There's a point in an artist's career when everything comes together, when it's their time to be who they are and come through with a collection of songs that captures the right vibe, at the right time, in just the right way. Avant's self-titled Capitol Records debut is the right music at the right time by a man who's firmly in control and knows it.
"Seven years and five albums deep, I've got a resume and track record," says the multi- platinum R&B singer/songwriter. "I've proved my point which is why I decided to call the album Avant, because it reflects who I am. I have more confidence as a singer and songwriter, and as a result this record came out really strong and I'm really pleased with it. The idea for this record was to come with something new and with this album, that's exactly what I did."
Avant sought help from an innovative crew of producers that would help bring in that newness he speaks of. Some of these talented individuals include Trackmasters (LL Cool J), The Architects (Missy Elliott) and Smurf a.k.a. Collipark (Soulja Boy) among others. Eric Dawkins and Antonio Dixon (Fantasia), who make up the talented duo of Anonymous Entertainment, are behind Avant's soulful first single "When It Hurts." The ballad, as well as the entire album, was written by Avant and features fluid, nuanced vocals.
"It is an honest look at the ups and downs of a relationship. It's a song about the basics of love, because no matter what, there's going to be someone getting hurt in the relationship. So, in the song I ask the woman, when it hurts will we still be the same two lovers? If you hurt me, how can I get over it or how will you? The nature of the song is asking can we still get past the pain and be with each other," Avant explains.
Other aspects of love inspired Avant to fire up "Let Me Break Your Back." With his smooth vocals riding on top of a mid-tempo rhythm, "Let Me Break Your Back" is a confident, sexy ode to, well...you get it. "I know what my fans expect and they look to me for the way I try and come across with a love song," Avant explains, "but at the same time, as a songwriter I also know there's nothing new under the sun. My job is to find new ways of saying things that you might have heard before. I think one of the reasons I've been able to enjoy the kind of longevity I've had is that I write songs that are about real life situations. That was the idea behind "Let Me Break Your Back."
Although Avant is an acclaimed songwriter, he is not averse to covering another writer's material, especially if it allows him to bring his own style. Such is the case with Avant's rendition of Christopher Cross' multiple-Grammy winning song "Sailing," originally recorded in 1980. Growing up "Sailing" was one of Avant's favorite songs and judging by his understated, languid performance, clearly remains one to this day. "Sometimes when you're going through life you just want to sit back, relax and think of everything that's going on, and for me, "Sailing" is a song that gives you the freedom to do that."
Avant is also branching out into production, which is yet another way for him to grow artistically. "That's one of the great things about being in R&B, because I'm always able to give people my vibe. I'm blessed to be able to be an artist that can give you my lyrics. I feel like I know how to bring a hit of my own across. In some ways I think what separates me from the pack is the writing aspect. When you're able to write your own material you don't have to always be out there searching for a hit. I feel like I'm more in tune and in touch with my fans because I know what it is that they want from me. So I can just give all the glory to God for making me a creator."
Avant was born and raised in Ohio and was still living there in 2000, when he became the first artist signed to NBA legend Magic Johnson's Magic Johnson Music. He was only 22 at the time. That same year Avant's platinum debut, My Thoughts established him as one of R&B's breakout singer/songwriters. My Thoughts contained the Top 5 Billboard R&B/Hip Hop hit single, "Separated."
The hit wouldn't be his last as Avant's platinum sophomore album; Ecstasy (2002) continued the impressive track record by also going platinum. Avant's string of platinum smashes continued with Private Room (2003) and The Director (2006), which boasted "Lie About Us' with Pussycat Doll's Nicole Scherzinger, and "You Know What" featuring Lil Wayne. In addition, Avant's records yielded several Top 5 R&B singles, including "Making Good Love," "4 Minutes," and "Read Your Mind."
Avant has previously collaborated with his old friend Snoop Dogg on Read Your Mind. The DO- Double-G makes a return appearance on Avant- adding his flow on "Attention". "It's always beautiful working with Snoop. Every time I see him he tells me how much his wife loves me. I'm her top R&B singer," Avant laughs. "He's a great guy."
With so many hits, the platinum records and respect from critics, fans and fellow musicians alike, Avant could let his reputation do the talking. While Avant is proud of all of his albums, he's equally proud that he has taken his skills to the next level. "I've never really had some sort of game plan when it comes to making my records," Avant offers. "This time I really wanted to just get into the studio and make great music. Sometimes you can get trapped in a box, just in one certain area. That's not what I wanted. I love music and want to be able to create great music. Maybe some people might see that as a "game plan," but to me it's what I do.