At 22 years old, Maxwell went from a New York singer with model looks to a mononymous named superstar, often credited along with D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill and others for birthing the “neo-soul” movement, an alternative to the shiny pop-leaning R&B of the early to mid-90s.
His debut album Urban Hang Suite spawned classic singles such as “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder),” “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” “…Til The Cops Come Knockin’,” “”Whenever Wherever Whatever” and more. Not only did it introduce Maxwell to America after slowly rising up the charts the rest of 1996, it also turned the BK singer with the afro into a sex symbol.
Calling into Majic 102.1 on Friday (April 2) to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the album’s release, the now 47-year-old could look back at his original work with a smile, and a bit of relief.
“I did not,” Maxwell says of knowing how the album would affect lives now two decades on, albeit with a bit of a laugh. “If I did, I probably wouldn’t have released it!”
He added, “It could be a little scary being out there sometime but destiny is under God’s control and it happened as it did and I’m just happy you guys still remember and appreciate it. ”
Constantly in search of who he is, Maxwell cites Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album crossed the fifty-year anniversary threshold, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” as it was spotlighted in Regina King’s recent One Night In Miami film as people who keep him centered within his greatness. As he continues to age, he’s aware of who he is and what he’s given the world.
“I can’t ever be a 22-year-old again,” he says. “But I can be a good 47-year-old and in 10 years, hopefully, I can be a great 57-year-old but a decade into who you are … that’s the cornerstone of what I try to do musically.”
Press play on his full interview with AV below. The two discuss not only Maxwell’s activism but his praise towards D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill, why he chose the NAACP Image Awards as a night to not only celebrate Urban Hang Suite but Black excellence and whether or not there will be new music on the way.”