With a baby sound asleep in the next room and his two eldest kids away, Adrian Marcel finally has "me time".
Though it's mostly being spent discussing everything under the sun from his debut album to his marriage, he is unexpectedly an open book and extremely thankful—expressing his gratitude for the opportunity on more than one occasion throughout our mid-morning chat.
Courtesy of @myles_standish
But perhaps what's most impressive about this Oakland-native is his dedication not only to his career but to his family as well. Boasting a successful roster of collabs that include names like The Dream, Kelly Rowland, and Raphael Saadiq, he admits that while initially his focus was just on singing and being an artist, thanks to his family, he's now come to realize that it goes much deeper than that; that the true measure of success isn't limited to just awards and accolades and that the example he sets in his career will ultimately be reflected in the lives of not only his wife but his children as well.
"With me having two daughters, I'm at a prime time where they're really soaking up everything," he tells xoNecole. "So I have to make sure that I'm selling something that I'm really with. I'm raising girls that I want to be able to pick true kings and the only way they can learn how to do that is for them to learn it from me. I want to influence them in the right way. There's a certain responsibility that we all hold and I at least want to be that representation. So I'm doing what I feel is right and I'm going to continue to rock like that."
In this exclusive chat, we talk to Adrian about his acting debut, how he balances being a father with his career, and why love doesn't have to be perfect.
Courtesy of Adrian Marcel
xoNecole: You starred in the Bobby Debarge story recently, it was your acting debut. What was that experience like?
Adrian Marcel: I got the bug now, once I got the taste for it I was like, 'This is a whole new kind of creativity.' I've been blessed for sure though, I can't complain. I think in everyone's career you have your ups and downs, but it's all about what you do with the downs. It was super dope, it was my first role so I don't really have any expectations because I didn't know what to expect. Everyone made this transition very easy, I may have been spoiled with the way everything was put together. Everybody was so welcoming, and in this industry, a lot of people can come across standoffish because they don't know where you're at or how you're taking it so walking into the first table read really set the tone honestly. Everybody meshed almost immediately.
In addition to that, you also released your album '98TH' recently. What vibe were you going for musically?
You know, at the end of last year I started my own label. I was able to step away and create my own legacy in the way I see it, and I wanted my first offering to be something for the fans who have been rocking with from the beginning. The fans who were there since I dropped my first mixtape, 7 Days A Week. I really took some time to live life, gain some new experiences, and to go back to who exactly I wanted to give to the people. 98TH was me getting back to that high school kid who was very confident and trusting in what I sell, what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it; 98th was the block I moved to when I first started high school, so I'm glad my team and I really stuck to what was natural and organic.
I noticed that you really emphasize the importance of love and the right relationship a lot in your music. You’re married as well. Do you find it harder to create musically as a married man and father now versus when you were single?
Not really. I never dove too far in to [a point] where I would get lost in just one thing. I've always been sort of a multi-tasker, if you will. And at the same time, my family has been where I get my inspiration from, my content, my experiences from. They've always been a part of my creative process. It's never been a problem for me to blend the two and I know that's been something that's sort of taboo in the industry. And I get it, but I think it's all about who you are, what you're looking for and what your goal is. For me, the goal isn't for me to make millions and millions of dollars and be the number one artist in the world. That's great if it does happen, it's always on the list, but what do you have when you get that?
Do you have family, love, and real people around you? I've always tried to make sure that one doesn't take over the other. Its a task, but I'm up for the challenge. As you grow, you want different things and different things entice you. But for me, I look at the legacy that I'm leaving, it goes past me. When I'm done and there are no more Grammys: who's there and how am I still moving forward? How do I still hold on to that happiness and I think it was important for me to know where that happiness was coming from, where the love was coming from, and where the passion came from; that love comes from the family and outside sources.
Courtesy of Dionne Green
"How do I still hold on to that happiness and I think it was important for me to know where that happiness was coming from, where the love was coming from, and where the passion came from; that love comes from the family and outside sources."
What initially attracted you to your wife, Danni?
