This might be age talking, but a chat with Ginuwine triggers a reality check of sorts. Specifically, it means accepting the fact his double platinum-selling sophomore album “100% Ginuwine” is now 20 years old.
The recording spawned four hits and defined, in terms of production and performance, a generation where R&B, soul, hip-hop and even hints of electronica became a singular and immensely popular sound. But that was, like, two decades ago.
“I know, man,” said the artist born Elgin Baylor Lumpkin but known to the pop and R&B mainstream as simply Ginuwine. “You don’t really realize that until you see it front of you. ‘Man, 20 years? That’s a long time ago.’ I’m just blessed and happy that people remember that album and remember the songs.”
Ginuwine performs April 26 on a Rupp Arena bill that also features Keith Sweat, Monica, Dru Hill and Jon B, artists who helped guide and shape the sound of modern R&B over the past three decades. But when revisiting the music of Ginuwine, you’re taking a trip back to the late ‘90s, when his initial recordings began making a romantically inclined and rhythmically enhanced assault on pop, as well as R&B, charts.
“Music was fun then,” Ginuwine said. “Now, it’s fun, but it’s also business. But back then, it was just a totally different era. Artists really got dogged financially. It’s probably more financially beneficial to the artist now than it has ever been. Now than I’m older, I realize that people were just catering to you then because you were making money. They made you feel you didn’t have a worry in the world. At the same time, when it’s all said and done, this is a hard business if you don’t have the proper team. Luckily there are supporters who have been with me for 23 years now.
“I’m able to make a living. I’m able to live comfortably, I’m able to still travel the world. But if I could have it the way that is now financially back then and still have the fun from back then, well, that would have been perfect.
“But I guess each generation says that about their music. I remember my mom and my dad telling me, ‘You don’t know nothing about no music.’ That’s because they had Marvin Gaye and the Four Tops and Ike and Tina Turner. So every generation has their music. It’s definitely something I miss, the ‘90s. But you move on.”
What made the “100% Ginuwine” such a massive statement, aside from charting a quartet of singles led by the Top 5 hit “So Anxious,” were two key collaborators. The first was Aaliyah, the heralded young R&B star who collaborated with Ginuwine on the album (in particular, on the track “Final Warning”). Aaliyah died in a 2001 plane crash at age 22.
“Each artist I’ve worked with, we had a respect for each other’s talent and artistry. So working with them, in a way, was just like working with anybody else. We’re in there, we’re getting the job done. But if we’re closer than most, like me and Aaliyah were … we were family. We’d stay in the studio, we’d play around and talk, laugh. So it was fun. It was fun with everybody, but it was special with her.”
The other was Timothy Zachary Mosley, better known as Timbaland, one of the most influential record producers and song stylists of the last two decades. Ginuwine’s 1996 debut album, “Ginuwine…The Bachelor,” was Timbaland’s first fully credited production project. Along with the follow-up “100% Ginuwine,” Timbaland has produced recordings for Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Drake and Justin Timberlake.
“I met Tim met in ’90, but we didn’t come out with something till ’96, so we had a lot of time to spend together and learn from each other, writing – all that stuff. So it was a great learning experience. That’s something I would never want to take back. It molded me into the person and the artist and the entertainer that I am today. Hopefully, we’ll be able to create that magic once again.”
Ahead for Ginuwine is work on a docu-series on the long-running soul group The Chi-Lites. But he is also looking beyond that ensemble’s ‘70s era heyday and his own late ‘90s emergence to making new music. He’s not aiming low with it, either.
“I’m just going to really, really, really dig down and not try to just throw anything out there. I’m really going to try to put a piece of magic together. I’m going ‘Thriller.’ I’m going Dr. Dre. It’s just something I would like to do. There’s no guarantee it will do that because the music business is different these days. But I want to put together a masterpiece. Hopefully, it will work for me.”
If you go: Ladies Night featuring Keith Sweat, Monica, Dru Hill, Ginuwine and Jon B
When: 7:30 p.m. April 26
Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine
Call: 859-233-3535, 800-745-3000