You can definitely name his tune as soon as the beat drops. Itís a phenomenon, seriously. People run to the dancefloor, line up in a perfect block and start going to the right almost on cue. Youíve probably done it a dozen times. Itís the Cupid Shuffle, which is also the name of Cupidís ingenious first major single. Well, itís finally time to meet the man behind the biggest line dance since the Cha Cha Slide. Cupid is more than his signature tune. Heís a vocalist and with his latest album, Feel Good Music, he wants to prove that. Heís opened for legendary artists like Frankie Beverly & Maze and Earth, Wind and Fire, and thatís exactly the type of sound he wants to introduce to a younger generation.
You have an album and mixtape out. Tell me about those.
My very first project is called Time For a Change. That was pre-Obama. It was weird that it was like the slogan for the election. My first album was like every other artist--you get your first one and the record company dictates whatís on the project and your singles. Anything outside of the first single, I didnít get a good opportunity to define who I was as an artist because everything went so fast. ďCupid ShuffleĒ was released independently and the next thing you know, itís on YouTube with a million hits, then Iím signing a record deal, recording an album and thatís what it was. The first album was a good album. I had Aubrey from Danity Kane up there, T Payne--it did what it did. My mixtape, 21 and Up, it started defining who I am as an R&B singer. A lot of people didnít know that I donít autotune. I sing for real. Thatís my everlasting task. I just want people to know that this kid can really sing and I have talent. I can make hit songs outside of the typical dance records.
Thatís also something I was curious about. Because youíve been successful with dance music, do you feel people know youíre a singer?
When I got signed, the lady who helped me get where I was, she asked me if I realized what was going to happen when it all comes out. Being poor, youíre not going to say, ďIím not going to take a deal for this one song because itís going to define me;Ē you get in there and do it. Itís been tough, but itís a blessing. The foundation of my career is based on one of the best dance songs of all time. As long as I continue to push and keep going, eventually people will start to say, ďThis kidís been around. We need to give him a shot to see what heís about.Ē Iím trying to stay positive and keep moving to let the work speak for itself.
Your next album, Feel Good Music--what, other than the obvious can we expect to hear?
My favorite artists of all time, musically are Frankie Beverly & Maze, Charlie Wilson and Earth, Wind & Fire. Iíve been able to open up for every last one of them guys. Those are legends. Iím just trying to be the younger version of those guys. My music has a lot of feel good to it. You can play it at family reunions and kick back and enjoy the family. Itís smooth and classic. I know thatís not the norm, but as I grow older, the only thing that is guaranteed is that--getting older. One thing I have learned from those guys, they tell me, ďYoung man, you have a foundation. You can be like us if you continue to work and stay true to what you believe in with music and give good music.Ē Itís not always the popular Top 40 stuff, but itís something that sticks to the rib. People love family-oriented, fun, solid music. I want to be 59/60 years old, talking about, ďYíall remember this?Ē
What do you call your sound?
I call it timeless music. Itís not a part of the normal fad. Itís just good music. My manager calls it club music. They say itís the type of stuff you two-step to in the club with your girl. Itís not too slow, but it bounces. If I could be anywhere near Charlie WilsonÖ Thatís the kind of music I grew up listening to and love to make.
You do have that old school feel to your sound. It makes you very different from other male singers we have out now. How do you feel about other male singers out that are more popular--Trey Songz, Usher, MiguelÖ
They fill all the spots of R&B that could be filled. Usher has that MJ thing going on and heís definitely a legend of our time. Trey Songz is a little R. Kelly. I appreciate all of that for everything they do. Iím just filling in the gaps for the soulful R&B, but not traditionally Neo-Soul. Iím more of that Funk/Soul/R&B/Blues vibe. I love those cats though. I have all their CDís in the iPod. Iím a big fan of Raheem DeVaughn, Jazmine Sullivan--I love her and want to take her to dinner. [laughs] Everybodyís got their own spot. Hopefully I can get a spot on that large of a scale so people can know me.
With the new album, you want to prove to people that youíre more than dance music. Do you have tracks that are more vocal than dance?
