As a matter of fact, Henderson’s “Blame It” track took home a Grammy over the weekend for Best R&B by a duo or group. But even with a roster of hits and hitmaking collaborations, Henderson has remained under the public radar, but that’s just the way he wants it.
“My goal was always to just be on the creative side of things,” he told EUR’s Lee Bailey. “A lot of times producers at one point – the ones that are very visible – the ones like the Timbalands, the Neptunes before that – you can kind of tell they had at one point a desire to be some sort of artist. Even like Rodney Jerkins, they insisted on being in the videos.”
While he said he understands why producers might drop their name or production company moniker on a song, but said that he doesn’t have any plans to be in the forefront of hit records.
“I can understand the whole plug thing,” he explained. “It’s a branding thing. But as far as visually wanting to be seen, I think they’ve proven that they wanted to do the artist thing. Timbaland was a rap artist with Magoo, The Neptunes had N.E.R.D., and even Jam & Lewis were in The Time.”
He said that while these super-producers are standouts in more ways than one, most producers are content staying in the background.
“A lot of producers are just behind the scenes musically guys who just really care about the work and the quality of the product, not to discount those that want to be stars, but I was always content to let my music be as good as possible and open doors.”
Henderson’s first credited hit was Case’s 1999 hit “Happily Ever After.” The song became one of the Top 10 songs of 1999 and that year Billboard named him as one of the top 10 hot R&B/Hip-Hop producers.
“I wrote and produced it originally for my friend’s wedding,” he said. “We changed some words around because a female originally sang the first version. I’ve since worked with Dru Hill, Trey Songz, Jamie Foxx, and R. Kelly, as well.”
In addition to his latest success with “Blame It,” Henderson also has a track on the new R. Kelly album. Henderson’s song, is a ballad called “Elsewhere,” but he revealed that originally he had three song’s slated for Kelly’s latest project.
“When you’re in with an artist, a lot of times they get caught up into the vision that they have for the album at that moment,” he said of the process of developing some songs. “You can be true to that vision and you can follow it. Sometimes when the record company decides to delay the release of a project, in that month or so or two months that the project was pushed back, there might be a shift based on what was big on the radio at that time.”
Because R. Kelly is a also a songwriter and producer himself, the fact that he looks to others for production talent might seem odd, but Henderson said that contrarily, the best artists stay relevant because of their search for great collaborations.
“Any smart business man eventually has the need to shake up the program by recruiting new, younger talent,” Henderson said. “Younger talent brings new ideas and fresh perspectives and you bring your wisdom to the table and the collaboration is successful. We’re living inside of our own heads and our own experiences, so if we still want to relate to a broader audience we’re going to have to collaborate with others that might be from a slightly different demographic to help us reach that audience.”
Henderson said that his song “Elsewhere,” really seemed to capture R-ah and speak to his own relationship vulnerabilities.
“‘Elsewhere’ is a sad, heartbreak song, so I wanted to capture heartbreak. It made me feel bad and emotionally drained. So it wasn’t something that I wanted to start working on on Sunday and then go back to on Tuesday because I didn’t want to take my mood back there. I sat down and constructed the whole song. Then a year and a half later, in a meeting with R. Kelly, he selected the song.”
Henderson said that he was reluctant to share the song with the hitmaker because of its slow tempo, but was surprised to find was R. Kelly thoroughly impressed with it. As a matter of fact, R. Kelly had first pass with his more club-ified single “Blame It.”
“R. Kelly was the first one I sent ‘Blame It’ to. Jamie’s management had ‘Elsewhere.’ Somehow the universe flipped and Jamie ended up with ‘Blame It’ and R. Kelly got ‘Elsewhere.’ It was exactly the opposite of what I had pictured in my mind.”
But it would have been no problem, either way, Henderson explained.
“Once you’re there with the artist, as a producer you can make that song fit that artist,” he said. “You might speed it up or change the key. That’s where my muscle comes in.”
Get more on Christopher via his MySpace page.