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“This gon’ be your favorite song…” When you hear these words from Eric Bellinger, you already know it’s going to be a banger. With his most recent singles “Type A Way” featuring Chris Brown and “Moist” featuring K Camp, as well as new features on Nieman J’s ”Blessed” and Joe Moses’ “Cheat Code Mode,” the Los Angeles native proves he still has his foot off the gas pedal.
The recording artist first entered the industry by writing songs for some of music’s elites, which include Usher’s “Lemme See,” Tank’s “You Don’t Know,” Justin Bieber’s “Right Here,” and Chris Brown’s “New Flame.” The latter earned him his first Grammy nomination for best R&B album back in 2011.
Almost one decade later, the 33-year-old’s values remain the same. Family is number one, with music coming in as a close second. Through his work, Bellinger gives us hope that real R&B will never die. His music arrives in the form of club smashes and romantic ballads.
Whether you’re listening to Eric’s Meditation Music or his most recent projects Cuffing Season 3 or Saved By The Bellinger, there’s no doubt you’ll love his style. His passion for creating art is deeper than just the surface level accolades. The star makes music because he loves it. That same dedication has resulted in his name being a mainstay in the R&B realm.
REVOLT caught up with Bellinger to discuss working with Chris Brown, his own YFS label, his single “Say Less” with manager Nieman, the importance of family, and more. Read below.
What sets you apart from other R&B artists?
The fact that I’m telling them my story. My truth. When you hear me, it’s something that I’ve experienced and I know how to articulate at the highest level. The hits that I’ve written before me prove it.
“Type of Way” is such a bop. How has your relationship with Chris Brown evolved over the years?
Man, crazy yo! I remember the first session I had with him. I was in London, they said, “Chris Brown wants to get in tomorrow, we’re flying you back.” Literally landed to hella text messages and emails like, “Come back!” I was already on a plane. Right when I landed, I got there like, “Yo, we’re sending you back home.”
How was that session?
Fire, it was the fire-est session ever. I was hyped to be able to be called for that type of session. That’s what separates the aspiring artists from the potential songwriters who can really be innovative and change the world because you just shoot when you’re at the crib. But, when you’re right there and the artist is there, when the A&R’s there and the manager’s there, then they can hear not only your songs, but what you’re capable of doing.
What can we expect from your new single “Say Less” with Nieman?
”Say Less,” people will be able to feel that feeling of affection. The essence, the aura of smooth. Think Robin Thicke “Lost Without You.” Same type of simple drum patterns. Falsetto.
You’re still producing, too, when you’re in there?
Yeah, producing too. Especially now because I play guitar and bass.
You learned that recently?
Yeah, every week for the past two years. I’m in guitar class no matter what.
How is it?
It’s amazing, man. I always have heard melody, but now I need to find the notes on the guitar. Find the chords and how to play what chord. When you already have an ear for it, it’s easier for you, especially when you want to learn it. If you want to do anything, you’re going to do it. If you want to make it to the party Friday at 9 pm, you’re going to be there. It’s the same type of dedication you have to have for instruments. Just show up. Once you’ve learned it a little bit, all it is is repetition... The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Are you busting out the guitar at your shows?
I have. I did one tour where I did guitar the whole time. Acoustic. I had someone with me though, of course.
How important is family to you?
Family is my foundation. Family is what I always really wanted even before music because I saw that growing up. I saw my mom and dad being high school sweethearts, and grow to be married for 25 years. That’s what was normal to me. So, any time I was in a relationship, I was always looking for that one to be the one... Once when I knew it was time, it’s like, “Let’s do this.”
Congrats on your new son. How was round two?
Round two is a load. Especially with it being a baby and we’re still in the mode where he’s not sleeping all night. Ooh, that time is crazy.
What’s the significance of your upcoming project title, Optimal Music?
Man, Optimal Music is the ultra, the highest form of maximum everything. Just the word optimal, the maximum of the maximization in the music. Both powers combined: Eric Bellinger and Neiman Johnson. Whenever we link up on something, it’s always extra special. From his brains to my talent to us merging together and trusting each other, the balance produces greatness every time.
