Chatting with EURweb’s Ny Magee, Graham shared thoughts on the recently released “Love Music Funk Magic” as she revealed how a simple conversation with legendary music producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds developed into a full-blown “super fun, disco, funk pop record.”
“I did this album with Babyface and the idea originally starts from a conversation that I had with Kenny about making a less selfish record,” Graham said. “The original record released two years ago called “Roxbury Drive,” and it was very ’90’s and very niche. And I just wanted to make what I wanted to make. It was my first album away from the label and I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and we were talking about re-releasing a more pop record. Something that felt more inclusive. Something that everyone, no matter what kind of music you listen to, would love it.”
Edmonds isn’t the only music legend that contributed to “Love Music Funk Magic.” The 15-track project was among the last projects touched by Prince before his death last year. The “Sign ‘O the Times” hitmaker joined Graham and Edmonds as songwriters on “Love Music Funk Magic” and can be mentioned as one of two producers Graham gave her undivided attention to during the making of the album, which was titled “Roxbury Drive Reloaded” at the time of its creation.
“After Kenny and I were talking, I was back in the studio and I was working on a couple tracks to add to this “Roxbury Drive Reloaded” album and at the time there were two producers that I talked to, or worked with, one is Kenny and one was Prince,” Graham confessed while detailing guidance and encouragement the late icon provided after hearing her music.
“I sent Prince a copy of the record that I was putting together for ‘Roxbury Drive Reloaded’ and he said ‘Why are you making these records that you can’t dance to? You need to do these records so that you can dance to them. Why aren’t you doing like a Donna Summer “Bridge Over Troubled Water” kind of sound?’ And I said, ‘You’re right!’ And we would go back and forth with records all the time, and songs and video clips — anything that inspired us, we did that a lot. So I sent him the song “All Your Love,” and he said ‘That’s exactly what you should be doing.’ I started working on the ideas of that, and I said, ‘We should just do a funk record together,’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ So I started working on these ideas and then he passed a month later.”
While the world mourned Prince and remembered the man and his music, Graham took a page out of the icon’s playbook to go against the rules and do “Love Music Funk Magic” her way.
“I spent the remainder of the summer last year finishing this idea of this funk record — this accessible, fun record for the people — completely independent. I’m kinda anti-label. Babyface is the only producer that can tell me what to do. I listen to him blindly. So we worked on this record together, went back and forth, and we recorded one song eight times. We just kept going back and forth and then we put together this super fun, disco, funk pop record.”
“Love Music Funk Magic” comes as Graham does double duty with her latest film, “All Eyez on Me.” The Benny Boom-directed drama, which chronicles the life and music career of Tupac Shakur, stars Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Shakur and Graham as Jada Pinkett as well as Hill Harper, Danai Gurira as Shakur’s mother Afeni Shakur and Dominic L. Santana as Suge Knight. On it’s opening weekend, “All Eyez on Me” took the number three spot behind “Cars 3” and “Wonder Woman as it exceeded expectations with $27.1 million collected at the box office, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Although the hip-hop vibe of “All Eyez on Me” differs from the supernatural elements of “The Vampire Diaries,” the two share a common element in dealing with pop culture fixtures in Shakur and the trend of hip, young vampires. The CW drama, which premiered in 2009 and spawned a spin-off (“The Originals”), ran for eight seasons, with its final episode airing in March.
“It came at a time when the vampire trend was really heavy. You had ‘Twilight’ and ‘True Blood,’ and it started off as a trend that quickly became this cult, international phenomenon. I can’t say necessarily the success of how far the reach has gone with the show, I know pretty far, but I can say for me, it absolutely influenced the exposure and the fan base that I’ve had, and for that I’m supremely grateful,” said Graham, who played Bonnie Bennett, the best friend of Nina Dobrev’s Elena Gilbert.
When it came to the show’s longevity, Graham fully credits “Vampire Diaries” fans with making the teen drama a worldwide hit.
“I wouldn’t have the amazing fans from this show without this show. I still love them and want to spend as much time with them as possible and thank them for sticking with us,” she said. “It’s definitely made the character that I play international. When it came out, it was a big pop culture hit and it was definitely the farthest character from who I am that I’ve ever played. It was defiantly a journey for me and I learned a lot. Eight years… it’s a long time.”