Contrary to popular belief, nineties R&B group and Howard University alums Shai did have more songs besides “If I Ever in Love”. While that song is their signature tune, Nineties R&B fans can attest to the fact that, “Baby I’m Yours”, “The Place Where You Belong” and the fire remix to ”I Don’t Wanna Be Alone” (featuring Jay-Z) were all bops. When it came to the ballads and slow jams “Comforter”. “Together Forever”, “Come With Me” and “Mr. Turn U Out” all still sound fresh. Founding member, PHD recipient and current educator Dr. Garfield took some time out of his busy schedule to revisit the group’s third album, 1999’s Destiny with me.
Reviews & Dunn – When did you, Marc, and Darnell start recording the album?
Dr. Garfield Bright – I wanna say it was a two to three month process that we finished in the fall of 97. We recorded everything in Baltimore.
Reviews & Dunn – Was the album always going to carry the title Destiny, or did the group flirt with other titles?
Dr. Garfield Bright – We named it Destiny from the start. It is the literal translation of the word SHAI, and it spoke to the mission that we had at the time, which was to keep going in spite of Carl’s departure.
Reviews & Dunn – How did you link up with KRS-one for the album’s title track
Dr. Garfield Bright – Darnell called him up, after we laid a demo of the vocals. Darnell produced that track and thought it would be dope to have KRS rock on it due to the content of the song. Kris loved the track and the content and decided to come rock on it. I think that’s the only time he ever featured on an R&B song—maybe the only time. He slayed those verses. We wanted that to be the lead single, but the label didn’t go that route. But yea D called and he accepted. He came down to B-more and rocked.
Reviews & Dunn – Speaking of guests, Miss Jones had a feature on the song Hold On To Love. How did she come to your attention?
Dr. Garfield Bright – Two of the producers who we worked with at the behest of the label, had access to Miss Jones and had already planned to use her on the track.
Reviews & Dunn – Hearing the album with a grown man’s ears, I noticed a Boom Bap influence on some of the tracks. Was that the vibe you were going for?
Dr. Garfield Bright – Yes. Darnell and myself were heavily influenced by Hip Hop growing up, having come of age in the northeastern part of the United States. D is from Jersey and I grew up in Boston.
Reviews & Dunn – Daryl Pearson, formerly of DeVante Swing’s Swing Mob collective, produced two tracks on the album. Before working with him, had you ever met him?
Dr. Garfield Bright – Nah. He was also on the project based on the label’s relationship with him. We didn’t know him but knew of and respected his work
Reviews & Dunn – Zodiac” was a killer slow jam that reminded me of The Floaters “Float On.” Were there ever plans to make that one a single?
Dr. Garfield Bright – Its funny, because Marc and I wrote that while Darnell happened to be out of town for a couple days while we were in Baltimore. I sung the first verse, but in my mind, I was doing a demo verse for Darnell to sing when he came back in town. When he came back, he actually liked the vocal I had laid and that turned out to be how I wound up singing the first verse. People liked that song but I’m not sure we ever spoke of it as a single.
Reviews & Dunn – Can’t Stop The Rain” is a song that I feel has a relevant message today. Rapsody, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake all reach out for permission to sample it. Of the three, who do you think would do the best job with the sample?
Dr. Garfield Bright – Respect to all three!!!! dope artists! But I would roll with KDot on this organic type of content and creativity.
Reviews & Dunn – Shai continues to tour, and you have quite a few things in the work as a solo artist. Can you tell us what you’re cooking up for 2022 into 2023?
Dr. Garfield Bright – Shai is continuing to do shows and is about to make some moves, including taking our stage show up a notch, that will have us in more places and spaces performing the music that people love us for. I am still in the process of laying the groundwork to put out my book, entitled “Lotus 3013, A Hip Hop Thought Experiment.” I’m also going to release a Hip Hop Soul project following the book release. Both are geared towards a Black History