What's funny is that we weren't really into each other when we first met. I was performing somewhere and she came with a mutual friend of ours and me being in that mode, I was flirting with everybody. So of course, I started flirting with her, but she was NOT giving me the time of day. But as time went on, we just started kicking it and hanging out and I think it was just how different she was. She was never really into the material things; whenever we would hang out we wouldn't be doing much of anything. She was just very interesting and it was always interesting to just watch her be who she was. It was one of those opposites attract-type things. She always remained true to herself and also, every time I was with her, something positive in my career would happen. She's my personal good luck charm. So it was really organic and it happened when it was supposed to, so that kind of sealed it for me.
I also read that your parents have been together for over 30 years. Has their relationship affected your perception of love?
I've always looked at my parents and admired the respect level that my mother had for my father and vice versa. For so long though, I saw the power in my father, you know, he's a strong Black man; everything I want to be, he is. His energy is very loud and strong. He's strong-willed, strong-minded, but I see now that the power really lies within my mother. She's really the backbone to it all. I watched my father start a business and the whole time I thought it was him, but it was really my mother who was pushing him into it. He allowed himself to really let whatever guard and walls down to let her be a woman and a queen, so I always took marriage seriously. I don't play when it comes to my woman or the jobs that I'm supposed to do: protect, provide, and love.
Courtesy of @myles_standish
"I watched my father start a business and the whole time I thought it was him, but it was really my mother who was pushing him into it. He allowed himself to really let whatever guard and walls down to let her be a woman and a queen, so I always took marriage seriously. I don't play when it comes to my woman or the jobs that I'm supposed to do: protect, provide, and love."
You’re an R&B guy, so I have to know. Do you have a go-to Mood Music playlist?
Oh for sure, I'm all about setting the mood. I've always been sort of a hopeless romantic, lighting the candles even back in the day; my mom knew she was going to have a problem. That's my thing, my favorite time is sexy time (laughs). My playlist has always been in a certain flow so like song 1-4 is where we set the tone, you spit that game, get her in the mood. After that, the next four to five records are all about the foreplay and getting into it. We're still taking our time but we might get a little aggressive. The music might get a little aggressive and then you take it down. It's all types of different artists but I'm definitely on my list. I have no problem hearing my voice, Trey Songz, Maxwell, Usher, and some old school, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, 112, Dru Hill. It's all about the vibes that's coming out of the speakers. But we're not mixing rap in there, it's definitely going to be some R&B vibes going on.
What's something you’ve learned now about love or marriage that you didn't know before?
That it's not supposed to be perfect. I was always under this impression that you get married when everything is perfect and you have everything figured out already but I've learned things will never be perfect because you never have everything all figured out. We're two different people, I don't think like my wife and she doesn't think like me. She's into certain things that I'm not into and likewise for me. And as we change, as we get older, so does the marriage—the relationship. And it's either going to change for the better if you're growing together or it's going to change for the worst if you're not, but it's never going to be what you want it to be. It's always going to be what it's supposed to be for you. That just makes more room for growth; you always have to know what you're fighting for. It won't be perfect and that's okay because now you know you're still working for something.
"I was always under this impression that you get married when everything is perfect and you have everything figured out already but I've learned things will never be perfect because you never have everything all figured out. We're two different people, I don't think like my wife and she doesn't think like me."
Last thing, what's the biggest difference between the Adrian at the beginning of your career and relationship and the Adrian now?
The Adrian at the beginning was more susceptible and open for outsiders to come in and direct. But now, I'm in this zone where I understand me, I understand everything around me. I understand why things have happened and do happen the way they do. I am very in tune with my spirituality and everything that has to do with me; there are no more questions now. Before, when I was younger, there was a lot of 'Should I be doing this, should I be doing that?' But now I'm completely living in the now; I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm not doing what I'm not supposed to be doing, I'm with who I'm supposed to be with. I'm able to be Adrian Marcel, give my passion the full time and energy [it deserves], but at the same time, make sure that the career doesn't affect my wife and my kids and how they think and feel. And that's the only way for me to succeed the way I know I'm meant to.
98TH is available to stream everywhere now and to keep up with Adrian, be sure to follow him on Instagram @AdrianMarcel.
Featured image by @myles_standish.