Musiq Soulchild Is A Rapper Now And I’m Annoyed » VSB

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Musiq Soulchild Is A Rapper Now And I’m Annoyed

Musiq Soulchild (Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)


The artist formerly known as Musiq Soulchild is now an Atlanta-based rapsinger who refers to his former self in the third person.

I know. I’m annoyed already, too.

Mr. 143 is no more (for now?). The artist formerly known as Taalib Johnson and Musiq Soulchild is now to be known as….

…wait for it…

The Husel. As in, “The Hustle.” In complete and total straight-faced seriousness.

Yes, my head hurts, too.

He’s starting over. That means approaching this persona like that of a brand new artist and working to completely separate his current self from his old, wedding-song-making self. This man’s dedication to differentiation is so strong that the hit-making brand he spent almost fifteen years building has been reduced to “the other guy.” He now rarely utters the name “Musiq Soulchild,” eschewing comparisons and mentions of his past. “This is something new,” he says often these days.

How serious is he about this departure? He told Gossip Viv, Hynaken, and DJ Thoro of Thisis50 Radio to expect a lot of autotune. And that T-Pain is his peer now. This is like when my Jovial Uncle met crack and lost it all. Where’s a praying grandmother when you need one?

While watching The Husel explain this transformation in interviews, I chuckled seeing him spin the tale of how this “side gig” (his words) came to be. His new incarnation is dedicated to the grind, the hustle. The Husel was born in response to what he feels is a valley in the popularity of his style of R&B. So don’t expect any classic sexy time tunes this go-round.

It appears Musiq saw that a formulaic bass-heavy club- and/or bedroom-centric jammy jam a day keeps the bill collectors at bay. This is a man who’s realized that catchy, trend-adhering bops outsell sappy love professions among the music-buying post-Teen Summit demographic in the 2000 and the 14. He’s simply following the paper.

Speaking occasionally in vague Jaden Smithisms, he alludes to his label’s disappointment with what they considered underperforming releases. Add a dash of Atlanta to the mix, and the benevolent Burger King of Hip Hop is born. Armed with an ever-present black leather BK Kids crown and his newfound handy-dandy satchel of marketable mediocrity The Husel is here to “give people quality content, in however many ways that [he] can actually pull off.”

Or something.

Translation: “Whether I sell a record or not, bills gon’ bill, and my grownfolkbootyrubjoints aren’t bringing in what they once did, so here we are. #ItsAllAboutTheBenjamins”

And that’s totally fine.

So it’s out with the black soap and the anthems for making sweet love down by the fire and in with the turn up jams for Generation VIP-Aspirant. Look, I’m all for artists evolving and heel-toeing down the road to get dem dollaz, but, I would be lying if I said seeing a great artist go full Trey Songz doesn’t hurt my heart.

Musiq’s catalog is damn strong. His first two albums still get regular play around these parts. His songwriting and feel-good grooves made his music timeless. Now, his classic love songs are on ice, at least while he plays Robin to T-Pain’s Batman. Seeing him go from “dontchange” and “Betterman” to “Grindin’” and itching to join hip-hop’s League of Extraordinarily Disappointing Gentleman is a great deal to take in, and, dammit, I may need a minute to adjust.

On his accrued fanbase as “that other guy”:

Hynaken: “How do you think your core— ”

The Husel: “That’s the thing,” The Husel interjects. “I don’t think about that. ‘Cause that’s not my core audience. That’s homeboy’s.” Alright, fine.

To recap: His label wasn’t getting jiggy with his musical offerings. As The Atlanta flows through his veins like Miley through BlacknessMart’s clearance section, he goes from Donny Hathaway-lite to getting his Iyanla on over a Mike Will Made It-adjacent beat spouting the same generic corner boy optimism that powered Ciara’s fake deep hood wisdom interludes on The Evolution.

The three tracks on The Husel’s soundcloud page could be by anyone. Imagine a Southern rapper starter kit, stocked with uninspiration, black shades for wearing indoors, and a few by-the-numbers rappity rap reference tracks for the “They sleep, we grind” crowd. That is his project thus far.

Do you remember that time when Jermaine invited Khia to Janet’s Poor Idea Parade? I wanted to swoop her in a loving embrace and remind her that she’s better than “So Excited.” That she doesn’t have to do things like this with these kinds of people. I want someone to do the same for this Husel person. Tell him that he’s better than this personality-free drivel he’s slinging. It doesn’t have to be this way. Pick him up from the studio and tell him, “Just hold on, we’re going home,” or something.

I reckon the best way for me to cope is to do what I did as I watched Uncle Usher chase Dancing Dandelion through the land of ElectroTrash Relevance: look away until it’s over. Thankfully, I’ll always have memories of the good ol’ days to sustain me in this trying time.

Let’s hope this is all one big misunderstanding.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at

  • Rachmo

    …I typed, deleted and typed my comment three times and I’m still stuck trying to unpack these levels fuckery.

  • Savannah

    April fools?


    • I don’t think this is a joke. Remember this from six years ago?

      • dang, it’s been six years already? yeah, i remember hating this, like, WTF. Musiq still cute tho.

