Since the early 60s, many musical groups have made a significant contribution to R&B. Some of the greatest acts were The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Sly & The Family Stone, Earth, Wind, and Fire, The Time, and Prince and the Revolution. Now over 20 years later, we can add another musical act from Saint Paul, Minnesota to the list: Mint Condition. Twenty-two years ago, the group changed the art of R&B music with their debut single, “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).” Ricky Kinchen, Larry Waddell, Homer O’ Dell, Jeffrey Allen, and lead vocalist Stokley Williams are known for their diverse musical sound and play anything from jazz, R&B, blues, funk, rock, hip-hop, and soul. The group’s performances are captivating and moving each time they step on stage.
Mint Condition has recorded a number of hits since the early 90s, and fans still sing their songs word for word. The group released their eighth studio album, Music at the Speed of Life in 2012, and bass player Ricky Kinchen composed most of the material on the album. The group was also inducted into Soulmusic.com’s Hall of Fame in December 2012.
Ricky Kinchen took time from his busy schedule and conversed with SoulTrain.com. In this exclusive interview Ricky talked about the writing process for the album, the secret to longevity in the industry, musical influences, their performance at BB King’s Restaurant in New York City this month, and what’s yet to come for the group.
SoulTrain.com: You have a new album out, Music at the Speed of Life. What makes this album different from the previous albums you recorded?
Ricky Kinchen: We recorded the album in real time. Things were happening in our personal lives, going through a lot of BS so we put our stories on the record. And it’s hard for guys because we don’t like to express ourselves. On the album, I composed and wrote most of the songs because I was coming from a real place. Once your fans know you’re coming from that real place, they recognize your emotions when you sing your songs. This is the CD that our fans enjoy because we’re open and honest on these records.
SoulTrain.com: How does it feel to be recognized as one of the best R&B music groups since the 1990s?
Ricky Kinchen: It feels good to be recognized because we sincerely love what we do as a group. We still have the passion for it after all of these years, and fans pick up realness from an artist.
SoulTrain.com: Who are some of your biggest influences, past and present?
Ricky Kinchen: Our biggest influences would have to be Prince, Bootsy Collins, Andre 3000, A Tribe Called Quest, bass guitarist Louis Johnson, Mark Adams (Slave’s bass guitarist), and Stanley Clark, a Grammy Award-winning bassist. The list goes on because we have so many musical heroes.
SoulTrain.com: What fans should expect when they attend a Mint Condition concert?
Ricky Kinchen: We’re going to be looking good each time we perform because that’s the only way we know how to be. This is who we are as a group. We’re just going bring it and kill it for our fans; so all they have to do is come out and support. This is Mint Condition, a full-fledged band with a lot of energy!
SoulTrain.com: Any more upcoming projects for Mint Condition?
Ricky Kinchen: We’re thinking about recording a Christmas album, recording another studio album, and continuing touring because we love entertaining our fans. When we’re out on the road, our fans just connect with us and that’s the most wonderful thing for a band to witness when they’re performing.
–Dominique M. Carson
Dominique M. Carson is a graduate student at Brooklyn College. Dominique’s work has been featured in Singersroom.com, Rappersoom.com, Pure Soul Magazine, www.thecelebritycafe.com, Spotlight on Recovery Magazine, Bay Currents, Urbane Perspective Media+ Lifestyle, Inc, Brooklyn College’s media outlets, Brooklyn Daily Eagle internet edition, Education Update, www.NYCityWatch.org, and www.brooklyntoday.info. She is currently nominated for a Black Celebration Award in News & Journalism. For more information on Dominique, visit her homepage, LinkedIn page, and Facebook fan page.