Q&A: Thicke reflects on race, music and "Something Else"

Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:57pm EDT
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By Gail Mitchell

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - It's an unusually hot and humid summer night in Hollywood. A murmuring line of fans -- mostly women -- snakes around the Sunset Boulevard perimeter of the House of Blues. They're waiting for one thing and one thing only: Robin Thicke.

Inside the crowded venue, women begin yelling as Thicke's band troops onstage to some James Brown funk and the announcer promises "a true soul experience." Then the whole room seems to undulate as Thicke bounds onstage and launches into his new '70s soul-grooved track "Magic."

That afternoon, in an upstairs dressing room, Thicke mused about the audiences that have been queuing up as he sets the stage for the September 30 release of his third album, "Something Else."

"What's great about the bigger cities are the numbers of interracial couples who come," he said. (The singer-songwriter, who is white, is married to actress Paula Patton, who is black.) Thicke added, "I'm seeing a cross between the girls who want to come out and have fun and the couples who come to enjoy a loving environment."

Race never seems to be far from the mind of Thicke, who was heralded for furthering the next generation of blue-eyed soul after the platinum success of his second album, "The Evolution of Robin Thicke."

He described "Something Else" as a cross between "classic Philly, Motown and '70s black disco meets the creativity of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. It just felt to me that a lot of stuff out there sounds the same. It's a time for change, for something else."

The new album (due September 30 on Star Trak/Interscope) isn't the only thing on Thicke's plate. He has written the theme song for the movie "Push," a drama directed by Lee Daniels (who produced "Monster's Ball" and "The Woodsman"). Co-starring Patton as a teacher, the film takes place in '80s Harlem amid the crack epidemic. Thicke is also penning a screenplay ("a spy thriller love thing like 'The Bourne Supremacy"') and writing a book of poetry.

He'll tour with Mary J. Blige in September and October. And his latest Lil Wayne collaboration, "Tie My Hands," will appear on "Something Else" (it's also on Wayne's "Tha Carter III") and will be featured in the upcoming Forest Whitaker film "Hurricane Season."   Continued...

<p>Robin Thicke performs in Anaheim, California September 1, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>