Matt B Talks About Music, Success In Japan, & Future Plans

Get to know the multi-talented artist

Photo: Angela Benson

Matt B is the type of artist that you can never predict what he’ll do next – he’s taken every unorthodox path possible and keeps surprising us with every new release. From majoring in architecture to scoring a record deal in Japan, his artistic journey feels like a movie script. Perhaps that’s the reason why we’re so drawn to his music – it’s far from the conventional style of R&B and keeps expanding to unexpected directions.

We had the chance to speak to the multi-talented artist regarding his background, music, and future plans, so grab some nachos and get to know the Matt behind Matt B.

Tell us about your background – what type of music did you grow up listening? What’s your guilty pleasure childhood record?

I grew up mostly listening to Christian music and didn’t know anything about pop culture until middle school. Being homeschooled didn’t help my case either. My first day of what people would consider “real school” was my first day of high school. I was very sheltered as a kid, and my parents micromanaged what my siblings and I listened to. If I had to choose a record, it would most likely be “I Get Around” by The Beach Boys. Lol

Was there any eureka moment in your life that made you want to pursue music?

A ‘eureka!’ moment for me would be my freshman year of high school. Although I remember wanting to be a musician since I was a small child, high school really put the nail in the coffin, so to speak.  I very vividly recall the end of my first semester. My two older brothers and I were supposed to sing at the school assembly a few days before Christmas Break. I remember being nervous the entire day, but also excited. Later that day, we finally hit the stage. Before we started singing, the entire auditorium went crazy. I heard people shouting my name at the top of their lungs with excitement for the very first time in my life. That was a lot for a 13-year-old to take in. After what felt like an eternity of adoration, we finally started singing. The crowd was so loud I could barely hear myself sing. It was in that moment that I was hooked!

What have been some of the toughest challenges you faced as a musician?

Nothing short everything. People always tend to have an opinion about what you could or should do better as a musician. I’ve learned through the years that opinions are like assholes. We all have them, and they all stink. I’ve been told everything from “I can’t sing” to “I will never make it in this industry”. At certain points in my career, I was down so long it felt like up to me (shout out to Drake lol). So now I don’t really take to heart what people say to me anymore. My ear are always open, and I listen. I just refuse to internalize it. Instead I do what I feel is right.

For someone who is new to Matt B, which three songs would you recommend for them to check out?

Thats actually a pretty solid question considering how big my catalogue is now. I’m all about musical diversity and taking people on a journey. So I would go with the following records:

1- Gimme Love: I picked this one because I love the Afrobeats genre, and this record shows that pat of me.

2 – Talk My Shit: I’ve always been a very confident person and this record exudes that confidence. It always shows another side of my artistry since i’m both rapping and singing in this record. Plus the musicality is so Chicago!

3- Losing You: A lot of people assume that I don’t have the vocal chops needed to be an R&B singer when they listen to certain records. This record ‘Losing You’ puts those assumptions to rest. It really shows off my vocal range and gives people a glimpse that I’m not to be played with vocally and can hang with the best of them.

Your music found massive success in Japan – why do you think your music resonated with Japanese listeners?

Honestly, I’ve been searching for the answer to that question for years. I keep changing my answer as I grow in my understanding of it. As of late I’d say that Japan and other cultures around the world truly embrace true R&B. They appreciate the dedication and effort that goes into mastering the craft of this genre, which is reflected in their eagerness to consume the music. I’m just happy I can be a part of that story.

Do you plan to visit Japan anytime soon?

I do! My team and I had an entire tour we were mapping out for 2020, and then the pandemic hit. Now that things are starting to open back up again, I’m excited to execute our plan from a few years back.

Let’s talk about “One & Only” ft. Oxlade. The video is absolutely gorgeous – who came up with the concept of the video?

My video director, PhillyFlyBoy, and my manager, Angela Benson, worked together on the concept for this one. Often times me and/or someone else from my team will come up with the idea and then everyone starts pitching in. Fine tuning it, making tweaks to it until we are ready to film. Then the day of filming, there are always unexpected curve balls that happen where we have to adapt pretty quickly. That’s the great thing about being in control of your career. I have the ability to be less rigid. For “One & Only”, I remember saying I wanted it to look like we were in a beautiful part of Africa. I feel like we succeeded. 

What is your favorite lyric line from “One & Only” and why?

My favorite line would be the break down at the end of the song when I say the words “You know I love you”. This part speaks to my spirit for several reasons. It brings the songs together and summarizes what I’ve been looking for. The way I belt out the harmonies was really special, and felt like ear candy. The icing on the cake was when Oxlade freestyled adlibs over it all. I had that one part on repeat for weeks.

What do you hope listeners will take away from “One & Only”?

That I am more than just R&B, I am art. I love having the freedom to be diverse and express myself in whatever way I feel fits at the time. I don’t like to be in a box, and I don’t have to be. I do music that feels right to me, and expresses my current situation. My journey into finding out more about my heritage really inspired me and helped to give birth to this song and my upcoming project. This record is a glimpse into the music that lives in me.

What are your plans for the rest of 2022?

I am currently finishing up my Afro-beats project. I also am planning to drop a ton of music this year and moving forward. I hope that in the process of all of this unfolding, it would be amazing to achieve my dream of winning a Grammy. One thing is for sure though—this is my decade as an artist. My future is bright, and I can’t and won’t be stopped.