It’s been nearly fifteen years since the world was introduced to crooner Bobby V, formerly known as Bobby Valentino. From his days in the group Mista in the 90s to stepping out on his own, Bobby V has proven time and time again that hard work pays off, with chart-topping hits under his belt such as “Slow Down”, “Anonymous”, and “Beep.” Today, the singer, songwriter, and businessman is still going strong, gearing up to release his second mix tape called Vitamin V that he says will bridge the gap to his milestone fifth solo album set to be released next year.
Soul Train: What brought on the name change from Bobby Valentino to Bobby V?
Bobby V: Well, due to some complications, there was another artist, an older cat, over in the United Kingdom that has had the name copyrighted for several years, so we just had a little issue with the name. A lot of people called me Bobby V anyway so I figured just to go ahead and save some money and just go with Bobby V.
Soul Train: Your new mix tape is named Vitamin V, which is very creative. How did you come up with that title?
Bobby V: I feel like my music is very therapeutic–it can be that music that when you’re sick, when you’re lonely, it’s that vitamin that you need. I’ll probably end up doing like a whole series, like my official album will probably be titled Vitamin V2-The Antidote, or something like that, because music is that daily vitamin that everybody needs, that everybody is missing in this music game right now.
Soul Train: A lot of artists say there is a lot missing in the industry right now, especially the lyrical content in music. Do you agree?
Bobby V: Well, the reason is probably since hip-hop is so dominant. You know, people that come with real material, real R&B music now is just overlooked. So I think the main reason music has changed so much is because of hip-hop. Also, pop music has become so popular.
Soul Train: So do you think that you will help push real R&B music back to the forefront?
Bobby V: That’s what I’ve been trying to do. But honestly, I’ll always continue to do R&B music because I love it. These days kids aren’t really growing up on R&B music, they are growing up on a different type of music; it’s going to take a lot more than just me to bring back R&B music. I think R&B music is going to become a lost art in a sense because it’s not really what’s hot. If the kids aren’t growing up on it, and it’s not glorified…like look at how there’s like a million hip-hop award shows, radio shows, TV shows, and they hear hip-hop all day long, so where does R&B fit in the spectrum of things? Of course, people like me and other artists are going to keep doing R&B music because we love it, but all in all it’s going to become more of a lost art rather than coming back.
Soul Train: So with this mix tape are you trying to target the younger generation to give them a taste of R&B?
Bobby V: I’m going after who loves good music. I’m not necessarily trying to target any audience in particular. At the end of the day, it’s for whoever loves the music and moves towards it, but other than that I’m not trying to target a specific group. Hopefully the younger people will get in on it, but I think for them, hip-hop is just so big for them right now. All I can do is keep making good music for people to listen to. I know it’s hot, and I know it is good music once people put their ear to it to listen to it.
Soul Train: What can fans expect on Vitamin V?
Bobby V: It’s almost just like an album; actually Vitamin V is an album. It has a lot of new material. It’s got an intro, a couple of interludes. The industry today is moving towards mix tapes, so I just made it like an album. Of course I have some hip-hop artists on there. I have a feature single called “Drop It” with 2 Chainz and Meek Mill. It’s the leading single, you know giving the people what they want with that record, but also giving them that real soulful real R&B music as well.
Soul Train: Is this mix tape a prelude to your fifth studio album?
Bobby V: Yes, it’s kind of like a bridge. This is my second mix tape that I’ve ever put out. The first one was called “60 Minutes” and I released that before my last album and it bridged the gap and it just gives fans something to listen to and ride to until the album drops. However, this mix tape I put more time into it in making it more of an album than the last one. It has 12 songs on it, hosted by DJ Holiday.
Soul Train: You said the industry is moving towards putting out a lot of mix tapes now. Why is that? Is hip-hop the reason for that change?
Bobby V: It’s just because you can get music for free these days. Big wigs are putting out material for free so everybody else has to do it as well. With music being so free, with the game being so competitive and it’s like everybody is a singer, a producer, rapper, writer, etc., and it kind of takes away from the people that really do it. Everywhere I go, I am approached by somebody that says “Yo man, I’m a singer, I’m a writer, I’m a rapper, I’m a dancer, or I do something in entertainment,” so that takes away from the days of being an artist and it being special, like in the days of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Isley’s, Babyface, and all of those cats. The artists now aren’t really special anymore. If everybody is an artist, they just look at you like ‘well you’re cool, but I’m better than you,’ so it’s the competitive nature of the business that’s made the practice of mix tapes and things of that nature more common. Now days, they aren’t really giving out record deals–it’s more like you have to make yourself hot, then they get to see how the mix tape does, before they offer you a deal. Mix tapes are big and do a lot for a lot of people. They create a lot of buzz, and get you back to where you need to be as well.
Soul Train: How can fans get a copy of the Vitamin V?
Bobby V: They can go to my website at blukolladreams.com and download it for free on December 20th.
Soul Train: Do you have any memories of Soul Train?
Bobby V: Oh yes! (laughs) When I was in the group Mista, we performed on Soul Train back when Don Cornelius was still hosting the show. My mama still has that recording. We had on some light blue suits and so I had a chance to really experience the real Soul Train unlike anyone else that’s in my age bracket. Soul Train was the best show and Don is a legend for everything that he did. It was an honor for me to be a part of that history.
Soul Train: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Bobby V: Don’t give up. This is a business where you have to work every day to make it. You really have to work hard. There’s no time to play; if you are in it to win it, then you don’t have time to play around. It’s a continuous grind. If it’s meant for you then it’ll happen.
For more information check out Bobby V’s website www.blukolladreams.com & follow him on Twitter @BobbyV
Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, or her own site, www.themofochronicles.com. She’s also a special guest contributor on The Social Hour on Urban Soul Radio. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.