Bilal: 'Airtight's Revenge was a Therapy... A Way for Me to Deal'

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When Bilal's debut album 1st Born Second was released in 2001, things were looking bright for the soul/jazz musician's solo career. As a member of the Soulquarians, Bilal brought his voice not only to the collective's all-star lineup, but also to the numerous albums its members would go on to produce.

But when his sophomore follow up Love For Sale was all but abandoned by Interscope Records (the album was eventually leaked on Internet in 2006), Bilal turned to the one thing he knows best to get through it all: his music.

The result is Airtight's Revenge,his second (or, more accurately, third) solo offering. Released in September by indie label Plug Research, Bilal recently hit the road in support of the album. He will headline the Commonwealth Lounge in Fullerton on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Heard Mentality caught up with Bilal while on the road for a quickie.

OC Weekly (Justin Shady): You've been a guest on the albums of tons of artists, yet your newest album (Airtight's Revenge) is your first official commercial solo outing in nearly 10 years. Is having your own album more fulfilling than being a guest on someone else's album?
Bilal: It's all a creative process. I love creating. I was just in LA and while there I cut a track with Om'Mas Keith, (Erykah) Badu and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and another with Daedelus. I do my best to keep creative at all times. None of us knew that Love For Sale wasn't coming out when we were working on it. Everyone keeps saying I've been absent from doing this for ten years, but while we were cutting Love For Sale it was with the intention of releasing it. My feelings were the same as when cutting 1st Born Second. The difference between those two albums and Airtight's Revenge is that I did Airtight's Revenge as therapy and a remedy for myself. Plug Research just happened to really like it, but it was originally made as a way to bring myself back to a good creative and personal space.

As stated above, Airtight's Revenge was a therapy of sorts; a way for me to deal with the "debacle." It's also me growing up. I was still very young when I made Love For Sale.

Does it feel good to be back in control of an entire album again?

I was always in control of the production of Love For Sale and 1st Born Second. I guess the only difference was post-production. It does feel good to have full creative freedom.

If anyone knows firsthand how screwed up the record industry has become it's you. What's wrong with the industry and what can artists do to not contribute to it? Is there truly any real way around it?

That's an interesting question; each situation is interesting. I'm at a small indie label now and I have much more control; not just creatively, but overall. I think it's always on the artist. We choose our own representation and make a conscious effort to either accept the direction they want us to be going in or to create it. I learned a lot of lessons but none that have made me bitter or upset. These lessons have made me a wiser and more open man. I approach things differently now.

What has the reaction to Airtight's Revenge been? Are you happy with the feedback so far?

So far so good. Some fans are a little uptight 'cause they wanted (tracks like) "Soul Sista" or "Sometimes." Other fans are totally happy to see me do me. I think overall it's been very good. I am happy.

Even though Love For Sale is available if you know where to look for it, is there any chance that it will ever have a true proper release?

I've personally let that album go. It would be great if Interscope let it out. I did another nine tracks at the time for that album that no one has ever heard; tracks I really loved.

Will fans have to wait another nine years before your next solo album or do you already have plans for a follow-up to "Airtight's Revenge"?

I want to fully promote this album and tour with it for awhile, then I will get back in the studio. My creative juices are flowing rather nicely now. Fans shouldn't have to wait another nine years, but it will take the amount of time that it takes.

Who: Bilal w/ DJ Jay P, Bobby Soul and more
Where: The Commonwealth Lounge, Fullerton
When: Wednesday, October 27
Cost: $12

Visit CommonwealthLounge.com
for more info.

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