Neo-soul songstress Res comes to Detroit to perform her classic debut

Why the ‘Golden Boys’ singer doesn’t mind being called a one-hit wonder

click to enlarge How I Do by Res. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
How I Do by Res.

There are few artists that define the early 2000s soul music sound, and most musical experts will tell you there was only one city… Philadelphia. One of those artists was Res.

With her classic debut, How I Do, Res entered the world with a girl-power anthem, “Golden Boys,” that mocked the backpack rappers who were dominating airwaves. She also presented songs about love and friendship — about making up and breaking up.

Powered by co-writing credits by Santi White (aka Santigold) and produced by Martin “Doc” McKinney, How I Do still sounds beautiful and has not lost any of its luster. Yet, several reasons — including label issues, a changing marketplace, and most significantly, the fact that the album came out a little more than a month before Sept. 11, 2001 — stopped any progress it was making and left it with no tour to support it.

On Thursday, Res will stop by Detroit’s Willis Show Bar to play her debut album and to share some new music. Metro Times did a brief interview with the songstress to talk about her music old and new and what she thinks now about those “Golden Boys.”

Metro Times: Can you talk about where you think that the place is that How I Do has in the historical lexicon in African American music, or specifically for Gen X?

Res: Well, that’s a great question. My first thought that came to my head was I am a Black woman. I was a Black young woman at the time and I don’t think that we were represented in that way at that time. I came from a good home and went to good schools. I feel like life (for girls like me) wasn’t really portrayed — our thoughts, what we were into, the way we wanted to look, the music that we listened to and we were influenced by.

Metro Times: Your music spoke to young Black women and who they were then, but I find that it still resonates with me now. What do you say to those girls who are now women?

Res: I want to say that, one, we made it and we’re still doing great. And not only that, but the world is ready to acknowledge us now, and support us, and listen to what we have to say, and almost let us guide them, in a sense. I spoke to a lot of the women that listened to my album. A lot of Black women listened to my album years ago, I feel like a lot of them are executives now, they’re running their department, they’re running their own business, they’re entrepreneurs, they’re leaders, they’re changing the game, they’re unapologetically looking the way they want to look, wearing their hair the way they want to wear it.

Metro Times: It seems like 9/11 was a big part of the reason that your career seemed to have stalled.

Res: I think me not bouncing back had more to do with one decision that I made that I do regret to this day, and that was firing my manager at the time. I think that’s really what people don’t realize. Yeah, 9/11, that was an issue, but I think just that personal decision of mine — not personal, but a business decision I guess, which was firing my manager at the time. I think that’s really what derailed my whole career more so than anything else.

Metro Times: So, where are we now? You know who you are, you know who your audience is, you know what they like from you, you know what they need, where's the new album?

Res: Well, I don’t really know who my audience is. I don’t really know what they need. I don’t, to be honest. Because I don’t feel like I got there yet. A few years after my album came out I would look at the audience and I would say, you know what, this crowd looks like the same crowd that sees a Prince concert, diverse. But now, I have a little bit of this, I have a little bit of that. I go to Chicago, my crowd is one way. I go to Philly, my crowd is different. I go to L.A. and New York, my crowd is different. I’m getting back out there talking to people.

Metro Times: Have you been called a one-hit wonder, and do you get offended by being called that?

Res: No. I’ve only called myself that. That’s just a term that I use to be sure, just because there is a song called “For Who You Are” that has a lot of spins on YouTube, and a lot of people in Chicago love it, and I get booked literally for that one song.

But it’s funny because I don’t really feel like a one-hit wonder because I know that I have a whole career that spans a lot of different genres, it’s just that this group of people may not have heard of all of my other songs. It’s only in a couple of places where they only want to hear one song and they have no idea about my other music, but then a couple other people trickle in.

Even if someone did say that to me, I don’t look at it as an insult because it’s really hard to have a hit record, and to write it and to produce. It is not actually that easy. So, it’s something that most people can’t do out there in the world.

Res performs on Thursday, April 7 at Willis Show Bar; 4156 3rd Ave., Detroit; 313-788-7469; Doors at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 day of show.

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About The Author

Biba Adams

Biba Adams is a Detroit-based national freelance writer. Her work has been featured in Visit Detroit, Model D, VIBE, and more. She is currently working on her debut book, Scenes From a Renaissance: Detroit Hip-Hop 1996-2006.
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