While I’m aware that R&B exists in Louisville, I’d be hard pressed to name more than a handful of artists belonging to the genre. That’s not to say that I’m not a fan of this sort of music, because I am, but for whatever reason R&B almost never flows into my local wavelength. The few times it has, however, I’ve been impressed more often than not — the most recent example being when I heard a bonus song called “Replay” from rapper RMLLW2LLZ’s latest record which featured up and coming singer Rob Lee. I was immediately drawn to his dynamic, smooth-as-silk voice as he acrobatically soared over a slick beat.
Never Nervous: How long have you been at it as a singer/performer?
Rob Lee: I’ve been singing since the age of 4 as far back as I can remember but I’ve been performing since about the age of 10/11 where I started in church.
NN: Was there a particular inspiration that made you want to become and R&B artist?
RL: I’ve just always loved melodies and harmonizing to the songs I’d hear my mom listening to as a kid. It’s just always been something I’ve admired and wanted to be apart of.
NN: What is the songwriting process like for you? Does the beat/music come first, then the vocal melodies? Or vice versa?
RL: I can write songs off the top of my head. Just lyrics but I prefer to have an instrumental first. Then I will hum different melodies to it and add words to the melodies that stick with me most.
NN: In what ways have you evolved as a singer over the years?
RL: I’m a lot less shy than when I started. I feel more comfortable on stage and with a mic in my hand. My writing style has changed. I’ve always tried to create music that is catchy but I feel I’ve honed the craft. Also I used to solely create alone where now I can work in front of others creatively.
“Each song could sound like I’m talking to my significant other but I’m actually talking about this city and how I’ve felt here.”
NN: Talk about your latest album, Art of Flight. How was it recorded, who was involved, and is there an underlying message or theme behind the lyrics?
RL: It’s actually my debut album — this is my first album and the most songs I’ve recorded for something specific. The process of creating this album really helped me to gain more maturity and developed my business skills. It was a long process that I wanted to give up on multiple times. I started with voice memos in my phone and sent those as examples to the artist’s I featured as well as a song concept or idea. If I sent it out I tried to include the first verse and hook and hoped that the people I sent them to would feel it. I overcame the fear of sharing unfinished work during this process.
The album features multiple artist’s including Tez of 2Deep, Peter Wesley, Rmllw2llz, Johnathan Johnson, Gio El Futuro, SEMI, Kori Black, BRXTN, Jordan Jetson, Shane Antonio, Tiara P, Michelle Johnson, Tunice Masden, KEYVOKO & T@y All D@y. Robert “Saint Engineering” Calloway aka Saint engineered, as in recorded, mixed, mastered and produced the final product. He created the sound that is “Rob Lee.” Very thankful for his hard work. The title “Art of Flight” represents taking a flight and exploring new levels in life. The underlying message is that I’ve lived in Louisville my whole life and it’s time for that to change and all the songs represent my experiences with the people, places and mindsets I’ve experienced in this city I know as home and my emancipation from it all. Each song could sound like I’m talking to my significant other but I’m actually talking about this city and how I’ve felt here.
NN: Now that Art of Flight has been out for a while now, what’s the plan moving forward? Touring? Singles? Another album?
RL: Basically I just plan on promoting the album until I reach all the people that can help take my career to the next level. I’ll be releasing multiple visuals as well as a remix EP with an upcoming producer that is super talented. I’m going to be traveling outside of Louisville to gain and reach a larger audience. I’m always working on music because I love it but there’s no new album yet. I like things to come together naturally as this first album did and when that time comes again, I’ll feel it and it will happen.
NN: How would you describe Louisville’s R&B scene to someone like me who is mostly ignorant to who’s who and what’s what?
RL: Louisville’s R&B scene is being created currently. It needs support, it needs knowledge and for someone knowledgeable to lead it. We had such a big loss with Static Major but there’s so much undiscovered talent. If you know myself, Junior J, Kori Black, Daria Raymore, Adé, Tez of 2Deep, Shane Antonio, KEYVOKO, Z Lynn, Nova, Cadence, Alexa Morgan, Fiji Waters, and all the other talented artists from here in this genre that are working hard and gaining recognition then you’re on the right track. It’s growing so rapidly I honestly can’t keep up. There are so many talented R&B artists here and I don’t mean to leave anyone out but there are even some that have yet to record but will be amazing!
“(Louisville’s R&B scene) is growing so rapidly I honestly can’t keep up.”
NN: Are there any R&B artists in Louisville that influence or inspire you to create?
RL: I wouldn’t consider her to be an R&B artist but Sasha Renee’s weekly open mic “the Vibe” influenced me to make music people can feel in a live setting. Her sound is very soulful Hip-Hop and the feeling I get listening to her music moves me to make music people can feel.
NN: Before you go, tell us about one of your favorite songs to come out of Louisville this year.
RL: Jordan Jetson’s “The Stars” that’s a classic. I love how he approached that song. The instrumental is great and really has an amazing feeling to it and hearing song’s like that makes me wanna step my game up