Thursday, July 15, 2021

An Interview with Stokley formerly of Mint Condition

Multi-Grammy nominated Singer, songwriter, producer and musician 
Stokley has announced his upcoming sophomore album "Sankofa" via a partnership with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis' Flyte Tyme/Perspective Records and Bluraffe Entertainment. I caught up with the former Mint Condition frontman to discuss the album, collaborating with Snoop Dogg, H.E.R., the Coming 2 America film in which he re-imagines the iconic "Soul Glow" theme song from the original movie and much more.

Check out Stokley's current single and video "Cascade" featuring emerging Songstress The Bonfyre.

TERRANCE: First, congratulations on your Chart-topping hit single "She..." and your upcoming sophomore album Sankofa. How are you feeling about everything right now?

STOKLEY: Fantastic man. It's an amazing time and I'm just riding the wave man. It's an honor to still be out here doing it.

TERRANCE: How does Sankofa differ from your debut solo album Introducing Stokley?

STOKLEY: I think you'll see and feel the growth. I feel satisfied with it because I had enough time to kind of curate it and think about it over a year (laughs). So yeah, I think I got everything for what it is right now. There comes a time where I have to put the paint brush down and just let it be and let it live whether it wins, lose or draw. I feel good and it's already a success leaving my body and just getting it out of me. After that, it's someone's interpretation about how they feel about it and how it hits them in their life. Even if it hits somebody less than it does somebody else, I'm fine with that.

TERRANCE: Inform us about the origins behind the title and why you chose it.

STOKLEY: Sankofa is a Ghanaian term and it means to go back and get it. For me, it's what I came from and who I came from. There's a lot of music that reflects that. It has influences from the 80's, 90's, 00's and beyond. That's pretty much what it means and how I interpret it and give it back to y'all.

TERRANCE: I noticed with this album all of the songs are single word titles, which puts me in the mind of Prince's Come album. Was that intentional?

STOKLEY: (Laughs). My thing was I looked at the landscape of music today. I looked at modern day's society from people having short attention spans, so if they want to remember one thing, then boom! One word. The funny thing is, I only had a few songs like that in the beginning, so I said, wait a minute this could be a thing, so why don't I go ahead and name them all one word. It's funny you say that, because you're the only one so far that caught it. I just thought it would be something people could remember and I just tried to make it easy and a lot of times, people abbreviate things anyway, so that's just kind of how I looked at it. 

TERRANCE: What did you appreciate about what each artist brought to the album?

STOKLEY: They each have a unique sensibility. There was a certain kind of energy I missed. I was like, man I miss this kind of music from the 90's. So all I did was create what I wanted to hear. When I created "Vibrant", I only heard Snoop because I created something with that 90's feel. Snoop had that laid-back, fun, party feel, so we all know Snoop and that whole thing and his musicality and the way he let the word play. Of course, Wale has been one of my collaborators for the last few years. He's an amazing poet. Very deep thinker. His interplay, his wordplay and like I said, he's just a great poet. I love the tone of his voice and so he brings that element. H.E.R. is an amazing musician. I'm a supporter of her amazing gift and I'm glad she's getting the shine she's getting as a musician and you haven't even seen the beginning of her yet. This is just the preview, to me, this is the appetizer. She ain't even got started. So I really love and support that. My brother from the Continent of Africa that's doing it over there named KiDi. He has an amazing voice and amazing presence. His vibe and energy have that International flair, so he brings that. The Bonfyre brings a youthful but yet old soul sensibility to a really smokey kind of vibe and so I love that. My band Vu is on there with a few things showcasing songs like "Cafe". So I try to mix it up and get some different textures.

TERRANCE: How did you get involved with the iconic Coming 2 America film?

STOKLEY: Through the connection with Jam & Lewis. We were actually trying to get the title track "Sankofa" on there and while we were trying to figure out if we would get it on there, another song came through. They were like, well can you try your hand at this? And I was like, "Soul Glo"? So they sent it to me and we did it. We recorded the vocals and everything else. It was hilarious trying to get through the song, because the lyrics are just nuts. Hilarious. It was just an honor to be part of such Legacy. Eddie Murphy and all that he brings. It's a cultural moment and again it was an honor to be part of something so massive.

