UB ReVisit: Carl Thomas Talks Emotional, Bad Boy & Catalog Favorites

For this ReVisit, celebrating our favorite interviews in the last 15 years. We’ve selected our interview with Carl Thomas.

Grammy nominated Carl Thomas is a native from Chicago. Who in 1999 became the protégé of Sean “Diddy” Combs, who signed Thomas after hearing him sing at an open mic night in New York City. Carl was the first male heartthrob R&B artist on Bad Boy Entertainment.

Carl Thomas released his first single, the #1 R&B single “I Wish” in February of 2000. The single was Billboard‘s Greatest Gainer/Airplay single, on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and the same week, hit #1on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay.

His debut album, Bad Boy release “Emotional” was released April 18th, 2000. 20 years ago today.

Carl is finishing an documentary entitled “Emotional Behind the Album” coming out this summer. Watch the trailer below.

Also in celebration Carl is doing an intimate performance on Instagram tonight, called “Carl Thomas Presents B-Sides.” Where he will be performing his b-sides, in support of the 20th Anniversary of Emotional.

The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Street-date violations at the time, caused his album to actually debut a week before release, at #100 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The album over all, was a critical and commercial success, selling nearly 2 million copies.

Outside of Diddy, Mario Winans, Mike City, the legendary Gordon Chambers & Karl Gordon, Chucky Thompson and Deric “D. Dot” Angelettie all contributed.

When Thomas crooned “I wish I had never met her,” with equal parts pleading and regret, women found his white-wine cool vocals and Marvin Gaye meets Nat King Coleper se sex appeal irresistible. While guys immediately identified with his worldly yet around the way lyricism and spot-on relationship observations.

Carl Thomas experienced the type of success with his first song that most artists never touch during their entire careers. “I Wish,” with its universal theme of lost love, is now a part of a songwriting canon. It’s a feat not lost on the singer.

“I came out of the box and entered the Great American Songbook with ‘I Wish’. That’s what made it so special. There was no working up to it. I remember being in the studio with Jay-Z (who sampled “I Wish” for his hit 2000 song “I Just Wanna Love You (Give It To Me)” featuring Pharrell) and he told me: ‘Whatever happens, remember that your debut album is one of the best foundations an R&B artist could ever ask for.’ I know now that when people talk about the album they are really referring to their personal connection to it.”

The entire album is a solid debut for such a young artist at the time. The release also included the hit single “Summer Rain” and the midnight storm title track.

Carl Thomas instantly transformed from a Chicago native son singing for his supper into both an in-demand lothario and the voice of masculine romance for an entire generation.

Carl has since released three more album releases and a new album is expected this year.

In 2012, in support of his last album release “Conquer.” Aries from UB spoke to Carl about his 90s influenced debut album, the college of Bad Boy and his favorite songs from his catalog.

Carl also told us who some of his favorite artists are right now.


UrbanBridgez.com: What’s like one goal that you want to achieve with this album that you may not have achieved with the previous releases?
Carl Thomas: That’s a good question, because I haven’t set any goals for this album beyond expanding the borders of my past. I really haven’t set any goals beyond that, so my main goals with this album is for it to be the soundtrack behind peoples lives. Beyond the borders of black music. You know what’s so funny about the past eras is no matter what type of music you listened to back then, everybody needed an Al Green, everybody needed that!

UrbanBridgez.com: What will fans get out of this album that we may not have gotten from the last one?
Carl Thomas: You know, this album exudes a certain confidence that the last one didn’t really produce. There is a certain confidence and there is a certain relaxation with this project. It’s like if I was in a boxing match it would be like I’m just having fun and letting my hands go (laughs). I’m not playing a whole lot of defense on this album, I’m playing a whole lot of offense (laughs). 

UrbanBridgez.com: We’re actually celebrating 90’s R&B this month on UB and you debuted in somewhat that era when you came out in 2000.
Carl Thomas: Yeah my album “Emotional” is definitely the son of that. I didn’t get the opportunity to come out in the 90’s but my music is definitely a combination of what I interpreted from that era. People can feel that when they listen to it, even now. I would still say my music is just a modern day interpretation of what they were doing.

UrbanBridgez.com: No doubt! That leads into my question, I wanted to know what is your biggest obstacle staying current but trying to stay true to your sound?
Carl Thomas: I don’t think it is an obstacle, I think the trick for most artists is capitalizing on what it is that works about your formula. There’s a component to your music that made you successful! Every artists that has tasted a certain level, there is a component to your music that makes you successful. The key as an artist, knowing what that is in their own music and capitalizing off that. There’s a lot of artists that have achieved longevity because they have managed to do that. Like listen to Outkast, listen to their catalog. They tapped in to what people liked about their music and they stood on top of that, album after album. You know what I’m saying, that is harder to do than what most people believe it is. A lot of artists you listen to and they say they haven’t been the same since this or that, whatever it is. And maybe that’s true, whatever it is they were doing then, they’re not in that space anymore.


UrbanBridgez.com: You were brought in on Bad Boy of all places as well!
Carl Thomas: Absolutely! I have to be honest, that is the greatest college of like the music business I’ve ever seen. I don’t really know of another situation that labels really see the vision thru. They sign an artist and they have a vision for them, very few labels actually finish that vision. Unless they’re smart enough to have a real live partnership with the artist. Then they can consolidate their goals as far as building artists. Of course it’s about making that bread first (laughs).

UrbanBridgez.com: What’s like your top favorite songs from your catalog?
Carl Thomas: My top 3 favorite songs from my catalog would have to be, #1 “You Ain’t Right” from Emotional. “Baby Maker” from Let’s Talk About It and “Home” from So Much Better. Those are definitely my top three!

UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of your favorite artist right now to listen to?
Carl Thomas: Some of my favorite artists right now, I’m enjoying and having a ball watching Chris Brown. I really don’t think Chris gets the credit for being the complete package that he really deserves. And that may be for one reason or another, but whatever. When there are certain talents, that black community is suppose to recognize those talents. You know we live in a society that loves to celebrate mediocrity. The cookie jar in entertainment is on such a low shelf that everybody is able to have a cookie. All you have to do is have a beat and some fly auto-tunes and everybody can have a cookie. So when something is really exceptional we try to marginalize that, instead of celebrate it! There are a lot more artists out there I’m loving like Ledisi, I love Jill Scott’s new stuff. I’m waiting on my brother Anthony Hamilton’s new stuff. I just downloaded Tyrese’s new album yesterday and I’m really proud of him. Because he did that on his own man, he put that project together his-self. That really says a lot and big ups to him, he’s always been my brother and shows me nothing but love and admiration. He’s definitely deserving of all his success that he’s getting right now.


Originally published on 18th April 2020, you can read the original article at Urban Bridgez © 2020

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