Wednesday, January 18, 2006
As I listen to a very sexually charged album by a young man whom I am soon to meet, I expect to encounter a very suave and assertive individual, a Casanova if you will.
Much to my surprise, the man I encounter is a very humble yet serious young man whose goal is to touch people with his music.
ML hit the airwaves recently with the title track "I Will" from his Walkerboy Entertainment debut album. His reaction to hearing his own voice coming from the speakers has changed a bit over time.
"I started out getting chill bumps. Now I get the enjoyment from seeing other people react," he said.
As a Jackson native, ML—born Marland L. Williams—says his interest in music came from participating in the church choir and listening to old-school R&B legends Jackie Wilson, Lenny Williams and Anita Baker. While at Jackson State University, ML served as a drum captain for the Sonic Boom, but he had other dreams, too.
"It's always been a dream, like everybody when they are younger, they see big stars on TV like Michael Jackson and think that they wouldn't mind having that fame and be able to do those big shows having people to fall out over a song that they've written."
Ironically, the term "fall out" aptly describes the audience reaction ML received while opening for R&B acts Silk and Keith Sweat. The racy content on "I Will," especially on the song "Make A Movie," describes highly intimate bedroom scenes with a woman whom ML determines to please.
On his album he aims to capture the listeners' attention by being a bit more straightforward.
"It's a mature album, and sex sells. In most adult conversations the subjects are about adult situations, and I try to be straightforward with it. It's 'grown and sexy' music," he explained.
Yet despite the alluring fans and larger-than-life fantasies, the road to a star studded musical career hasn't been without its required investment of blood, sweat and tears from ML.
The R&B crooner actually began work on the hit single "I Will" back in 1999. He's spent time producing and ghostwriting other artists since then, but the hardest thing in the business involves something else—those "so-called" friends who promise to give their support but never actually purchase the album.
ML doesn't let those "fair weather" friends get him down. Their existence does not distract him from the real friends and family who have backed him since day one.
"I do appreciate the support that I've received here at home in Mississippi, and I hope the people here continue to give their support," he told me.
ML did receive a lot of love in the areas of vocals and production while making his album. Guest appearances on "I Will" include Taboo, Hypa Hound, Imfa Red and Karen Brown. Timothy Williams out of Greenville and Freddy Young of Fly Productions aided in producing the album.
Right now ML sees his future role in the music business as a three-part plan, all with ties to what he's already done for others and himself.
The first part remains producing and ghostwriting other artists as well as collaborating with those like Too Short, with whom he's worked in the past. He has already opened for A-List singers like Carl Thomas, Avant and Anthony Hamilton, and looks forward to more opportunities. He also plans to tour for his debut album "I Will."
"We've already hit Rolling Fork and Greenville, and we're trying to hit all of those small towns that don't really get a chance to see anyone," he explained.
Direct inquiries and information on upcoming shows to Walkerboy Entertainment, or you can e-mail ML personally at [e-mail missing]