TERRANCE: This year marks the 30th Anniversary since Mint Condition's debut album, Meant to Be Mint. What are some fond memories being in the studio?

STOKLEY: There are so many memories with that. So many recordings that I can think about like for instance the Interludes with me and Chris "Daddy" Dave on the From the Mint Factory album on the Intro. Special moments like that are just groundbreaking. It was just an intro to what was coming, for me. It was a beautiful moment that we created. I think of songs like "So Fine", me and the creator of O'Dell and I just remembered the spirit hit me. You could just feel it through the music and the vocalization and all of that stuff. It was a moment that we were having in there. I remember when we did "Pretty Lady" and working with Uncle Charlie. It was our first time working with him on the Life's Aquarium album. Of course, the iconic classic "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)". Just amazing moments like that. Sittin' up playing in the room and doing our thing. I have so many memories. It's like a dream. I can't imagine doing it with a better cast of characters.  

TERRANCE: Could you see Mint Condition participating in a #Verzuz with anybody?

STOKLEY: Yeah, I don't know (laughs). I mean, I don't know how you do that, because for a little while we were pretty much the only band. There was nobody like us. On the way out was Tony! Toni! Toné! They were kind of there and kind of not, so they were kinda on their way out and we were kinda on our way in. So yeah, we were kind of a lone ranger man, but I think the music speaks for itself. The catalog is there when you want it. If you just want to chill, if you want to turn up or you wanna clean up or you wanna take a ride. All of these things are here for the healing, but yeah I'm very proud of it though.

TERRANCE: Can we expect any upcoming events or special appearances from the Sankofa era?

STOKLEY: I certainly hope so. You'll know pretty much when I know I guess (laughs), when things start opening up. We're all praying that this virus takes a turn for the better and I'm sure everybody's trying to have faith with these vaccines and whatnot. However we get there, I'm praying that we get there safe and together and the less people we lose, the better, so we can have a lot of these people around so they can continue experiencing living life to its fullest. After going through something like this, I think people appreciate what we have a little bit differently. So I think that right there I'm really looking forward to. I don't know when that will be. I guess whenever God deems that time, that's when it will be ready and when it clears, we'll all be out there to get with it.

TERRANCE: Overall, what do you hope listeners take away from the Sankofa experience?

STOKLEY: I just want them to be inspired. I want them to be reflective. I want them to experience some healing within it. I want them to experience some enlightenment. I want them to turn up. Again, if they feel like they need to clean up. I mean, in all of the areas you need to experience. I want them to journey through it. I want them to hear it more than one time and each time they hear it, I want them to hear something different that they didn't hear the first time. I want them to experience it in a few different ways. I take it seriously, the intention and detail and the layers upon layers. Some things are really simple, it is what it is. Like the song "Woman" which is self-explanatory. It's about uplifting women. I'll always be complementary to women because they are the greatest producers ever and no one would be here without them. So yeah, those things are just what they are. I want them to take away all the things man and just experience some healing and uplifting each one, you know? Heal the next one, but start from somewhere, so I'm glad to be a point of reference.

TERRANCE: Any final words you would like to share with longtime fans as well as new ones?

STOKLEY: If people want to figure out what's going on with me and where I'm at, they can come to @StokleyOfficial, that's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of those. I do a thing on Friday nights and Saturday mornings as well on under Sonichealer. It's all of my favorite songs, favorite energies and all the things I love that I invite my fans to. It's a show called Woke Wit Stoke from 12:30 central standard time till' 6 in the morning. We're just fellowshipping and just really healing from everything that's happening with the pandemic. It's just a place where people can come chill and heal. I want to also alert you that I have some Stokley swag coming, some Sankofa stuff coming, hats, t-shirts, hoodies, key chains, all that kind of stuff so that you can stay connected to what I'm doing. Also if you're a chiphead and want some good snacks, go to the smoked flavor, the original flavor and the balsamic flavor are amazing. So yeah, go and check it out and I don't think you will be disappointed. I just want y'all to have a good time and take care of one another and just stay safe.

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