Savannah, Georgia's own Grammy-nominated artist Anthony David returns to music after a four-year hiatus with an album that has his fans flippin' their wig and also has him gaining traction with those who weren't privy to his previous discography. The Powerful Now is a sonic compilation of genres you simply wouldn't expect from David. Of course there's his signature gritty soulful tenor, but there are also facets of rock, Afrobeat, and reggae that he maneuvers through seamlessly.
Listening to the album, you can tell that David had fun during the creative process. It's a smorgasbord of uptempo and mid-tempo jams, along with a couple of slow jams to even out the field. The first single, "Beautiful Problem," is climbing the charts with its tight production, heavy bass, and parlay of life's juxtapositions. REVOLT chatted with Anthony David about the album and creative process behind four of our favorite tracks from The Powerful Now, which were pretty difficult to choose.
REVOLT: Let's start with "Ride On." You’ve always been vocal artistically about social issues. Why is this type of songwriting and storytelling important to you as an artist?
AD: I dunno. It’s just what I do. To me, you know, it’s funny — in my personal life, people are not very expressive, so I think this is the way I do it. It’s like you should know what I’m thinking about, and that applies from personal things to social things. I’m not a good speaker, know what I mean? So it’s something that really wouldn’t go across well in a speech, but I can communicate it that way.
REVOLT: Right — all in song. So then, I’ll go ahead and ask the cliché question: What would you say would be your inspiration for the song?
AD: Honestly, this one is one of the first songs I was messing with and I started out really just making the beat. I was on some Organized Noize kind of feel, you know? Actually, all I had was that first line, but I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I liked the beat and I liked where it was going. All I had was "Little boy…" and I was like, well what the hell are you talking about? (laughter)
Then my homeboy DeVon, who directed “Words” and “God Said,” was like, “Yo, I’m making this film on the Outcast Motorcycle gang that’s been around since forever, and I need some music for it.” And I was like that’s dope! That’s what this song is about! It really spun off of that. This one was total creativity and I ain’t never rode no bike either! (laughter) It was more like, tell me what the movie is about, give me some words that you want to use and I went with it from there. I did try to do that more on this album. Some things not really directly me, just having some fun.
REVOLT: Alright, let’s aim for "Booed Up."
AD: Yeah, that’s directly me.
REVOLT: Oh, this I know! I definitely had to touch this one because seriously — what is it with you and reggae? Particularly rockers? I remember a few years ago you did a wicked dub plate cover of Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic”...
AD: Ahhhhh! I don’t even think I’ve got that joint! My boy sent me the track and told me what to do, and I love the song. See now, that’s my favorite music — rockers and reggae. I like what they be saying, know what I mean? They talk about anything from some spiritual tip, talking about a woman... it’s just kinda chill, so I like to do that. I like that vibe.
REVOLT: You clearly just revived the Flex Riddim...
AD: Ahhh, I like that you get it! Some people are like, yo “Flex”? I’m like naaah, it’s just flex. Tonight is the night — you know, let’s just...groove.
REVOLT: Even with “Body Language” on As Above, So Below, when I heard that I was like, listen — I need you to create a Beres Hammond-type of album.
AD: That’s what I channel when I do that kind of stuff: Beres Hammond.
REVOLT: So who’s the angel Myla then? That voice…
AD: Myla is a dope singer/songwriter. I met her just around the city. I found out later that she had been on Making the Band back in the day. She must have been someone who was prominently featured, somebody everyone really noticed. I noticed her. She performed at an event I was at locally and she reminded me of [Faith Evans] with her voice and her swag and her — everything. She’s been a good friend and when I did the first verse, I was like this is a duet. I said I wanted to work with her, so I sent it, she ripped it and that was that!
REVOLT: You know I was going to touch on “I Don’t Mind.” I’m sorry, it’s the Caribbean vibes in my blood. You went in on the Afrobeat…
AD: Yeah, when I go out to new bars, I like to kick it with the Africans. Again, they listen to our music, but...you remember how our party music used to be? Even if it was Earth, Wind & Fire, even all the way up to say Guy or even Jagged Edge or whatever (sings “Where The Party At”), you know fun party stuff. Whereas now, our sh-t is just crazy. It’s too much “f-ck these hoes…” I mean, I get that sentiment, but not all the time and that don’t sound good coming from me anyway (laughter). If I hear someone who says it right in a song and I feel like that, then I get it and understand why you might make it. I just wanted to do something upbeat. I mean, I just like Afrobeat, so I knew it was going to happen. I did a remix to “Chop My Money” by P-Square. I did one to something by Dr Sid. Every Afrobeat song that I like, I would do a verse to it. So I knew that I had to get somebody who can make that beat. So Gypsy (Eddie Stokes), the guy that produced most of the album, I got him into it and he ripped it.
REVOLT: So that was — no pun intended because I’m going into “Inevitable”— but it was inevitable.
AD: Yeaaah, that was going to happen… (laughter)
REVOLT: I’m well aware that on your social media you’re sometimes kickin’ and pumpin’ to some soca as well, so I’m not surprised at all about the world music infusion.
AD: Yeah, I like culture. I mean, I’m black American and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of R&B, I’m proud of hip-hop, I’m proud of jazz, I’m proud of everything we do. But I simply just like what other people are doing. So you know, sh-t — I’m doing it.
REVOLT: The Powerful Now is a makeup of various genres of music — rock, Afrobeat, soul. Because it is such an array of genres, what did you want the album to reflect and convey?
AD: Moments. Freedom. Not being tied down to certain things. Each one is a powerful now. Moments over the years where I took my time ... like if I’m in an African club and I said, "Ohhhh, I would love to share something with these folks because they gave me something." I used to be in a rock band, so I like the Foo Fighters and sh-t like that. The bar that I eat at all the time down the street from my crib are mostly white people rockin’. We live in this age and this era where we have this access to so much — so you know, soak it up.
You can cop The Powerful Now at your favorite music spot.