        But ain’t Musiq from Philly? Why can’t he emulate THAT scene? :(

        • Because he didn’t want to be typecast- and being associated with the Philly scene did just that. I liken it to Liam Neeson’s recent change to being an action star. He probably wanted to be one all along, but he got typecast in all those period pieces and dramatic films he’s done.

          • Truth Seeker

            Man.. you do a lot of Zac defending… I’m starting to think your Musiq… Got a lot of history fact twisted but still…. I think ur Musiq…

            • Nope- you are the one who has a lot of history twisted (And by the way, what is a history fact? Just asking…).

  • BlueWave1

    No disrespect to Musiq, or whatever his name is now. But I’m honestly not surprised. Dude used to pander to the women at little too hard. So much so it made me think he was a bit dishonest. I know that’s cynical of me. And I don’t want that taken the wrong way. But when a guy is too much of a romantic, when he overly deferential to women, when its ALWAYS about her it all seems artificial. And clearly he was.

    Would early 1980’s Marvin Gaye kick his soul singing to the side to hook up with Grand Master Flash and the Furious 5? Of course not.

    • No, but Marvin did make a song called “Sanctified P*ssy”- I mean, “Lady”, LOL!

      • Kuato Knows Best

        I almost feel bad that this is one of my favorite Marvin songs. ..

  • I honestly thought this was a joke and laughed at first. However, once I clicked on the link and saw an entire article dedicated to this nonsense, I had to go to “The Google” for verification. How can this be? How can the man that gave us “SoBeautiful” turn away from what God has blessed him with?

    • “How can the man that gave us “SoBeautiful” turn away from what God has blessed him with?”

      Easy answer: If folks have complained about your singing and/or music for years on end- no matter what you did or how great your albums were- what would you do?

  • Didn’t Tyrese try something like this before? Next thing we know Musiq gonna get in “Baby Boy 2” or “Transformers 5, Why Not?”

  • menajeanmaehightower

    He is my favorite artist and i own all of his albums. This hurts my soul.

    • tgtaggie

      I can’t understand it. He went from this (below) to autotune and T-Pain is his mentor?! What the actual F*ck!?

      • menajeanmaehightower

        It hurts my heart.

  • Slicky Ricky Flair

    Alot of autotune…its actually not as bad as I thought it would be.

  • BreezyX2

    What happen to “DON”T CHANGE” Musiq?!?! You a damb liar!

    He can’t be serious. He even looks like he is playing dress up in this picture! *Eye roll*

  • Just to clear up a few things here:

    Musiq Soulchild originally started out as an emcee, so this is nothing shocking. (See: His stage name, for example). I figured he would return to it sooner or later- although I’m not too cool on the idea that he’s being mentored by T-Pain, of all people!

    His career took a bit of a nosedive after that Def Jam/Atlantic switcheroo that involved him and Fabolous. Well, that and his desire to have broader commercial appeal. I saw this coming when he limited his working relationship with the production team Carvin & Ivan as soon as he signed to Atlantic. Since that deal, he’s made it very clear on numerous occasions his distaste of being referred to as a “neo-soul artist”- as he felt that label put him in a box.

    When he hinted at his current label being disappointed with his underperforming albums, he should have kept in mind that he’s on Atlantic- whose priority now is catering to the younger audience. If Musiq was really smart, he would do what other artists in the past have done in recent years- go independent with the desire to have more creative control over his own work.

    Keep in mind that the very same people who complain about his new musical direction are the same ones that stopped supporting him after the “Soulstar” album. This is the unintended consequence you get when you don’t support the artist- a sudden change in unfortunate events.

    • Makes sense but I still hate it. I bought his albums, and for me he didn’t really fall off until Onmyradio. MusiqintheMagic was a step back in the right direction but there were only a few standout tracks, it wasn’t a cohesive album I could listen to without skipping tracks like everything prior to Onmyradio. I guess that should have been a warning sign. *sigh*

      • You have to understand what kind of position a lot of artists are put in these days when it comes to their fans abandoning them.

        They have only three choices: Go independent, quit making music (Which a few have done and there will be more- trust me on this), or make music for a different audience (AKA go where the money is).

    • h.h.h.

      Keep in mind that the very same people who complain about his new musical direction are the same ones that stopped supporting him after the “Soulstar” album. This is the unintended consequence you get when you don’t support the artist- a sudden change in unfortunate events.


      • People need to understand how much it means to support an artist.

        I mean, a lot of people want to hear Phonte rap, but if his singing garners more accolades, record sales and airplay than his rapping did, do you really expect him to continue rapping? He made that position very clear on the song “Tigallo For Dolo” on Little Brother’s “Leftback” album.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Not a day goes by where i don’t regret never being able to see a LB show, not even once.

          • I feel the same way, man. I’ve heard for years that they put on a great live show- with and without 9th.

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              First time I saw Foreign Exchange, Poo & Joe Scudda came out as special guest but didn’t rap. Biggest cock tease of my life. I kept screaming LB Forever! until the crowd joined with me, but they just went back to the music

  • cakes_and_pies

    I would have been content with him using spaces in his album names and songs :-(

    • Yeah, he was straight on that e.e. cummings sh*t- ol’ run on titles a$$, LOLOL!

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