‘Deep Hidden Meaning Radio with Nile Rodgers’ Celebrates Black Music History Month

Nile Rodgers has invited legendary pioneers of the Philly sound Gamble and Huff, James Fauntleroy and South African singer-songwriter Msaki to celebrate Black Music Month on the latest episode of his podcast Deep Hidden Meaning Radio with Nile Rodgers, released June 5.

The episode finds the singers talking about their best-loved songs, Fauntleroy sharing secrets to writing hits for Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar and Msaki talking about the Deep Hidden Meanings in her music.

“Our episode of Deep Hidden Meaning to celebrate Black Music Month had to be special,” Rodgers shares with American Songwriter. “You’ll get to hear from the legendary pioneers of the Philly Sound, Gamble and Huff, who share their experience as Black Songwriters writing the biggest songs of their era for The O’Jays, The Jacksons, Teddy Pendergrass and so many more; James Fauntleroy who will share some of the 24k Magic secrets to writing hits for Bruno Mars as well as Kendrick Lamar; and the South African singer-songwriter Msaki about the ambiguities of song meanings.  This is a great tribute to black creators and the songs that make the world go around.”

Gamble and Huff on “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”

Nile Rodgers: So I got to talk about Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. I remember the song “If you Don’t Know Me By Now,” that was the song for me that if you didn’t have a girlfriend when you went to the club, you would almost be certain that if somehow you looked up, you would definitely have a girlfriend when you left. It was just that song. You guys want to give me the history of what I call the deep hidden meaning behind, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”

Kenneth Gamble: With Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, I didn’t even know Teddy was in that group. Huff was rehearsing them one day and he said, “Man, you got to hear this guy in the Blue Notes, his name is Teddy. He was a drummer or something like that.” Teddy Pendergrass. Harold Melvin was a lead singer, but we wanted to have more than one and we was trying to get a lead singer that had that real rough voice. And so Huff, I talked to him one day and he said, “Gamble you should hear this guy that’s with Harold Melvin now.” And so when I got there, when I heard him, I said, “Wow”, this was not no usual human being, vocally. And so that’s how I got started when Huff was rehearsing them jokers. And then Huff and I wrote that song “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” but that ain’t no hidden meaning in that song, that’s the truth. You got a relationship with people, and you think they know you, but they don’t know you. They come from someplace else. You know? It happened to me. You say, “If you don’t know me by now, you will never know me.” You know what I mean? 

Leon Huff: The feel of that record when we was cutting the track.

Kenneth Gamble: Unbelievable.

Leon Huff:Even when we were writing it, the way I was playing it, I felt it then.

Nile Rodgers:You could tell.

Leon Huff: We had an old, upright piano in Gamble’s office, couldn’t fit in mine because it was too big. So when we have a writing session, I’ll be at the piano, Gamble will be sitting beside me. I have a tape recorder running all the time we in that room. You’ve got to feel the song when you writing it before you even get it to the musicians. So I feels the songs right at that moment. When Gamble’s singing it, he’s singing the hell out of it, and I’m playing the hell out of it. That feeling in that room, you would feel it before you even go into the studio. So when we went to the studio, the first thing we do is play the tape for the musicians so they can listen to what was created in that room.

James Fauntleroy on “That’s What I Like” and working with Bruno Mars on ‘24K Magic’:

Fauntleroy: That album process, we’d talk all the time in the studio. I’m talking about all of us talking about you guys and stuff that you did and people you worked with and just I’ve had conversations with people and also just from listening to music about how you can hear that you guys came from a time where showing off was really important. I can’t think of a better word right now. A better way to phrase it. But basically, right now I call it showing off. So “That’s What I Like,” that was the first song, the first day I walked in the studio, we worked on that album for two years. And on day one, that was the first one we worked on. And the last day we were still working on that song. I think we changed a part of that song a week before mixes. But the first day I walked in there and they literally had that, it was a very cinematic moment. I walked in and they had the music playing. They were in the live room with the instruments on the instruments. And he was like, “What do you think?” Bruno started singing me a couple of things. Phil Lawrence was there. They already have been working on it, and I just started chiming in and dancing and having fun and then working on it for two years after that. [laughs] But I remember doing the process. Bruno put his hand on my shoulder. I must’ve looked really stressed. And he was like, “It’s going to be worth it. Everything is going to be okay.” He was right though, so…

Msaki on ambiguities of song meanings:

Nile Rodgers: People don’t hear songs sometimes the way that we intend them to be heard, they don’t necessarily understand the message and I think as artists that is actually fine with us because we don’t care if they get it or not as long as they like it

Msaki: I love all of those confusions and ambiguities and I’ve actually got a policy where if I see, people like to write my lyrics back to me, and I’ve decided not to correct them because I love what they’re hearing and things that they pick up that I didn’t think of. And obviously people from different places in the world will hear certain things that are sung a certain way or they’ll just project, put their own meaning in there and that’s also beautiful, it gives me something that I didn’t think of.

Tune in and listen to the full episode anytime on-demand at apple.co/_DHMRadio

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