Robin Thicke’s new album “Something Else” hit stores Tuesday. But the ardent Barack Obama supporter also had more to say about race in America and how he picks his collaborators, including Ashanti.
Q. I read somewhere that you’ve said, “Everything now comes down to race in America.” Is that true?
A. I think I was talking about the presidential election. The whispers about it are all around. There are still people asking, “Are we ready for an African-American president?” It’s kind of interesting that we’re still asking that question. But, across the country, people are changing their tunes. There are groups like the Hell’s Angels who said they’re going to vote for Obama because they can’t afford things to keep going the way they are ... It’s only 45 years since the “I Have a Dream” speech. I think what Americans don’t realize is how electing Obama would change the perception of America in the rest of the world. To go from Bush to a black president? That would show why we are leaders in the world.
Q. Do you feel that race affect you in your career? That because you’re white you can’t sing soul music?
A. Normally, only white people say that. (Laughs) It’s like Jimi Hendrix playing rock ‘n’ roll. I think if the artist lets that get in the way, they’ll never accomplish anything. If you keep making great music, that’s what gets into peoples hearts. If you make great music that I want to listen to, then I’ll let all those other bygones be bygones… Depending on room I walk into I could catch a lot of hater energy or I could catch a lot of “You’re the real thing and people are finally getting to know it.” It depends which corner I turn.
Q. Well, considering all the collaborations you’ve done recently—Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Jennifer Hudson, Ashanti—you’ve certainly won some respect with artists. How did you come to work with Ashanti?
A. She came to a listening session that I was having for my album. She came in smiling and looking beautiful and she played me this record that she wanted me to be on and we did it right there. When those things happen organically, it’s great. People always say, “You should do a record with this person because it will help your career.” I never do it for those purposes. I only do it because I’m excited about the artist or I’m inspired.