When Carl Thomas‘ debut single “I Wish” hit the radio in 1999, it’s release brought on both excitement and fear. Excitement among fans who were hungry for R&B that was lacking in a musical landscape dominated by pop, and fear among industry insiders who were nervous about the trajectory of his career—he was signed to Sean “Diddy” Comb’s Bad Boy Records, notorious for its reputation of artists finding great success only to fall into relative obscurity, financial instability, or running off to another label—Craig Mack, Total, Cheri Dennis, Yung Joc, Loon, B5, 112, Faith Evans, and The Lox among them.
While his first album, Emotional, was a critical and commercial success in 2000, selling nearly two million copies; his follow-up releases—2004’s Let’s Talk About It and 2007’s So Much Better—failed to make a huge impact, and consequently he got lost in the shuffle of changing musical taste and the new wave of R&B artists who crept up on the scene in the mid noughties. While lack of promotion is to blame for the lackluster returns, his grief over the 2004 drive-by shooting death of this step-brother Duranthony Evans, greatly affected his focus on music.
But after being away for six years—of which included a move to Texas—the Grammy Award nominated singer is back and ready to regain—if not surpass—his former glory with Conquer, his recently released fourth studio album. Fans will be pleasantly surprised that Carl is still the same artist they fell in love with—only stronger.
How has your music evolved from your days on Bad Boy?
I didn’t really feel a need to change my style or anything. I felt the need to let the music breathe and let it broaden. [I want] to expose myself to brand new fans that have never heard of Carl Thomas. I think that’s where the music has grown—there’s broadness and an acceptance of a certain audience that I have ignored. The [new] album consists of songs that for some reason have eluded me in my career because maybe producers thought I wasn’t good enough to sing (laughs).
So you survived the Bad Boy curse?
I think that’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t be sitting here doing this interview with you if there was no Bad Boy. How deep is that curse, really?
So it seems you didn’t have the same issues with Diddy that other artists have had, right?
I didn’t have a problem working with Puff. The problems that we had were never business [or] personal problems. They were always creative run-ins and those are not necessarily negative. Harmony creates a good product, but nothing creates a better product that fiction in my opinion. [I mean] I like a little hot sauce on my greens (laughs). Read the rest of this entry »