Absolutely. You donít want to do a 180. You still have to give people something they can dance to because thatís what youíre about. A lot of times you get on with a dance song, they donít want to do it anymore. Iíll do them! [laughs] I just want to make sure thereís more to me than that. With ďCupid Shuffle,Ē the first words I sing are, ďthey say Iím a rapper and I say no.Ē That was my persona. When I did shows, people would look at me and think I was a rapper. Just because Iím young and in the old school world, opening for Frankie Beverly, I walk on stage and they think Iím a little hip hop boy. [laughs] Iím still going to have a lot of party songs, but my team definitely wants more singing.
I think itís a southern thing--be it hip hop or R&B--to have dance songs with dances attached to them. Do you feel that itís a southern thing?
The reason itís like that, there was a certain era when local artists couldnít get their music played on the radio. Our only outlet was the club. Keep in mind, I was a local artist in Louisiana and I had a bunch of ballads, but I couldnít get the DJís to play them. Most artists know that if their records catch on in the club, theyíll get played on the radio. So many people canít go to the label. Labels have YouTube departments, where they search for the next big thing on YouTube. Thatís why thereís so many because we canít market our records in the south. In the east and west coasts, you can go to the labels. The only way we have to get the DJís attention is to have a club banger. Youíre not going to hear any slow ballads in the club. You wonít get club play if youíre out there trying to harmonize. [laughs] I canít knock [anybody] for trying to get a check. To each his own. I support them all.
Did you think it would be this kind of music that thrust you into the spotlight?
Not at all. Iím going to be honest. I went to the studio and freestyled that. It was a two take record. It wasnít even going to be a single. We just made the beat and ran with it to a few clubs and one day my homeboy asked me if I heard of YouTube. I had a million hits! It happened so fast. At least I know I can eat for the rest of my life. Itís a blessing. Itís been four years and Iím telling you, I can go perform anywhere for any crowd. I can do three songs theyíll love and then Iíll hit them with the ďCupid ShuffleĒ and everyone goes crazy when that beat comes on. Iím grateful.
What are you currently working on?
Iím working on my project--Feel Good Music. I have two singles that are coming out--ďTeach Me How to WobbleĒ and thatís starting to catch on! I might have another one! [laughs] The other is ďSheís a Star,Ē which is real fresh. We got a sample from Tevin Campbellís ďCan We Talk.Ē Itís s good song. It allows people to hear my singing. Weíre dedicating it to all single women and all women in the world. Whoever the special female in your life is, sheís your star, weíre dedicating it (and doing a video) to them to let them know theyíre special. Iím trying to keep the messages going against the norm.
Very much so. Youíre a class act. People think sex sells - well it does - but you donít sell it.
To each his own. I canít knock anybody. Thatís a whole Ďnother conversation. A lot of weaker women believe you have to settle for less. I feel like, Ďwhy tear the essence of a woman down when they deal with that everyday.í I want women to feel appreciated! My mom is a woman! Thatís why I stick to my guns with that. Itís not the popular choice, if it was, Iíd be a whole lot bigger than I am. Long term, it will pay off.
Whatís coming up next?
Iíll be on the road a lot. With my new management, weíre pushing towards that and another McDonaldís campaign with the strawberry lemonade. We did the ďMcCafe ShuffleĒ this summer for them. Iím hoping to see every state this year. If I do a show in Montana and North Dakota, I made it! [laughs] I donít know too many people out there that club. Thatís my goal. I want to voice my opinion and let the world know who Cupid is. I want to make my music and spread my message throughout the country.
You should have no trouble doing that. Youíve already spread your song through the country, possibly even the world. Do you know if youíve had international feedback?
We tour Europe three times a year. We do Germany, France, Dubai--itís crazy. Iíve learned to say ďTo the rightĒ in German. [laughs] Iím blessed. You wonít hear any complaints from me. Iím just trying to build on it. I believe that no matter what, if I donít quit, I canít fail. Iím just going to keep on until I get that break and Iíll be your favorite face on BET.
It will happen for you. Where can we find you online?
Follow me on Twitter @NewCupid and you can find me on Facebook with New Cupid. I do my own Twitter and Iím on it all the time. www.newcupidonline.com The best way to get me is to tweet me. Iíll answer you. I email people songs for free and my team gets mad. But, Iíd rather email them than have them burn it. Iím a blessed dude. In 2006, I was broke, singing from town to town and now, I have no complaints.