, for a certain period, were branching out and going far away from what R&B was, but I think that it’s coming back. Tyrese, Anthony Hamilton and others like myself revived the genre and the young artists are starting to bring it. Young artists like to experiment, which is great. But I can tell real R&B was missed and they’re starting to come back.
What do you most look forward to about touring?
I like the connection with the fans and also being in front of the audience. I think that connection is so important. Seeing how something I’ve written affects people and the joy it can bring to them brings joy to me. It’s different than being in the studio creating because you can see how people respond to what you create. Music is something that touches everybody and with so many performers now, I can see how I’ve affected other people’s lives. It’s amazing when I get to see people really feel my music. It’s a whole different thing musically to perform in front of an audience.
What they should look out for from you in the coming months?
People have really responded to the first single, so they can expect the rest of the album to be just as sultry. There’s amazing songs on there. I think people will be pleasantly surprised. Like I said, my classic sound is there but I do have some material on there that’s a little different. As far as shows and things, I just take it one step at a time. I respond based on how my fans respond to me. It’s a journey we take together.