R&B Sensation Maxwell Dishes On His Final Trilogy Album & His Standard Of Beauty

MaxwellPhoto Credit: Shorefire

The wait is almost over as Maxwell has completed the final album in his much loved trilogy BLACKsummers’night. While we won’t be able to check out the full album until next year, just a couple of weeks ago, he gave fans a hint of what to expect from his NIGHT album with the powerful release of the video for “Shame.”

Right now, Maxwell is in the midst of his “50 Intimate Nights Live” tour, a 50-date trek that wraps up next month in New York. The multi-Grammy-winning soul singer will debut new material during these intimate shows alongside his critically acclaimed hits.

We caught up with Maxwell yesterday to discuss his recently released single from the third album in his R&B trilogy and putting out a song that never goes away.

Just a couple of weeks ago, you released the powerful video for your latest single “Shame.” Was your goal to challenge the standards of beauty?

Beauty is a standard that has never been a challenge, but has been challenging for some people who look a certain way. I was blown away by it. The goal is to talk to people of all races, but in particular, black women. There has been so much body shaming with the Internet lately, so it’s nice to have a conversation that it’s OK to be human. You can evolve and take that mask off and learn who you need to be. It can be heavy out there sometimes. This played a deciding factor for me with the first song. There is a high suicide rate going on and kids are feeling bullied digitally. They don’t realize the standard of beauty they put themselves up to doesn’t exist. Most images in magazines have been retouched and that’s not even how they look. That’s not their house or boat they are standing in front of. I really feel for all of the kids I talk to today. I have been plagued with hacking, people pretending to be me. It definitely goes on.

“Shame” is a hit off the third album in your R&B trilogy. How did you come up with the initial idea of producing an album trilogy?

I was really excited about it. A lot of things played into the trilogy. I had three albums on Columbia and wanted to close that cycle of the deal so to speak. It started in 2003 and came to light in 2008. I have been pushing that stone up the hill 10 years later. A lot of songs I wrote five or six years ago. If I can still listen to it, I can see it has the potential to never leave the radio. The goal is to put out a song that never goes away (laughs).

Which of these three albums are you most proud of?

They each have a special place in my heart for different reasons. Singles like “Playing Possum” came about at a time when I had lost my grandmother and cousin to unexpected deaths. Every era of the trilogy is a song that encapsulates a certain time of my life. That’s why with “Shame,” the topic laid the right foundation for what people are dealing with and what people are concerned with in terms of trust.

Who have been some of your musical inspirations along the way?

Prince was a pioneer for me. I also love Marvin Gaye, Sade and so many others. There are also so many bands today that make me want to get up and do stuff. There are so many choices today when it comes to music.

You’re on tour for your “50 Intimate Nights Live” and we’re lucky to have you coming to Boston in a few weeks. Can you tell us a little bit about the tour itself and what we can expect?

We have done 27 shows already out of 50 and will be playing the songs that have celebrated milestones like Embrya (this year is the 20th anniversary of its release). It’s also about celebrating a new chapter. Anything that brings people together is a beautiful thing to watch. There are so many voices to be heard. I am excited to be coming to Boston next month. R&B lives there. People love it. It’s like bringing water to the desert (laughs). I can’t wait to be there. I will be bringing my coat, but I’ll be there!