What happens when you take two of soul music’s richest voices and put them in the studio together? Musiq Soulchild and Syleena Johnson have collaborated to create the duet album 9ine. For the two singers who have largely spent their careers in the realm of R&B, it may come as a surprise to some that this new album is a reggae offering. Musiq and Syleena take a moment out of their busy schedules to divulge details on this groundbreaking pairing.
Both Syleena and Musiq came to prominence in the early 2000s, which is considered to be the last great period of soul music. They are both known for delivering some of the most soulful records over the last decade. In a delightfully unexpected turn of events, the two soul singers collaborated to create a project that they will release this coming July. Originally the singers were both working on solo material with famed reggae producer Kemar McGregor, and by natural order decided to combine three songs by Musiq, three songs by Syleena, and three duets to complete the circle. Some have questioned why Syleena and Musiq chose to go with a reggae project. Musiq offers a very clear and concise reason why. “We just wanted to step out of our natural elements so ya’ll could see that this is what we do.” The Philly crooner goes on to state, “It can go down in any way. Reggae, country, gospel, R&B, it don’t matter. This is what we do and we love to do it.” Syleena Johnson, who came up with the album’s title, stated that the number nine has very significant and spiritual meanings, including the fact that both singers’ birthdays are in the ninth month of the year. It should also be specially noted that the writer of this article himself was born in the ninth month of the year.
Every generation is blessed with a groundbreaking duo. From Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, to Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, all the way to Musiq Soulchild and Syleena Johnson, the evolution of real musicians collaborating continues. While unexpected, this duet album is a welcomed breath of fresh air to the music industry. Set to be delivered July 9th, no additional info about the project outside of a planned tour has been provided. Perhaps that’s what makes it so special. The anticipation of two proven soul singers coming together to step outside of their respective boxes is exciting. The album seems to be motivated purely by the love of the art form and the effort to push honest music back to the forefront. Whatever the case may be, Musiq and Syleena have given us nine reasons to look forward to this summer.
Nick Eden is a singer/songwriter/R&B junkie based out of Atlanta, GA. He is a winner of the Steve Harvey New Star Project and has recently appeared on BET/Centric’s Apollo Live. His self titled EP is available on iTunes now. Follow him on Twitter @nickeden.