Perhaps as much as any other R&B singer, Anthony David likes to keep it real.
His new album, “Acey Ducey,” features songs like “Cheatin' Man” and “Krooked Kop,” which draw attention to authentic African American male experiences that are often overlooked in hip-hop and R&B in favor of boasts and bling.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“I think there are caricatures of male energy in music – these very extreme views of either ‘I'm not very emotional' or ‘I'm extremely emotional,'” says David, who performs on the campus of UNCC next week. “Somehow I can kind of tap into what we really think.”
David was the first artist signed to India.Arie's record label, Soulbird Music. He had been a backup singer, a songwriter and an opening touring act for the Grammy Award-winning soul singer-songwriter, so the deal was a natural for the old friends (who started their careers together in Atlanta 13 years ago).
Arie's Universal Republic imprint released “Acey Ducey,” a collection of songs culled from David's two independent releases, in June. “Those were the most popular (songs) to the people who were hip to us,” he says of tracks that bridge acoustic folk, R&B, blues, and hip-hop and capture realistic relationships between family members, friends, and lovers.
The song “Lady,” for instance, recognizes how guys can get swept up in misogyny and materialism (“I became numb and insensitive …Tuning in and listening to pimps on the radio … started making sense to me”).
“Even if a song I totally hate comes on, if I hear it enough, I'm like, ‘that's right … VIP …' Then I'm like, ‘Wait a minute – we've never been in the VIP room. I don't drive no Mercedes. I didn't give her all my money,'” he laughs. “R&B (artists) overdo all their stuff. I try to keep it in reality. Reality is a lot more fascinating than fantasy a lot of times.”
Listeners often thank him for his honesty. “I come from a family where men don't talk a whole lot,” he says. “Somehow, it comes out in these songs. Men come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for saying this.'”
He can relate. During a breakup awhile back, his then-girlfriend listened to a lot of Alanis Morissette's ‘Jagged Little Pill.” “But I didn't have an album screaming my viewpoint,” he recalls.
His lyrical honesty and updated classic-soul arrangements give his material a timelessness that has drawn comparisons to Donnie Hathaway and Bill Withers, as well as contemporaries Seal and Anthony Hamilton.
David also believes living in Atlanta has helped him to keep it real. “It's a city full of artists, but what's nice about it, too, is it's a city of regular people. You can escape the whole Hollywood aspect of it. There's competition and inspiration.”