Keith Sweat Crooning at 'Hotel'

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/11525733/11525735" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

R&B crooner Keith Sweat has been making music for more than 20 years. The singer talks about his love of performing and his new CD, "Sweat Hotel Live."

(Soundbite of song, "I Want Her")

Mr. KEITH SWEAT (Singer): (Singing) Seen you last night. Saw you standin' there.

TONY COX, host:

R&B crooner Keith Sweat has been making music for more than 20 years. His song "I Want Her" from his debut album "Make It Last Forever," hit number one on the R&B charts.

(Soundbite of song, "I Want Her")

Mr. SWEAT: (Singing) (unintelligible) baby, do(ph). I wanna know was it my imagination. Oh, you know it was a sweet sensation.

COX: Sweat went on to record several more albums and has found success producing music for artists like the O'Jays and the Isley Brothers. Today, he continues to tour, and his live performances are as memorable as his voice.

His latest CD, "Sweat Hotel," was recorded at a 2006 show in Atlanta and showcases all his hits. I spoke with the crooner who admitted he's not shy about begging on his songs.

(Soundbite of song, "I Want Her")

Mr. SWEAT: (Singing) I want that baby.

Begging is what, you know, Marvin Gaye did, you know, all the great entertainers and all the great vocalists from the day, I mean, they beg as they crooned, as they, you know, begged the women, you know what I'm saying? That's what we do. I mean, I've been in the industry because of what I do and the songs that I've sung, and my catalog is what it is because of what I do so, I mean, me begging is a part of me. That's what I'm going to continue to do.

COX: Hey, if it works, it works, right?

Mr. SWEAT: That's true.

COX: Absolutely. Hey, listen, you have been in the business a long time. Tell us a little bit about how you got started singing.

Mr. SWEAT: Well, basically, you know, I'm from Harlem. I was doing demos and someone happened to hear a couple of demos that I had and thought they were hard. They took it to Elektra and Elektra wanted to put me on. You know, it was something different. It was called new jack swing. It was something totally different than what everybody else was doing.

(Soundbite of "Make It Last Forever")

Mr. SWEAT: (Singing) Let's make it last forever.

Ms. JACCI McGHEE (Background vocalist, "Make It Last Forever"): (Singing) Forever.

Mr. SWEAT: (Singing) Don't let our love end.

Ms. McGHEE: (Singing) Ooh, don't let our love end.

Mr. SWEAT: (Singing) Let me hear you tell me you love me. Let me hear you say you'll never leave me.

COX: Let's talk for a moment about someone who was very close to you that you had a special relationship with: the late Gerard Levert.

Mr. SWEAT: Right.

COX: His dad, as a matter of fact, is going to be here in the studio with us to talk about him. And you were part of a trio, LSG, which also included Johnny Gill. You paid tribute to him during the show, didn't you?

Mr. SWEAT: Oh, most definitely. That's my man, and will always be my brother. I mean, he will always be in my heart. I mean, he's still here as far as I'm concerned.

COX: What was your fondest memory?

Mr. SWEAT: I mean, you know, just basically us being in a group together, me going to see him on stage before I even really got to know him, going to see him at the Apollo one time, and us becoming very, very close (audio Gap 00:05:14 to 00:05:17) I mean, and I became like real family to him.

COX: Talking about him and you and Will Downing, Johnny Gill and others, do you think - or maybe I should put it this way, how do you think, Keith Sweat, that R&B music has changed since guys like you hit the scene?

Mr. SWEAT: The songs don't have the meaning to me that they had when L.A. Reid and Babyface used to write, Jimmy Jam and and Terry Lewis used to write. Music has changed tremendously. I mean, now it's all about the beat. It's not about the lyrical content of the song. If you've got a hot beat, it doesn't matter what you're saying.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: Mm-hmm. Well, you know, we've been doing a series all month here on NEWS & NOTES about hip-hop, and do you think that the lyrics, that lyrical sound that you and others have represented so well for so long, do you think it may even find it's way back through hip-hop?

Mr. SWEAT: I mean, it's trying to find its way back. I think hip-hop is real music. I mean, it's like when I grew up and I mean, you had Doug E. Fresh, you had L.L., you had all those that, I mean, that - they were really saying something. I'm not saying that a lot of people are not saying anything now. I'm just - you got to feel of the - a few people out there that's still, you know, trying to hold it down, but the lyrical content was saying a whole lot more back then.

COX: Mm-hmm. One more thing before I let you go. We have - you have a great big fan on the staff of NEWS & NOTES, and she asked me to ask you this question because she says your music puts so many people in the mood, all right?

Mr. SWEAT: Mm-hmm. Okay.

COX: So here's the question: What put Keith Sweat in the mood?

Mr. SWEAT: Oh, man. I don't, I mean, it's just a number of things, you know, I put myself in the mood.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SWEAT: No, it's basically, I think me being able to a sexy young lady. You know what I'm saying?

COX: Well, that would work.

Mr. SWEAT: That automatically puts me in the mood. You know what I'm saying?

COX: All right. I appreciate the time that you gave us. Good luck with this project, Keith Sweat.

Mr. SWEAT: Oh man, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. I thank you for the interview. You know what I'm saying? Thank you for the love. I appreciate it.

COX: Keith Sweat's new CD of live recordings is called "Sweat Hotel Live."

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.