As the third Marvin in a line of Scandricks, "Slim" is best known for being the voice — and face — of 112. His sensual vocals punctuated the smooth grooves of "Cupid" and "Anywhere," and for the past decade, his silky tenor has reigned as one of R&B's most distinctive voices.
In 2008, under the auspices of Asylum Records, "Slim" formed M3 Productions, his very own label. And with the release of Love's Crazy, he hopes to reintroduce himself to the world, as a solo artist and media mogul.
Upon the release of his first solo effort, "Slim" managed to find time in his busy schedule to settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry, where together they reflected on 112, the 23rd Psalm, and the inspiration behind M3 Productions.
The title of your first solo project is Love's Crazy. Since love can be a bit crazy at times, what lessons do you want to teach about the game of love?
On Love's Crazy, you'll notice that there's no bashing the other person. As a young black man, I'm not out there saying, "I cheated. I'm sorry. I'm begging for . . ." No, no. At this part of my life, I'm very, very comfortable. I can understand those type of records when you're younger. You're younger, you make a lot of mistakes. At this stage, it's time to highlight the more positive side of young men that are stable and know what they want in life, you know what I'm saying? Even though those things happen, there are so many ways to approach that situation. I have a song on my album called "Don't Say It." Sometimes things that happen on the outside of your relationship can affect your relationship. Let's say you go out. She has her job and you have your job. Your boss might've said something to you the wrong way or she didn't get her check or one of her friends did her wrong or something. When you come back in the house together, sometimes we have the habit of bringing what happens on the outside to the inside our house. It affects our relationship. What I'm trying to do – especially to the young men – is to get you to know your woman. Know how to push that button in the right way. Let's say she's having a bad day. You can say two or three things if you really know her, then definitely it will make her situation change and make everything positive. I have records like that. Just put that CD on the player. I guarantee you, for the next hour, I'm going to be your best friend.
I really like "Apologize." How did you come up with the song's concept?
Sometimes you're in a relationship and it's not like you're fighting over something negative. You can just be arguing over little things, something small. Sometimes you can just apologize and it will wipe away the whole thing. It'll help the situation. You might not feel like you're in the wrong. Sometimes you lose that battle on purpose to win the war. Just like when you play checkers – to win a game, you have to give up a few men as a strategy so you can win the game.
I thought it was interesting that you started Love's Crazy with the 23rd Psalm. On an artistic level, what does that passage mean to you?
I'm glad you asked that question. At a particular time in my life, I was about to give up music altogether. I had a lot of people telling me what I couldn't do. "You're doing it too late. Nobody's going to take you seriously. You're too young to be a CEO." All kinds of craziness, you know what I mean? I had so many of them around me that I started doubting myself. Can you imagine that? Even though I had been standing on my talents for the last 10-12 years… I was like, "Man, maybe I'm reaching too far. Maybe, I don't know. Maybe no people would want to hear from me. Maybe nobody would want to hear anything, period. Maybe the game has changed and it's on to the new whatever. Maybe I need to find another hustle or whatever." I was blessed I have great investments making money otherwise. I have the passion for music. I wanted to start my own label and I wanted to do it on an independent scale. You can draw up R&B records and you'll have the same punch as a major label but still make the independent money and still touch everybody worldwide. Independent-wise, you're looking at mostly hip hop artists that run their regions. If they've done really good in that region, they make a lot of money. I say, "Why not do it all across the world? Why not R&B artists? Why limit it to just that?"
When I started, a lot of people said no. I got a lot of that. So anybody who knows me, I'm spiritual. It's the way I live. One of the Scriptures that I hold very dear to me is the 23rd Psalm. Once I got my mind in the right direction, I started putting people around me who were really for my best interest – not just business-wise but personally cared about me. When I started reading the Bible, I started reading the Scriptures and really just grounding myself back where I need to be. I was just building myself back up because I got torn down a lot. The one thing that struck me was the 23rd Psalm. Usually when I hear those naysayers, craziness and negative stuff going on, they could be screaming negative stuff and people would be like, "Why is Slim smiling? Every time we see Slim, he's smiling. He's always positive. He's always happy." Welcome to my world. The Lord is my Shepherd, I should not want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It's bigger than man, it's bigger than me. Every night, I put all my problems and all that I'm going through in God's hands. I put it on His shoulders and I feel like as long as He got my back, I'm so good. I felt like I wanted people to understand not just great music but how Slim is as a person also. You're learning the music but you're learning how Slim is, too. That's why I started with the 23rd Psalm.
Behind every great success, there is always an unpublicized testimony filled with trials and tribulations. In recent times, what is the biggest hurdle that you had to overcome?
Well, I just think this whole situation with the label – that was a big struggle, I was about to completely walk away from the music business. I went to Australia. I was completely beat up. I went to Bondi beach and I sat there. I literally went away – not run away, but I had to get away to really make the proper decision. I had to put myself together. When I went to Australia, I went to a radio station. Somebody recognized me and said, "You want to come to my radio station? What are you doing out here? What's next for you?" I said, "I don't feel like I'm going to do music." I was talking really crazy. Then the fans called in and I promise you I probably got 15 minutes of the most aggressive lashing of why I should have never said that. They were like, "Man that was the most selfish thing you said. Don't you know what your music has done to my life? The music you're responsible for helped me in a positive way. How could you take that away? God gave you that ability. How could you say you're going to stop it?" That was crazy. This was Australia. A particular fan said, "You need to learn to love music again. You need to get the love for the music part again. You let the bull of the industry get to you instead of what was the real reason you were chomping it in the first place." It was crazy to hear these from fans. I was like, "Okay. When I thought people weren't listening, they really are listening." You just got to give them something to listen to.