Back in the day, it was a lot more me and Neiman produced. Once I got to a certain point, it’s like, “Alright, I’m Eric Bellinger. I know what I want to say…” Not necessarily kick him out. It was also him [saying], “Okay, you got this. I’m out of here. I’m about to go build some other businesses.” To now come back together and reunite on a project, it’s dope. It’s been fun to be able to trust the process.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur on top of making music?
Entrepreneurship is necessary. It’s business because you have to have multiple streams of income, man. With music only, it’s cool to build and establish. But, once you’re established, I wouldn’t say to do a million things if you haven’t reached a certain point of satisfaction. You have to focus on one thing, but once that shit’s like, “Alright, we’re good,” play with the other desires and imagination that you may have. If it’s a passion especially because I look at it like, now that my music has taken me to where I am now, I can use this in my lane still. I don’t have to go all the way back from ground zero. I can use the resources and invite my friends...to join me over here. You can piggyback as long as it’s something that you’re doing.
People look at us as a business and a brand now anyway. They look at me for music, but at the same time, the world wants to know what you’re doing. Where you at? Who you with? Who you’re dating? What car you driving? Where your house at? They want to know the inside scoop, so much that I’m like, “Alright, I’ma give it to y’all.” I be over here shopping a lot. Not even shop to floss, but build a collection. To me, it’s that much of a hobby. Now, I’m over here building a studio: Motown Hitsville. My studio is for artists — to be able to break artists. There’s a dance room, multiple studios. Three studios, a workout area, a gym, everything you can think of. A writing area, it’s everything in the house. I want to break artists. I want to give people a shot. Not necessarily the ones with the craziest numbers, but the ones with the craziest talent.
Talk about opening your 2090 store on Melrose.
Man, the shop’s incredible. We just started, I locked in the lease in February. Black History Month, yeh yayyy! I opened up the doors March 1. I had the grand opening to my friends and family. March is my birthday month, so it’s a big thing for me to be in there [that] month.
Talk about your own label YFS.
YFS: Your Favorite Song Records. I’ve been signed to YFS for the duration of my entire career — since 2010. We gave ourselves an entire decade to figure out the exact way to do it. I look at YFS as the capability of a major label by far. We have so many relationships. We have so many failures that have turned to lessons. Doing it our own way made us stronger, made us last longer. Gave us the leverage to know our value.
I want to be able to empower the youth. I want to be able to give people who really need an opportunity a chance because I look at it like there’s a gateway to success. You need someone to open that door. You need someone to give you a chance. You need someone to give you a shot. I want to be at least one source that people know they can look to, that’s about the real. Always has been, always will be.
Any acting endeavors in the works?
Yes, I actually did my first movie called Street Dreams: Los Angeles. Came out a couple months ago, check that out. You can watch it online... It was so fun! So different. So challenging in a way that caused me to build confidence from a place I didn’t have. I just had to do it rather than working at it. It built a respect for the craft. I did it, but I know I could do it so much better. I want respect. It might be cool, I might be hard on myself because I want to make sure that I’m not playing with it... I want to kill that shit.
You could just play yourself in movies.
That’s what I’m saying. Nah, I need to do some action scenes. I need to yell. I need to get out of my comfort zone for a minute because I’m chill. I’m meditation vibes.
What character was it?
I was a gang dude, a drug lord. I was yelling at people. For me, I’m really not going to yell at you. I’m never going to yell. You could do whatever you do, I’ma let you do all that like, “I feel you dawg.” That might have been the first time I yelled.
Even when you’re really mad, you don’t yell?
No one’s ever pissed you off? This industry is full of bullshit.
Yeah, but I’m never going to yell at you... I’m too cool for that. It’s that meditation. Meditation is the cheat code! I have an album called Meditation Music, give it a listen. It’s 20 minutes long, five songs. Some of it’s guidance, some of it is me talking. It’s dope.