After 10 years without a new album, legendary R&B quintet Silk prepares to release Quiet Storm via Silk Entertainment/Shanachie Entertainment on March 18, 2016. Once again, R&B fans have an opportunity to be captivated by the group’s sensuous sounds and harmonies. The album is another classic from the group we have come to expect to offer artistic touchstones.
SoulTrain.com had the good fortune to speak with two of Silk’s members, Gary “Big G” Glenn and Gary “Lil G” Jenkins.
SoulTrain.com: What distinguishes Silk from past and present R&B groups?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: When we first started, Jodeci and Boyz II Men had already established themselves as successful in R&B. We made a conscious effort to establish ourselves somewhere between Jodeci and Boyz II Men—to combine what both groups do well into one group. We go out of our way to emphasize the harmonies as much as possible as a unit, and we have lead singers who have distinctive voices. We work really hard to cover the gamut musically.
SoulTrain.com: Although your fans don’t want you to end your music career anytime soon, how do you hope your group’s legacy will be remembered?
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: That we stayed true to ourselves as a unit, we stayed true to our fans in creating the type of R&B music that we created all throughout our entire career, to know that we have [pleased] all of our fans, friends, and listeners as an original five-member unit for even 5 to 10 years from now.
SoulTrain.com: Many groups split apart for various reasons. How have the original five members of Silk been able to remain together since 1992, when “Freak Me” experienced such great success?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: We enjoy what we produce together as musicians and artists. We have grown and become family. In the relationship, we have learned to compromise and have learned to put the needs of one another before one’s own. I think we have just mastered the element of being brothers who have a common goal that’s bigger than each of us, and we collectively find a way to tap in to that.
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: Yeah, we’ve learned how to understand one another. In any relationship, it is important to be able to understand one another so that you will know how to interact with that person. There is a certain camaraderie that has to be in place. It was said to me before that’s why a lot of the female groups fall apart just as soon as they come together, and it’s just something about [men]—some of us understand that element of camaraderie. We also deal on a very democratic system. Being able to do things in a democratic way alleviates any singular emotion or distress from damaging the group as a whole. We know if we are out-voted on something, we have to just suck it up and go. We learned from the best coming up. You know, we had the Temptations, The Four Tops, The O’Jays—all of those groups were close to us and we had them as mentors. In watching how they did it, we formed our own image, entity, and unit, and it just so happened to take off so well that if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. We don’t change a lot. We may add a few special ingredients but we keep the main base of that cake.
SoulTrain.com: What, if any, differences do you see between the music of the 1990s and the music being produced now?
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: A lot of people complain about the content of the music being produced today. As Silk, you know, we have this sensuous, sexy image from the women. Music of today has no foreplay. It’s all one-play. And that’s the element that we have fortunately been able to maintain so that our core fan base is staying with us, and we are able, in a sense, to teach the young bucks what it’s really supposed to be about when it comes to relationships—physical, mental, all aspects of relationships. A woman likes to be caressed, she likes to be held, she likes to be told that she’s beautiful. She just doesn’t want you to come in and say, “Hey, how are you doing?” and then bang, bang, bang. Words are so important because 95% of the relationship is the mind anyway. Once you captivate the mind, you can go a long way. It’s the poetry of music. Music is only poetry put to notes. The best way to get a woman is with that poetry.
SoulTrain.com: Who are some of the artists who have had the greatest influences on your work?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: I think that’s part of what makes us unique, too. It’s a wide-ranging list of artists: from Prince and Michael Jackson to New Edition, Commissioned, the Winans, the Temptations, and Keith Sweat. We came up at a time listening to hip-hop music—Dr. Dre and Snoop—while traveling. An array of music has influenced our work.
SoulTrain.com: In your view, why are there so few current black male singing groups that have national notoriety?
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: I think “Big G” said it best to me earlier today, that when the hip-hop genre came in, it kind of took over in a sense. Hip-hop and even in the R&B realm came to be more available to singular artists, and it kind of got away from the doo-wops, quintets, and quartets. For some reason, under the radar, there were some guys trying to put groups together, but for some reason or another they were not afforded the opportunity to shoot out there because all of the hype was basically put on the hip-hop genre and the elements of that. Monetary situations, record labels dwindling, and artist development going to the left have hindered many black male singing groups from arriving on the national scene. The more people you have, the more money has to be devoted to them. Many elements have come into play to prevent more black male singing groups from being on the national stage, including piracy. This is why the door has been opened for us to come in. With R&B being on the upswing, there’s a hunger for it.
