Dave Hollister Talks Bringing ‘Real R&B’ Back With His New Album ‘MANuscript’
Dave Hollister is a busy man.
After reaching monumental success with the platinum-selling R&B quartet, BLACKstreet, Hollister went solo in the late 1990s with his breakout album, Ghetto Hymns. Now, when he's not preaching the gospel, Hollister is sanging across the globe to his fans while providing them with that classic '90s R&B sound. Earlier this month he released his ninth studio album, The MANuscript, which holds the soulful, funky track "Geometry."
He's also trying out his acting talents in Love Jones: The Musical alongside R&B veterans, Chrisette Michele, Tony Grant, Marsha Ambrosius, Raheem DeVaughn, Musiq Soulchild and more.
And in the mix of it all, The Boombox spoke with Hollister about Love Jones: The Musical, his new album, a collaboration album with Angie Stone in the works and why he thinks Chris Brown could reach Michael Jackson levels. Get into it below.
The Boombox: So, I actually caught your performance on Love Jones: The Musical on Friday in Baltimore. It was great.
Dave Hollister: I actually wasn't there.
You weren't? I thought I saw you...
DH: No, I was actually in California. Everyone thinks he's me.
Yeah, I did too. (laughs) I was fooled.
DH: I'm sorry, I had prior gigs. Before they booked the show, there was a few of them, had other gigs. We were trying to tell him, we actually were trying to tell him to move Baltimore, either to the end of the month or the beginning of the next season. I was like, 'wow.' But he went on with it anyway.
Gotcha. So, obviously you were with Blackstreet before and did classic '90s R&B. Then you started doing gospel after being saved, so what can people expect from this new album, The MANuscript?
DH: People can expect from this album, wow. Old school. People kept saying that there was a void. We need real R&B. There's a void, that whole type of thing. I said, okay, how do I go back and not reinvent myself, but bring me back to what I do without, how can I say this...I guess, without compromising. Without compromising who I am. Does that make sense to you?
Do you mean like compromising as far as your faith or the person you are in some other aspect?
DH: Yes. Yes. Because my first [album] was very gritty. I was upset. I was mad. The whole nine. I was just mad. Chicago '85... [The Movie], I had an incident to where it brought everything back full circle for me. With my ex-wife, and I had ... okay brother, you need to treat your woman this way, because if you don't do this, this will happen. I wanted to bring that back and marry the two. I wanted to take Ghetto Hymns and Chicago '85 and marry the two, and I think I did a pretty good job of doing that.
Definitely. I kind of saw that in the song, "Geometry" off of the album.
DH: "Geometry," oh my god, was a record. This is just hilarious to me because "Geometry" was a record that was really the last record on the album. It was like the last record we recorded, and my manager, who was saying, "Man, we're going to do this, we need a little tempo. Let's do this record, because we need a little tempo." And do you know, that is becoming one of the biggest, biggest records that everybody that listens to. It's become one of the most liked records on the album.
DH: Yeah, I just know that when I heard it, and I ... when I recorded it, I was like, 'wow, I love this record.' I just felt like we didn't do enough to it. You know what I'm saying? I just felt like we didn't do enough to the record. I felt like we left some stuff out. You know what I'm saying? We didn't give enough attention to the record.
What more do you think you could have added? Do you wish you could go back and do it? Or do you plan to? Like maybe do a remix?
DH: That's a good question. I don't really actually know what we're going to do. I don't really know what we're going to do with the record, outside of what we've already done because I don't think it'll be a single. I've heard that there's ... that somebody already has, somebody's already done a remix. I'll just wait and see what happens.
DH: When we did the record though, we actually played all geometric time. You know what I'm saying? The different angles, and measurements and all of that kind of thing, so we pretty much played off time.
Yeah, I caught that. It was really dope.
DH: Thank you.
Now that you've released a new solo album, is there any new music with BLACKstreet on the way?
DH: I'm just concentrating on Dave right now. BLACKstreet, myself and Teddy Riley, we're still touring and doing shows, but certainly my concentration is really on my projects right now at this point because the play, we're out, the tour is out until Dec. 5.
Okay, that's fair. That makes sense. Who are you listening to now? There's so many artists out now. Who are some of your favorites?
