Ahead of releasing his first album in more than a decade, Smokey Robinson sat down with Billboard News to discuss the creative process of his latest effort, Gasms.
The Grammy winner tells Billboard‘s executive director of R&B/Hip-Hop, Gail Mitchell, that Gasms was a laborious journey that took between five and six years to make. “‘Orgasm’ is the first word I think people think about. That’s probably the most important one,” he quips. “I thought it would cause controversy, and people would say, ‘What is he talking about?’ and it did. People say, ‘What is it about?’ I say, ‘I want you to listen, and you tell me what it’s about. It’s about whatever you want it to be about. I left it like that.”
Spearheading Gasms were Robinson’s two first singles, “If We Don’t Have Each Other” and “How You Make Me Feel.” The inception for the latter found him behind the piano, where he whipped up the song’s melody. “I was tinkering around with the piano one day, and I just started to sing that to myself,” he recalls. “I wanted a modern-day sound to it.”
With a decorated career spanning over 60 years, the revered singer-songwriter also spoke on the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Having a fistful of songs sampled in the past — most notably “Much Better Off” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for A$AP Rocky (“Jukebox Joints” ) and Kanye West (“Devil in a New Dress”) — Robinson expressed delight in the genre’s growth.
“I’m not surprised that hip-hop has lasted for 50 years because when we first started Motown, there were people saying this music is ridiculous and it would never work. There are always those people — skeptics. Those are normally people of a different age era.”
He later adds: “There are kids making some wonderful music and they always has been.”
Gasms is out now.