You can definitely name his tune as soon as the beat drops. It’s a phenomenon, seriously. People run to the dancefloor, line up in a perfect block and start going to the right almost on cue. You’ve probably done it a dozen times. It’s the Cupid Shuffle, which is also the name of Cupid’s ingenious first major single. Well, it’s finally time to meet the man behind the biggest line dance since the Cha Cha Slide. Cupid is more than his signature tune. He’s a vocalist and with his latest album, Feel Good Music, he wants to prove that. He’s opened for legendary artists like Frankie Beverly & Maze and Earth, Wind and Fire, and that’s exactly the type of sound he wants to introduce to a younger generation.
You have an album and mixtape out. Tell me about those.
My very first project is called Time For a Change. That was pre-Obama. It was weird that it was like the slogan for the election. My first album was like every other artist–you get your first one and the record company dictates what’s on the project and your singles. Anything outside of the first single, I didn’t get a good opportunity to define who I was as an artist because everything went so fast. “Cupid Shuffle” was released independently and the next thing you know, it’s on YouTube with a million hits, then I’m signing a record deal, recording an album and that’s what it was. The first album was a good album. I had Aubrey from Danity Kane up there, T Payne–it did what it did. My mixtape, 21 and Up, it started defining who I am as an R&B singer. A lot of people didn’t know that I don’t autotune. I sing for real. That’s my everlasting task. I just want people to know that this kid can really sing and I have talent. I can make hit songs outside of the typical dance records.
That’s also something I was curious about. Because you’ve been successful with dance music, do you feel people know you’re a singer?
When I got signed, the lady who helped me get where I was, she asked me if I realized what was going to happen when it all comes out. Being poor, you’re not going to say, “I’m not going to take a deal for this one song because it’s going to define me;” you get in there and do it. It’s been tough, but it’s a blessing. The foundation of my career is based on one of the best dance songs of all time. As long as I continue to push and keep going, eventually people will start to say, “This kid’s been around. We need to give him a shot to see what he’s about.” I’m trying to stay positive and keep moving to let the work speak for itself.
Your next album, Feel Good Music–what, other than the obvious can we expect to hear?
My favorite artists of all time, musically are Frankie Beverly & Maze, Charlie Wilson and Earth, Wind & Fire. I’ve been able to open up for every last one of them guys. Those are legends. I’m just trying to be the younger version of those guys. My music has a lot of feel good to it. You can play it at family reunions and kick back and enjoy the family. It’s smooth and classic. I know that’s not the norm, but as I grow older, the only thing that is guaranteed is that–getting older. One thing I have learned from those guys, they tell me, “Young man, you have a foundation. You can be like us if you continue to work and stay true to what you believe in with music and give good music.” It’s not always the popular Top 40 stuff, but it’s something that sticks to the rib. People love family-oriented, fun, solid music. I want to be 59/60 years old, talking about, “Y’all remember this?”
What do you call your sound?
I call it timeless music. It’s not a part of the normal fad. It’s just good music. My manager calls it club music. They say it’s the type of stuff you two-step to in the club with your girl. It’s not too slow, but it bounces. If I could be anywhere near Charlie Wilson… That’s the kind of music I grew up listening to and love to make.
You do have that old school feel to your sound. It makes you very different from other male singers we have out now. How do you feel about other male singers out that are more popular–Trey Songz, Usher, Miguel…
They fill all the spots of R&B that could be filled. Usher has that MJ thing going on and he’s definitely a legend of our time. Trey Songz is a little R. Kelly. I appreciate all of that for everything they do. I’m just filling in the gaps for the soulful R&B, but not traditionally Neo-Soul. I’m more of that Funk/Soul/R&B/Blues vibe. I love those cats though. I have all their CD’s in the iPod. I’m a big fan of Raheem DeVaughn, Jazmine Sullivan–I love her and want to take her to dinner. [laughs] Everybody’s got their own spot. Hopefully I can get a spot on that large of a scale so people can know me.
With the new album, you want to prove to people that you’re more than dance music. Do you have tracks that are more vocal than dance?
**read Cupid’s response and the rest of his interview here**