DH: I don't really ... I don't really like the R&B that's out because it's not real R&B to me. So I don't really listen to nobody out right now. BJ The Chicago Kid is probably the only person that I listen to, but I guess I'm kind of fighting for him because he used to sing background for me. He come from Chicago so I think I'm more biased toward him, but he's definitely a gifted young guy. He probably is the only artist I listen to right now. The only artist that's new that I listen to. Everybody else is that I listen to is pretty much old school.
Who are some of the old school acts you listen to?
DH: I listen to people like people like [The] Gap Band. My number one is Donny Hathaway, so I listen to him. I just listen to the old school people. One artist that I think if he got himself together and got his mind right...there will never be another Michael Jackson, but he's the closest thing to it, and that's Chris Brown. He's a very talented, gifted guy. I just think it's his demons and whatever things he's dealing with. They plague him. But I think that he could be the next Michael Jackson. Like I said, there will never be another one, but he could be, if he gets himself together.
Are there any people you would like to collaborate with? You can open it up to R&B singers, hip hop artists, or country artists or whoever. Anyone you'd like to?
DH: I've actually on this new album, I've worked with Angie Stone. So her and I are going to do that record and we are actually pairing up to do a duo album, me and Angie Stone.
Oh, I love Angie Stone.
DH: Yeah. I have a duet on her record, and then she did one on mine, so now once our records are done, we'll start working on our duet album together. I just finished a record with MC Lyte. I'm getting ready to start working with Raheem DuVaughn. I'm just doing records with people, where the relationship is organic, you ain't got to force it, you ain't go to do the whole, industry thing. I'm doing records with people that...it's organic.
DH: I don't want to force things. The one person that I haven't worked with that I want to work with, close friend of mine, Lalah Hathaway. We'll try to make that work.
I noticed you mentioned MC Lyte and Raheem DeVaughn who are both in Love Jones: The Musical, so that give me a good segue. How did you get involved with the musical in the first place and what made you want to get involved in it?
DH: Melvin Childs. My people got a call from his people. They kind of put it together. Originally, I was just really supposed to sing, but they ended up writing me in as another character, which is, you probably saw my character, the dude in the fat suit. Did you see that part?
The one where he was supposed to be the date for Nina's friend?
DH: Yeah. That was my part.
Yeah, that part was funny.
DH: That's how I play the character. I have a wig on, but it's like a feathered wig. Then I have these big bifocal glasses on and it's ... my tag with my pants is off. All the way up my leg, where you can see these big orange and red socks I got on. It's hilarious. It's one of my favorite parts in the show because he plays more than one character, the guy that plays that part for me, he does more than one character, so he can't...you probably seen him show up in club scene right?
I think so.
DH: Did Marsha perform?
Yes, she was amazing.
DH: Okay, so there's the part, when Marsha get's going on, when she's going off the stage, then the part where she's going off and he starts shouting at the end like he's in church. And then, Raheem comes back on, and says, 'Man you got the holy ghost?' You know what I'm saying. Then Raheem goes to talk to Nina.
I don't think I caught that part.
DH: Now that's the scene where normally I'm in the club and the dude on the thing, because I'm coming back in the club looking for her. So he might get it, but anyway, that's kind of how I got involved in the show.
So you have an album, you have the musical, you're touring, so what's next for you? What do you hope to do as the year is about close and next year and beyond?
DH: I'm just kind of living life. I'm in school. I'm in the play. I pastor a church, so it's, for me, there's so much going in, 'til I can kind of stop and collect myself, and go uh, get yourself together. Because it's so much going on. The only down part of the play is the fact that it's taking me out of the marketplace musically as far my own tour and all of that other kind of thing is taking me out of the marketplace for three months right when I have an album out.
DH: See the day the album came out, we were on the road. We started with, that was the first week of the tour. So, it's kind of taken me out of the marketplace for a minute, so hopefully we can play catch up. Catch up in January, right after Christmas, because the play goes up until Christmas.
Sounds good. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
DH: No I think, nothing except just the album is out, and I hope everybody enjoys it. I'm really a pretty simple dude. I think you kind of touched everything. Blackstreet again, we're playing, me and Teddy, we are out on the road together. We're back out together, so that's kind of exciting. We've been out together since 2009. If you ever hear that BLACKstreet is coming, I would encourage you to go and see.