I said, "Okay. You know what, Slim? Instead of doing it, do it big. Go Frank Sinatra style, do it your way." So instead of just getting a regular major deal, I said "Oh, no. I'm going to get my own label deal. I'm going to do it independently. I'm going to start all over again. I'm going to reinvent myself. Everything that people were telling me not to do, I'm going to do it. When they frowned at you before, you smile back at them. When they curse you, bless them." God bless them. Pray for them. Now when you're rising, it's a great uncomfortable feeling – not on my end but on the end of the people that I look at. They know what they said to me at the beginning. The same people that wrote stories on me and said, "He's washed up. He's this and that." When "So Fly" hit the Top Ten, then what happened? Now, I'm all about being consistent and really making this label to be the next Def Jam, the next Interscope, the next Arista – that's what I'm trying to do. I'm on that goal right now and I'm just going to keep it consistent. I'm going to keep it moving.
I'm definitely appreciative of the fact that you stuck around. In terms of R&B and the current landscape of R&B, there definitely hasn't been a group, especially a male group, like 112. You definitely were a blessing to the industry and to fans. When you enter the studio now, does it feel awkward at all when you look over your shoulder and expect Mike or Q or Daron to be there?
Well, it started like that a long time ago, when I first started the music way before the album. I started doing the music before the album just to get the love of the music back. I think probably the first couple of sessions, yeah, it was a transition. I didn't have a Q where he mastered the background. I had to change my whole mind thing in the situation. When I stepped in with 112, you're doing whatever it takes to make the 112 sound. I had to play my part. As soon as I put in my mind that "I'm not making a 112 record, I'm making a Slim record," then everything started working right. Everything started working. It didn't take but a couple of sessions. Now, it's a piece of cake.
By most accounts, you are regarded as the front man of 112. Taking that role into account, how did it help you develop your own solo career?
I think my individuality stood up for itself. I was the front man with a very distinctive voice. I was the one that really made it very easy to distinguish 112 from any other group in the world. As far as my personality is concerned, I'm very charismatic. I'm very out there. That's just how I am. I'm very optimistic and very positive. I definitely believe in what happens onstage is what happens offstage. You never heard anything negative on Slim – nothing in my personal life, nothing in my musical life. A lot of people say, "That's boring. Sometimes you need a little roughness to feel your character." I don't necessarily see it that way. If you're a cool cat and that's the way you choose your life and that's how you want to be known, I think that's the way I want to be. If anybody wants to make a movie about me, there's not too much to be said. That's the reason why business-wise, a lot of good things is happening. I don't go through the same holes that everybody goes through because I treat everybody right. I never take anybody for granted. I treat everybody the same way. I'm a straight-shot man. I'm a real man. Either I love you or I really don't mess with you. I'm not a hypocrite. I don't stand on the fence and that's exactly what it is. What you see is what you get.
Having experienced a great deal of success in the past as a member of 112, what mark do you want to make as a solo artist?
Right now I am launching my label, M3 Productions. I have a great partnership with Asylum Records – and that is history in itself, because I'm the first R&B artist they have ever signed. I'm definitely doing business on an independent scale. On the long term, I'm trying to make M3 the next Def Jam.
What is the symbolism behind that the label's name: M3?
Well, I have three sons. Their names all start with the letter M. Basically, I'm all about creating a legacy. I want to give them a better chance toward their future, you know what I mean? I don't care what they want to do in life, but I want my boys to have something they can fall back on. One of my sons is definitely into music. I told him instead of signing into a label, he has the choice of being a CEO and signing people to his own label.
As the CEO of M3 Productions, what artistic freedoms do you have now that you didn't have in the past?
It's a major difference. Financially, most artists get 75, 80 cents to a dollar on every album. I'm making $6 to $7 a record. Basically, I know exactly where every dime is being spent. I'm making the decisions. I own my own master. I'm able to shop for publishing deals and everything. I have no middle man. Now, everything is broken down the way I want it. When 112 was signed with Bad Boy – at that time it was Arista – all of the profits flowed from Arista to Bad Boy, Bad Boy to the production deal that we were assigned to, then from that production deal to 112. There are so many hands in there. In this situation, I put together my own staff and pretty much everything is set. Creatively, my foot is halfway on the street and halfway in the mainstream. It's easy to go out and listen to what the consumer wants to hear. I think that's the way labels should be run – when you understand that the DJ makes the world go round when it comes to music and it's really the people out there that decide what records are hot. When you're hot on the street then you're hot on the radio.
Is there specific advice that someone might have given you that shaped the course of your career that you could pass on to others?
Well, I would tell any artist, any producer, any writer to really perfect your craft. I want to encourage people to invest in themselves, to brand themselves, make a name and a legacy for themselves. Instead of making other people more money, try to figure out how to put money into your own pocket. The work you put in is what you're going to get out of it. When you believe in yourself like that – if you're trying to make your own brand and your own legacy in this industry – I guarantee you in the long run, you'll be much happier and you'll probably reach your goal.
For more information on Marvin "Slim" Scandrick, visit his MySpace page.