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juslisen to musiq

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"I love music and it would have been dope if that was my real name, so I decided to call myself by my first love."

Dressed in a two-tone long-sleeve tan shirt, faded jeans, Timbalands, and his signature shades, the laid-back 24-year-old exudes confidence. Even on the heels of his highly anticipated sophomore release, Juslisen (Def Soul), Musiq isn't preoccupied with the idea of "the dreaded sophomore jinx." And why should he be? His current single "halfcrazy," an impassioned follow-up to his 2000 hit "Just Friends" about a love jones gone awry between two best friends, is heating up the airwaves and blistering his competition. "The sophomore jinx doesn't exist -- I just don't believe in it," says Musiq nonchalantly. "I am concerned with sales to a degree because the more records I sell, the more opportunities I get, the more opportunities I get, the more potential I have to express myself."

And his music has afforded him enough opportunities and several accolades including a Grammy nomination, Soul Train, BET, and four Billboard Awards. There was a time when Musiq's great fortune seemed like a distant dream. "There was a moment where I didn't have a place to stay and wasn't taking care of my body because I was not practicing proper health habits," says the crooner. "Music has always been an inspiration to me and has helped me through tough points in my life."

Juslisen, a combination of funky, up-tempo and gentle beats, juxtaposed with soul-stirring ballads, delivers Musiq's signature platinum-formula of earnest lyrics and seductive production. His next single, "dontchange," an endearing serenade about learning to love beyond the physical is sure to keep his fans devoted. ESSENCE.com cozied up to Musiq at Def Soul's Manhattan offices and discovered why he dropped the second half of his moniker "soulchild", his ideal woman (no, he and India.Arie are just friends), and his interest in a film career.

Your new album is hot and definitely a collector's item for lovers. Tell us a little about Juslisen and how you've evolved since your debut?
Juslisen is the sequel to Aijuswanaseing (I Just Wanna Sing) to let people know that {my career} is for real. It's not something that just happened and I got lucky. I worked really hard at {this}. I am more articulate in my points on this album. My writing partner, Carvin Hagins, and I just worked on taking it to another level. I was more conscious as far as the direction I wanted to go in and that was to follow the blueprint of Aijuswanaseing.

Your songs are so personal. Are any autobiographical?

"Halfcrazy" stems from a couple of real life situations, but that's not how the situation played out. All of my songs stem from autobiographical situations, but they are not autobiographical in their entirety. I might take a piece of what I've been through, a piece of what someone I know has been through, and if I knew you, a piece of what you've been through, and translate it to the song.

I see your name is simply Musiq now. Why did you drop the Soulchild?

I dropped it because it's a lot to live up to right now. Sometimes I'm still iffy about the name because I don't want to misrepresent it. I'm not taking it on as a title and I'm not claiming that I know all there is to know about music. Soulchild means being true to yourself and having both of those powerful words as names is a lot to live up to in the beginning stages of my career, while I'm progressing and aspiring to be more. I feel {like}] I should just take one day at a time and when I am really able to live out that idea, ,or personify being what a soul child is, I'll do that. So I am still Musiq Soulchild, but I'm just coming out as Musiq right now.

How would you approach a sister you wanted to kick it with and what type of woman are you down for?

Right now, I don't have a style. My game is defunct. I'm just chillin' for right now. I don't have time for anything. {If I had time}] I'd just keep it real and let the girl know where I am coming from. I am kind of desensitized to the whole impressing people tactic. You can work all day trying to look good to impress somebody and then you can do something that will make them forget about {all the good you've done}]. I want a woman who is real with herself, with me, even real in the fact that sometimes she's going to tell a few stories to make herself look good. I would like to find someone who is at least remotely close to that and then maybe we can get to know each other. As long as you hide behind stuff, you'll never really get to know that person. I need to find out who I am and what I want before I even begin to establish a substantial relationship with someone, otherwise it would just be chaotic.

If you had to choose a second career what would it be?

Anything creative. I like to do interesting and creative things. I'd probably be a filmmaker -- writing, producing, directing, a fashion designer, a painter, and a chef. I might even be a carpenter because I like wood. Yeah, I think I might be an architect or something like that. Every time I walk by something that's made out of wood it reminds me of a stage and I just wanna sing.

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