Adrian Marcel Rises With Raphael Saadiq, Talks Love for Oakland and ’7 Days of Weak’ [Exclusive Interview]
Adrian Marcel may be considered a newbie in R&B with his recent mixtape, ’7 Days of Weak,’ but the Oakland-based 22-year-old singer knows what he wants when it comes to music.
“When you think about what it means, you’ve got rhythm and blues, and in my opinion, I have heard blues in a long time. So I think it’s something everyone goes through at the end of the day. Everyone falls in love. Everyone falls out of love. One moves on then finds love again. That’s just the way of the world,” Marcel tells TheDrop.fm.
While the dapper gentleman enjoys the occasional dance floor-ready tune, he opts to create music from a more relatable place.
“Now all I hear is a lot of clubbin’ and poppin’ bottles and stuff. And to be honest, there are some great songs, and that’s true. Everybody’s out on Friday and Saturday clubbing it out, but that’s not every day,” he explains. “That’s not what I do and not what I relate to. I relate to emotions. I relate to relationships and what happens in relationships. And I think, even with the illustrations, there’s a funnier side to reality. People go through these relationships, and that’s why I feel it was so necessary to add these extras on it.”
And this confidence streams throughout the mixtape. Marcel wanted to go big on the effort and included intros, outros and interludes that give the record some “sugar and spice.”
“That’s something I wanted personally,” he shares. “Like you go get an album or a project, you want to hear a body of work, not just songs. I can easily go to iTunes and put a playlist together of the best songs and say it’s an album. But no, it has to feel like a storyline and feel like it’s going somewhere. It has to have a beginning, middle and end to it. So I think that’s why it has to have its own little illustrations to smooth things out.”
Although Marcel did work hard on ’7 Days of Weak,’ we can’t overlook his connection to R&B veteran Raphael Saadiq, who ended up taking Marcel under his wing and produced songs on the project. Both from the same West Coast area and sharing the same love for music, the young singer said that the partnership was kismet.
“My manager was doing some business with him and played him some of my music,” he reveals. “He took a liking to it, and a few weeks later, I flew up there. To be honest, I didn’t know what it was and went in thinking I was just going to meet Ray. I mean I get to meet one of my big inspirations, and that in itself was a moment for me. Then we sat and talked for hours, and the chemistry was just natural. We come from the same neighborhoods — East Oakland — and it was a similar respect we have for each other. And our music attracted us to each other. It was an instant marriage honestly.”
Marcel’s cool and collected aura seems to be something that that he was born with. Growing up, he remembers watching the 1998 film, ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love,’ which is centered on the life of singer Frankie Lymon and the three women he was involved with. Despite the storyline, Marcel really focused on music and style of the film — probably giving him the swagger he has today. “I just took that movie to the ball,” he reveals. “I would want to wear the suits, do the dances, sing the songs and even do the splits.”
After realizing that he had the potential to take his music to the next level, he made sure to work at his craft as hard as he could, especially in Oakland, Calif., where he feels that if he’s been able to make it there, he can do anything.
“Oakland is one of the most competitive cities that I’ve been in,” Marcel says. “I’ve seen a lot of things and been to a lot of places, but I never got what I got like what I got from Oakland. It’s so real. It’s so rich in culture, and people aren’t afraid to be themselves. You’re going to meet different people. And everybody’s got to hustle and make it. You have to fight to get through. I think that’s what gave me the confidence to do music for so long. Just being from that city, it gives you a certain certainty that you can do. If you could make it in Oakland, you can make it anywhere.”
While some see Oakland as being a rough place to live, Marcel feels that there are good points to the city, especially when it comes to the arts community. Attending Oakland School for the Arts, he was able to hone his craft.
“There’s always a bad part of a city wherever you go,” he says. “And Oakland has a bad reputation for whatever, but there’s a lot of positivity out of Oakland that people don’t get to see. It’s rich in culture — not only musicians and vocalists but you also have people who draw, people who are into painting, all different genres of art. There’s just so many different things within the city that I’m so blessed to be a part of like the Oakland School for the Arts, which was my high school.”
“There are so many people who are trying to keep it up and build the curriculum, which I think is one of the best things going on right now. And I was blessed to be a part of that. There was the young musicians program at UC Berkley, and I was blessed to be a part of that.”
With so much love for his hometown, he’s grateful that it’s helped make him the man he is today. “I think even the grainier parts of the city did teach me how to handle myself, how to be confident in myself and be fearless,” he discloses. “As a person, you have to find the positivity in everything. I didn’t allow the ‘streets’ to break me down. I allowed it to give me more knowledge on top of the books I was reading. You just have to be well-rounded.”
Listen to Adrian Marcel’s ’7 Days of Weak’ Mixtape
Watch Adrian Marcel’s ‘I’m Still’ Video