When I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 my cousin, introduced me to his college roommate Rochad Holiday from the R&B group Something For The People. If you are a fan of 1990’s and 2000’s R&B music, you have probably heard some of their material. The R&B group and Production team helped launch the career of singer Neyo, produced most of Brandy’s first album and has worked with countless other in the last twenty years. Earlier this week, I had a chance to speak with “Ro” about his humbling beginnings and the current state of R&B music.
How did you get started in the music industry?
Music has always a major part of my life. In high school I played sports, but I was also involved in the band as well. I started of playing the saxophone and then I learned the drums and the piano.
Which instrument is your favorite?
I would have to say the drums.
How did ‘Something For The People’ start?
At the time, I was fresh out of college working in promotions at MCA Records and a mutual friend introduced us. We were all on the same vibe musically so that was the beginning of the group.
How many years did you guys work together before you released “My Love Is The Shhh!”?
It’s funny because we were ‘Something For The People’ the group and then we were ‘Something For The People’ the production team. We really called producing and writing our day job. We started in 1990, and our first album didn’t actually come out until 1996. In that time span we had three record deals, and two of those times we never made it out.
Who were those deals with?
We first signed with Capitol in 1992. And then, Capitol lost their black music department and we signed to RCA in 1993. The lady the signed us to RCA became the VP at Warner Brothers, and she took us and Eric Benet with her.
Can you explain your songwriting process to me?
Back in the day we were just content with being in the mix with what was going on. When we first started Teddy Riley and the “New Jack Swing” was really prominent, so we were happy to be able to do “New Jack Sing.” Over the course of a few years, we started to develop our own sound and things started to happen organically for us. We would put a track together and Fuzzy the lead singer would do most of the vocals and writing. We never really had any pre thought concepts, we would just write.
The one time we did have a concept, we wrote “My Love Is The Shhh!,” which was our biggest hit. Our concept was about a guy bragging about how good his love is, and a girl responding about how good her love was.
That record had an element of New Jack Swing to it?
Yes, Teddy had a lot of influence on us but honestly at that time that record has a little bounce to it. We were really fans of the southern Hip Hop scene, and we were one of the first R&B groups to incorporate bounce music into R&B.
What projects are you most proud of?
The first record that we worked on that actually came out was the “Give It Up, Turn It Loose” by En Vogue. That one is very dear to me, because it was the first time I heard our work on the radio. After that, I would say working on Brandy’s first album really put us on the map and of course Something For The People is special to me. Another special one which was very cool was “Just the Two of Us” with Will Smith. That record did really did well and were in the video as well. Another one, was Georgy Porgy with Eric Benet and Faith Evans. Working with Neyo was special as well, because It was the beginning of a new decade and his sound was really fresh.
Lets talk about that, because that was around the time we first met. How did you end up meeting Neyo?
My partner Sauce met Neyo in the Studio, Neyo was just tight. He could arrange vocals, write and sing. At the time, I had a home studio and he would come over and we would just work on music all day. Till this day, Neyo is still one of the most talented songwriters I know.
What do you think about the state of R&B?
In terms of its popularity it’s on the down cycle right now, because Pop is the dominant sound. You find more R&B singers crossing over and doing a lot of Pop music, but I’m not mad at it because music changes every decade. R&B was really dominant in the 90’s, but not anymore. Even Hip Hop has transformed into a different sound. Traditional R&B as we know it really doesn’t exist, but eventually things will continue to evolve and it will come back around.
Have you heard Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange?”
I happened to work with Frank Ocean when he still going by Lonnie Breaux. Frank is talented and he’s a smart kid. He has a some traditional R&B sound, but he has some elements of Pop and Hip Hop infused in his music. I’m really happy for him right now.
After so many years in the game, what gets you excited about music right now?
I like when people experiment and do different things. It’s a new artist name Allan Stone that is really doing some cool things. I like Frank Ocean. I’m just a fan of music man!
What is the best advice you would give and aspiring producer or songwriter?
Before you step into the arena, you have to understand how the business work. If you were going into the hamburger business, you should know how that business works. Do some research and understand how things work. Know what the royalty rate is. Never walk into a business that you know nothing about.