At the age of 16, Bobby Valentino made his introduction to the world of music as a member of the short-lived group Mista. While the group was unable to make it to a second album, Valentino had plans of his own. In between time spent earning a degree in mass communications from Clark Atlanta University, he was hard at work on a demo that eventually landed in the hands of multi-platinum rapper Ludacris. With Luda’s blessing, Valentino became the first R&B singer signed to his Disturbing Tha Peace record label and now those same songs can now be heard off of Valentino’s first solo debut, Disturbing Tha Peace Presents: Bobby Valentino. Earlier this year, Valentino’s sultry first single had all the women wanting to “Slow Down” while his second single, “Tell Me,” had those same women telling him how they got their asses in those jeans. Before getting ready to go on a college tour Valentino spoke about his album, his thoughts on what’s responsible for making Atlanta such a dominant force in music and what you can expect from him in the near future.
Not too much is known about you. In a way, you are almost mysterious. Talk to me about Bobby V.
Bobby Valentino is a real R&B artist. A real singer. A real human being. I’m really into music and I grew up listening to a lot of oldies and I think that comes across a lot in my music.
You are from the ATL and so is everyone else who is hot in the world of R&B/hip-hop; Ciara, T.I., Usher, Lil’ Jon, TLC, Monica, Jermaine Dupri and a host of others all represent Atlanta. What’s in the water up there that makes everyone so musically talented?
I think it’s something in the chicken. (Laughs.) I don’t think it’s something in the water, it’s something in the chicken in the A-town. I just think that it’s so many great artists. A lot of people show each other a lot of love in Atlanta and I think that rubs off on the music and I think that’s why Atlanta is so hot in the music scene right now.
When did you realize that your voice could be a way to make money?
When I was like 10 or 11. I use to play trumpet and that led me to knowing different notes and things like that. Then I realized that I wanted to sing and I would sing on the school bus with my friends and it came about like that.
What artists inspired you vocally?
Marvin Gaye. Prince. The Isley Brothers. Jodeci. Stevie Wonder. All these artists, to name a few.
Not too many people know this, but before you were a solo artist, you were in a group called Mista. What happened with the group?
Just look at all the groups-most groups don’t stick together and it’s kinda hard being in a group with four different personalities. Everybody had different goals in their life and we just all went our separate ways.
In May of 2004, you graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a degree in mass communications. How was the transition from entertainer from your days with Mista back to becoming a regular student?
Actually, I went back to high school, so the transition wasn’t that hard. I just had to focus more and my focus had to be on school and not everything else. So the transition, I started it in high school before I went to college, so it was a little bit easier for me.
Unlike most of your peers in this business, you have a degree to fall back on. What was the most important advice or lesson you learned from the whole experience?
The lesson I learned from my college experience was prioritizing and putting things of importance first. I also learned you have to have hard work and dedication for anything you want to do.
Your debut album, Disturbing Tha Peace Presents: Bobby Valentino, entered the charts at number three, selling close to 200,000 in its first week. How do you feel about the response the record has been receiving?
I think the response has been cool but I think that a lot of people are missing out on my album because they feel that I’m a new artist and I wouldn’t know anything about the music business or putting a good album together, but this album is great. I think the people who don’t have the album are definitely missing out on a great album.
To those who know nothing about your record, how would you describe it?
An old soul with a new sound.
What’s your advice to those who aspire to be the next Beyonc