SoulTrain.com: One of the tracks on your forthcoming album, Quiet Storm, is “The Quiet Storm.” What exactly is “the quiet storm” the song references?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: Usually “the quiet storm” is a place that feels good musically, and people are able to share it. “The quiet storm” usually comes about during “the musical storm,” so to speak, and a quiet passion emerges during the musical storm. It can be interpreted in a number of ways but “the quiet storm” usually feels pretty good. If you’re riding and listening to “the quiet storm,” it’s a good day. If you’re at home and with your girl, and the “quiet storm” music comes on, you can groove to some feel good. With “The Quiet Storm,” we are ushering you into some feel good music.
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: And it’s also nostalgic in a sense. If you remember, every radio station back in the ‘90s had “a quiet storm.” We wanted to do something nostalgic to take it back. This is to say this is us now but it’s still us.
SoulTrain.com: On “Love 4 U 2 Like Me,” the album’s lead single, you say, “Experience makes you a better man.” What are some of the ways experience has made you a better man?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: Experience teaches you patience. Experience teaches you when it’s time to turn the passion on and when to bridle the passion. I think all of those attributes are important to pay attention to in whatever form of a relationship you have—whether it’s a one-night or a lifelong commitment—you have to pay attention to all of that stuff to get to whatever is your goal for that moment.
SoulTrain.com: Also, “Love 4 U 2 Like Me” advocates “taking things slow” in intimate relationships. Why is this such an important message? What advice can you offer to help a person identify when he or she isn’t “taking things slow?”
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: Anything worth having is worth working for and waiting for. If you take it slow, you have an opportunity to learn everything you need to know about the other person: their dislikes, their wants, their needs, what makes them happy and vice versa. When you get to know each other, you get to decide before you jump right into it. Taking things slow helps you to avoid jumping right into a relationship with a lunatic. I know when I’m doing too much based on how I used to be. Sometimes when you’re younger, you jump right into things and you’re too giddy and end up having a bad experience after that, so you have to learn from your lessons.
Gary “Big G” Glenn: You know you’re doing too much when she acts like you’re doing too much.
SoulTrain.com: Quiet Storm’s “She’s The One” emphasizes the importance of men showing their special ladies how much they appreciate and value them. What are some ways guys can successfully communicate to their ladies just how much they cherish them?
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: Drop your pride and just say it. Women are not going to ask you to do it—they are going to just expect you to do it. They know when they feel that you are not appreciating them. However, don’t lie about it if you don’t feel it.
SoulTrain.com: How will consumers who purchase Quiet Storm benefit from it?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: I think we do a good job of covering the different gamut of emotions and relationships. I just think it’s the kind of CD that you can stick in while you’re riding with your woman, and you will hear some things that will help you in the relationship and you will hear some things that will feel good enough to the both of you to ignite some things. Some people call our music “baby-making music.” We make love music and we make music to make love to. You get both of those benefits whenever you get a Silk album.
SoulTrain.com: Will you make more albums after Quiet Storm?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: Absolutely. I think that’s one of those things that has come out of us being away musically, as far as making albums. We realize that we don’t want to stay away as long as we did again, and we really enjoy what we do with each other. We are committed to doing more albums and releasing them more frequently. We are more committed to giving our fans more of what they want from us and that’s the music.
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: Also, this album is welcoming everyone back into the world of Silk.
SoulTrain.com: Music critics are constantly assessing whether artists are “still relevant” for the period in which they are situated. In a time when we have senseless murders of innocent black lives in public spaces, widespread terrorism, and increasing racism, sexism, and poverty, how can and/or does your art speak to some of these issues we currently confront?
Gary “Big G” Glenn: As you know, we just lost Maurice White, the lead singer for Earth, Wind & Fire. There’s a song that they did that’s one of my favorites, “After the Love is Gone.” With all of this stuff that’s going on right now, it’s because the love is gone. What we are known for is love in every aspect. We’re trying to spearhead bringing the love back so that it will hopefully spread across the masses and everyone will have a real good, good feeling. Maybe we can be of some assistance in trying to turn everybody’s minds away from being in a rut, from being angry and disgruntled in this world.
SoulTrain.com: What advice do you have to offer to those who wish to become recording artists?
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: Hard work. If you want it bad enough, you have to be even more passionate about it nowadays because nobody’s looking out for you. You got to look out for yourself. It’s a very selfish industry now, and you got to stay true to yourself. You have to build a thick skin. You cannot take care of anybody else before you take care of yourself. You have to build your brand by working extra hard on your craft. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need some assistance with something. If you don’t feel like you are as powerful of a singer as you can be, found out who can help you. There’s no dumb question—at all. They used to tell you that in school. Today, the labels look at how strong and resourceful you are in social media and then they will come calling. You have to be innovative to keep yourself in the eye of people.
SoulTrain.com: Do you have any final words you would like to share with our readers and your fans?
Gary “Lil G” Jenkins: Thank you for waiting patiently on us.
Gary “Big G” Glenn: And hopefully Silk brings you a lot of peace, love, and soul!
—Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
#TheSILKLetter From The Official Website of SILK