Learning from The Sing-Off with Shawn Stockman

The Boyz II Men star and Sing-Off judge talks about his career and why he loves judging the popular singing competition.

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What are the hurdles of doing hip hop with a capella?

This whole competition now, as it gets deeper into it, obviously we’re narrowing it down to the best of the best and this is one of the moments where they have to really show their diversity. This is all about the Sony contract and scoring the record deal, so in order to get it they have to show that they can be diverse enough as an a capella group to do different styles of music. It’s already a hard enough job that they are doing an intricate form of music, in order to appeal to the masses they have to be able to do certain things that the masses enjoy. This is why we do the hip hop thing, to see if they can handle the pressure.

Is there anything that they will have to work on especially with their voices?

Well you know hip hop is drum and bass, they can’t be thin at all, they can’t sound like the Carpenters (laughs). No disrespect to the Carpenters, I love the Carpenters, but in this case they have to bring some attitude, just the feel or the flavor of hip hop.

Let’s talk Boyz II Men. What can people expect from your new album?

History, and I’m not meaning in that in a presumptuous way. Literally, it’s history, it’s our twenty years encompassed in one record. It’s a double CD that features the Boyz II Men classics, I guess you could say, I don’t want to sound presumptuous there either. Just the songs that people most know us for. We have those on one disc and we re-recorded them and added a little twist and flavors here and there, not too much because we didn’t want to [tick] anybody off who liked the originals. On another CD we have twelve original, brand new Boyz II Men records, and this is something we haven’t done in about nine years. So people will actually get a chance to hear new music from us and where we are musically. That’s what we’re most excited about. We’ve grown a lot vocally, we think that we’ve gotten a lot stronger. We always just try to make music that people can apply to their everyday lives. Music is practical, at least it should be, and we try not to make it too hard, too intricate, or too deep, at least not in the sense of the body of work. We try to create something where it’s palpable and people can feel it and just understand it and get into it for what it is. We feel like a lot of times when it comes to love and relationships, the best way to talk about it is simple (laughs). So everybody understands it. It’s bad enough that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, we try to even the playing field by expressing it in a way that both parties can understand it.


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