Maxwell finally comes out of hiding.
Maxwell, you light-skinned bastard!
Sorry, was that too harsh? Well, excuse me, but I'm just a little miffed at the fact that I requested a phone interview with the elusive/reclusive singer a few weeks back and was turned down. At first, I understood, seeing as how the man has spent years not only out of sight, but out of sound. He's a notorious hermit--why start taking interviews requests now? Worth a shot, but no cigar. No bigs.
Then I see a lengthy Q&A he did for the Los Angeles Times. Now I'm just insulted! Oh, I'm not good enough for 15 minutes of your goddamn time? Is that the case, Gary Dourdan? I guess I'm not that important, huh? I've only been writing about black music extensively (including pieces speculating about when you were gonna get your caramel ass back in the studio, drop some new music and stop dicking around your fans) in this space for more than two years now.
Perhaps I shouldn't take this so seriously. Besides, I can't stay mad at Maxwell's high-yellow ass. He is back on tour, answering the prayers of so many of his fans. I guess after being lumped in with that brilliant neo-soul trainwreck D'Angelo in that now-infamous Spin article on D'Angelo's whereabouts a few months back, Maxwell needed everyone to know that he's okay and not pissing his life away somewhere.
According to what he told the Times (it still smarts!), Maxwell spent his downtime living the flipside of D'Angelo's much-documented downward spiral. While D'Angelo was drinking himself into oblivion, getting into trouble with the law and basically becoming a bloated mess, Maxwell took a breather.
"I needed to go live," he said about his break from the industry. "I loved waking up and doing whatever I wanted. Not worrying about how I looked or what I ate. It felt good not having expectations."
It appears spending most of the aughties doing jackshit can do wonders for a brotha's physical and emotional well-being. He certainly looked like a younger, fitter, even smoother Maxwell when the 35-year-old showed up out of nowhere at the BET Awards last June and paid tribute to lifetime achievement award recipient Al Green by doing a panty-moistening rendition of "Simply Beautiful."
This was obviously a taste of what was to come, as he eventually began hitting city after city this fall, satisfying audiences with classic and new tunes from his upcoming trilogy of albums Black Summers' Night, which he swears will appear on shelves next year.
And while a couple of my fellow soul-reporting colleagues have complained about ticket prices, nearly all of his shows have sold out. It looks like people don't mind paying an arm and leg to see him.
Now that Maxwell's reclaimed his place as R&B's most seductive eccentric, maybe those other soulful Greta Garbos--D'Angelo and Lauryn Hill--will follow suit and come out of hiding. D'Angelo has made baby steps by getting back into the studio and remaking "I Found My Smile Again," a track that appeared on the Space Jam soundtrack, of all places. (The original is still better.) But there's still no talk of a full-fledged album and tour.
Unfortunately, there's nothing new on the Lauryn front, unless you count Bronx rapper Mickey Factz taking her "Water" track from her MTV Unplugged 2.0 album and adding some new verses to it for his The Leak Vol. 2: The Inspiration mixtape.
I shouldn't be mad at Maxwell. I should be thanking him. As an entertainer who's been gone way too long, the only thing he should be doing right about now is performing. And he's doing lots of it. He has a legion of dedicated fans to corral, and stopping for questions may not be a requisite for his journey.
So keep on keeping on, Maxwell, you magnificent, light-skinned bastard!