FEATURE: Slim: Cloud 9

Since the days of 112’s “Only You,” fans have become accustomed to watching Slim belt out ‘tunes alongside his fellow Bad Boy band mates. This summer, though, people were pleasantly surprised when he took off solo with the release of his single “So Fly.”

This Southern Gentleman has more tricks up his tailored sleeve, too. He reunited with former label mates Diddy and Faith for his upcoming release Love’s Crazy. And he’s even penning a love column on AOL.

While he’s busy fulfilling his new revitalizing role as a love guru, Slim still had time to shell out advice by earnestly revealing what he, and most men, find troubling to say to their significant others. In this one-on-one with XXLmag.com Slim discussed the road that paved the way for his mature outlook on love, shared past times with Diddy, and detailed the experience that launched his deal with Asylum.

XXLMag.com: How does a nice R&B singer such as yourself end up on an independent rap label like Asylum?

Slim: Shouts to Shakir Stewart [Senior Vice President of Def Jam], you know we’re boys. He was like, “I get your music.” I’ve been in the major system for so long, it was just becoming monotonous. I want to do something my way, my own imprint. He made the phone call to Joie, Joie sent Sickamore to Atlanta to hear the music. You should have seen this whole episode. I’m driving up, Sickamore stands out in front of the spot, he sits in the back of the car and says, “Play me some music.” I play the first record, and the first record must have got him. He is trying his best in the car like “Okay, go to the next one.” Next song was “So Fly.” He has his brim over the eyes, “Could you go back to the first one, okay.” Then he goes back inside to get the CD. He must have played it for the people he had inside. He comes back, and says “Come up.”

That sounds like some secretive stuff going on. Some Mafia type stuff? When we go inside he had his whole street team. He was like “Your music really sounds good.” So that’s how things got started. I didn’t really want to do a solo project, but I did want to start my own label. Everybody knows that I have a distinctive sound, working with 112. To get the ball rolling it’s easy, so that’s why I came with Love’s Crazy. But I have other projects coming. I’m working with Faith. I am working with a nineteen-year-old rapping sensation, Diesel aka Fresh money. I have my group Ivy League. I am doing an album with 8Ball of 8Ball & MJG; we call it Fatboy Slim: The movie. We are bringing the best worlds of both worlds, Memphis and Atlanta. We are coming together.

XXL: You and Faith have a song together on this album; did working together in the studio bring back any old memories of early days with the Bad Boy family?

Slim: I forgot how extremely talented she is, explosive! When the juices got flowing it was like, Whoa! I was thinking she was going to sing, and it was going to run parallel. She flipped it her way. I had to change my stuff around, both of us hitting it together, man that was crazy. I saw that flavor. She’s still got it. She said after the whole thing, “if I’m to come out with music I want to do it the way you’re doing it.” I was like, “for real, cause we can make that happen.” She is inspired; she got songs, and she is writing again it’s like the old Faith.

XXL: How was your experience different from Faith’s at Bad Boy?

Slim: Puff, that’s my dog. We didn’t want to leave Bad Boy at all. It was a situation where we were signed to a production company; it was a production deal that tied us into Bad Boy, it was rough. Puff gave this guy an administrative deal so that, you know, whoever he signs goes under his production thing or whatever. So when we fulfilled our production thing it was like we were kind of at odds with the production company and then come to find out we were already out of the production deal. It kind of pulled us off of Bad Boy, but we were never really signed to Bad Boy. Puff made a business decision, you know, whatever and we made ours. That’s why we respect each other even now. I just talked to him last night he is going to be on my album. We are family, we are brothers, it’s love.

XXL: Throughout the years we’ve heard you sing about love and romance with 112. Now as a solo artist, having matured, do you still look at love the same way you did when you first started? Everybody knows that love is crazy. I don’t care where you are in your life. A thug, corporate, rich, poor, middle-class, love is in your life. I’ve done songs where you’re crying please come back to me, I’ve did wrong, not this record. I’m saying stuff that maybe the guy doesn’t really know how to say, or feels like he is too hard to say. I am being very honest with myself, [the song] “Sweet Baby,” I am writing a letter to this girl like, “I’m taking this time to let you know how I feel/ let you know that my love is real….” It felt the same way when I was fifteen, sixteen-years-old. And it feels the same way right now. That’s probably why the songs were very legitimate, even though 112 at a time was really sixteen, seventeen, eighteen when we dropped. I was a tormented soul at that time. I was involved in a relationship and it was something I didn’t want to let go. Some of those songs came from that experience. As you get older we experience more good, or bad. You make your diagnosis of the situation, hone in on what we experience, and then draw different conclusions from it.

XXL: So how do the songs fare on Love’s Crazy compared to your past work in a group?

Slim: The topics are more interesting with Love’s Crazy. When we were recording songs I used to get angry. Puff used to love it. He knew I was tormented. He knew I was going through a relationship. Diddy would say, “What’s wrong with you Slim? Just go in the studio,” because he knew. Now I kind of touch on it, but I am a bit more mature, in that I’m not going to argue with you, not through song. The universe is supposed to make you feel good, and you’re supposed to draw a great conclusion at the end of it. I acknowledge (conflicts in a relationship). What are we going to do about it? And where are we going to go? That’s what Love’s Crazy is. -Rosario Velasquez