12:45pm. I sit anxiously in my room sipping a cold cup of coffee straight from my SpongeBob mug waiting on a phone call. I practice my speech then quickly decide to ditch the script not wanting to sound completely like a robot and trying to ignore my mother’s request to ask him about his current relationship status. I use Facebook to distract me and listen to Prince as he sings about partying like its 1999. 1:04 pm, my phone vibrates with an unfamiliar NY number on the screen, it must be Bilal.
Bilal: Is this Penny Lane?
CMM: Yes it is.
Bilal: Are you ready for this interview?
CMM: Most definitely.
Bilal: Good. Do you know how long this going to take?
CMM: Not long, I don’t have many questions.
Bilal: Oh okay, awesome.
CMM: First off, I got a chance to sit down and listen to your new single “Back to Love” and I must say I really like it. It has this jazziness to it that I enjoy and it’s been a minute since I’ve heard a track like that. Now, I read that growing up, your father used to take you to a lot of jazz clubs. Who would you say, as far as jazz goes, was your major influence?
Bilal: Um, I think the main people were the local musicians in Philadelphia. My friends too. I went to a performing arts school and I was in the vocal department and I befriended a lot of people in the instrumental department. So, my long time hanging out with jazz musicians, I guess, kinda inspired me and my sound, ya know?
CMM: Yeah I feel you, and you have an album coming out two months exactly from today [A Love Surreal releasing February 12th 2013]. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Bilal: It’s pretty much a, I would say, I call it my "sonic art gallery." Salvador Dali was my muse for this project. I tried to make music, I would say, visual. You can close your eyes and really envision the music. So, I tried to make a sonic art piece.
Bilal: That’s why I entitled it A Love Surreal because I was kinda using that whole surreal kind of expression, to try to make the music.
CMM: You’ll be performing out here in Chicago Friday with Camp Lo. How do you feel about that? Camp Lo is one of my fave hip hop duos from back in the day.
Bilal: Oh yeah, for sure. I can’t wait to do it. We did a show together in New York a few months back. So, we’re already in the swing of things ya know, with how we work with each other. It’s cool to be working with them, because I like their vibe.
CMM: I will be there, most definitely. Entertainment One, the new label you're signed to, this is honestly my first time hearing about them and reading up on them last night I see you’re signed with Pleasure P and Bobby Valentino.
Bilal: Yeah, you know Dwele.
Bilal: Dwele actually is the person that kind of got me looking into the label. It’s pretty much an independent label that lets you do what you want to do. They give you some freedom.
CMM: That’s what’s up. That’s good as well, because we have a lot of artists who we fall in love with and they’ll sign to a label that will pretty much revamp their whole style and we sit here like "this isn’t why we fell in love with your music." I like that the label gives you guys the opportunity to continue to do what we appreciate you guys for.
Bilal: Oh yeah.
CMM: I don’t want to keep you any longer, I know your pretty busy and what not, but looking forward to you coming out here and putting on an awesome show for us. What can we expect?
Bilal: I always have an awesome time when I come out there. This will be my second time performing at the Shrine, I usually perform at Double Door but this will be cool. Chicago always has a good vibe, since back when I was playing with Common. So it’s going to be awesome. We 'bout to come in and SMAASH it down. Tell ya people to come around.
CMM: Haha. I will most definitely.
Bilal: Alright man, take care.
CMM: You do the same.
Listen to Bilal's new single "Back to Love" below: