Terry Klientell: Steppin' Out
In the sixties, Motown Records, with hit songs that influenced pop music from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on down, and was the soundtrack to the civil rights movement, called itself "the sound of Young America." Hip Hop/R&B is the new sound of Young America. Like the great era of soul music - your father's rhythm and blues - in the sixties and seventies, today's new sound (new jack hip hop urban whatever) is coming from the streets of the cities. Back in the day it was the Detroit sound of Motown, Philly Soul, the southern fried funk of the Stax/Volt label in Memphis and Charley Records in New Orleans. Then in the '80s and early '90s, rap music and hip hop exploded the cultural scene like its predecessors did, from the ground up. Local sounds and local labels found what was really happening. And what was happening came from the creative domes of the producer.
Great pop music is based on the work of the producer, who, like Berry Gordy and Phil Spector back then, Quincy Jones since then, and Dr. Dre now, finds and presents talented artists. But the real star is the sound. Like a movie director taking writers, talented cameramen and technical people, and putting actors at their service, the music producer takes his sound and vision and matches talent to that sound. In this tradition comes Terry Klientell. A synthesis of Quincy Jones and P. Diddy, with the phat back beat of 21st century Dr. Dre, Klientell comes with his own groove.
Listen to "All My Love" (streaming mp3)
His debut release, Everything You Need, is a strong entry into a crowded field. The opening track "All My Love" sounds like Usher by way of Smokey Robinson. The song is fresh and modern but has its roots in the old school, as can be heard in the melody of song and the smooved out supple way it is sung. The cut has a rap section but it's not over done like so much R&B today. In a word, this cut is tasty. "Lately/Our Love" and the title track evidence more of this emphasis on the smooth soul tip of hip hop soul. While I firmly believe in Rakim's statement "It ain't where ya from, it's where ya at," this kind of true feeling in song, this kinda soulfulness, ain't comin' out of New York or L.A.
Terry, what music did you grow up with?
[Terry Klientell] I grew up listening to the Temptations, Michael Jackson, LLCool J and Dr. Dre.
What are your early musical memories?
[Terry Klientell] It would have to be my parents playing Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston and Temptations records. Also learning to play the drums and seeing Keith Sweat, L L Cool J and New Edition in concert.
Listen to "Special/Just Want to Be" (streaming mp3)
What made you to want to perform and create music in the first place?
[Terry Klientell] After hearing LL Cool J's album Bigger and Deffer. I knew that I wanted to be involved in Hip hop. Dr. Dre, The Bomb Squad (of Public Enemy and Ice Cube fame), Quincy Jones (producer of jazz and Michael Jackson and countless others), Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Teddy Riley also influenced me as a producer.
Your bio says that you grew up in Las Vegas, NV. What was it like for a young African American to grow up and live there?
[Terry Klientell] I was born in Louisiana but I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. As far back as I can remember, the city has been called "The entertainment capital of the world." I think that's because of the Las Vegas Strip, but with the recent growth it has really evolved.
Like any hip hop record, there is the presence of rap music. But Terry mixes this with subtle beats and textures that sound good in the car or at home. The rap is clear and straight ahead with a strong, old school flow like LL Cool J or KRS1. This is heard on "Everything You Need" and the ultra romantic new school slow jam "True." The female voice tells the story and the rap answers. If there is a signature TK device on this record this is it - conversation. But unlike many other songs of this type, Terry manages to make it seem like the people singing and rapping are talking to each other. It's intimate, and real old-fashioned soul music.
Listen to "Everything You Need" (streaming mp3)
What was the music scene like in Vegas? Is there anything aside from the commercial music that you find in casinos?
[Terry Klientell] The city has changed tremendously in the past few years. The music scene has evolved tremendously. New acts, venues and radio stations with urban formats have come into existence within the past few years. The growth of hip hop and R&B is due to people like Rory McCalister and the Record Systems organization. There is a misconception that Las Vegas only embraces lounge singers and performers in the hotels, but hip hop is just as popular in Las Vegas as any other city. It always has been. West Coast hip hop is very popular due to the fact that Nevada is so close to California. Las Vegas residents embrace and buy the same hip hop, R&B and Pop music that residents of other areas buy. There is a lot of talent in Las Vegas. Producers and DJs like Rory McCalister, Alex (ATG) Sanchez, David "DJ Raize" Foster and Demarlo Beals are really helping to break new records and expose new talent in the city.
Besides Quincy Jones, what old school music producers and artists influence and/or inspire you?
[Terry Klientell] I like Norman Whitfield (Temptations, Rose Royce), Phil Spector, Berry Gordy, Curtis Mayfield, Clive Davis and Steve Cropper (Otis Redding). All of these men were involved with some of the best records ever created.
Listen to "Lately/Our Love" (streaming mp3)
In your production, are you using mainly live musicians, samples and electronics, or a mixture of both?
[Terry Klientell] Currently, I am using original music. I use sound modules, but some of my music is played in real time.
Explain your song writing and production process in the creation of one of your songs.
[Terry Klientell] I try to concentrate on the essentials of making good records. I try to focus on catchy hooks and grooves and good performances as well as a good recording, mix and the right sounds. Some producers really put a lot of emphasis on having the newest and best equipment. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I don't think it is really about how much high tech equipment you have, because hits are made using different types of equipment. Sometimes it really just comes down to talent, creativity and skills.
Listen to "My Heart/My Love" (streaming mp3)
What do you think is missing from hip hop and what are you doing to fill the void?
[Terry Klientell] I believe that this a really good time for hip hop. There are many independent artists and labels doing well without using traditional methods of promotion. I am a huge R&B fan, so I try to bring more melody to hip hop, as well as original music. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with samples. In some ways hip hop was built on samples and I am sure that there are many music publishers who are thankful for hip hop labels, artists and producers who use and pay to license their copyrights. All I try to do is create records that people can feel and want to buy. I write, produce and focus on making and marketing great music. I pray to God and do what I can.
For a taste of the real deal, and to hear the threads of great black American soul running through the new school sound of Young America and the world pick up on this. Check out his site at RXL Recordings, www.rxlrecords.com.