It’s been a long nine years since the world has heard a commercial release from Philadelphia’s soulful mainstay Bilal. First bursting onto the scene with his well-received debut album 1st Born Second, and cementing his place in the industry with such notable collaborations as Common’s classic “The Sixth Sense,” Bilal’s future was looking bright. But after his 2006 sophomore effort Love For Sale was shelved indefinitely after leaking months before its release date, many wondered if and when Bilal would complete another official project.

Now, with a new sound, new record label (and new hair cut), Bilal is about to be back on top with the highly anticipated release of Airtight’s Revenge on Plug Research. Extended family member of HipHopDX Aliya Ewing sits down with the grammy-nominated singer to speak about the mysterious leak of Love for Sale, collaborating with notable Hip Hop producers 88Keys and Nottz, and even juggling his musical career with fatherhood.

On the rumors that “Love for Sale” was leaked purposefully by Interscope…

Bilal: I think [it’s] truth to a certain extent. I can sit around and blame people all day but I’m just letting the music go….it really happened for a reason, you know? At the time I was dealing with [Interscope Records], I was really fighting for [Love for Sale] because of the fact that it was left center and experimental. So when it was bootlegged, it kinda jacked me up like “Argh!” you know? But it created this underground type of thing where I had people coming up to me saying that it was some of the dopest shit they’ve ever heard. So I’m just gonna keep on doing the music and let everything else fall into place. I just have to stay true.

On penning the new track “Little One” for his sons, the youngest whom has sickle cell anemia and the oldest son whom has autism…

Bilal: Well, I tend to take a lot of things and just make it work. I see myself as a blues singer so I see that life is everything, you know? I don’t let anything hold me back, I just learn to live and use it, because that’s what each situation was meant for…The same thing that’s in me is in them. They have that same type of a drive. My three-year-old, he jumps up on the stage when I’m performing and tries to get the mic! [Laughs] So….I don’t want to discourage my kids from doing anything they want to do that’s not hurting them. If it’s something they can do and learn from then I wouldn’t discourage them from that. I would just tell them the things that allow them to understand all of the aspects of it, you know? That’s what I’m really here for as a father…I’m not here to steer any boats. I’m not here to create my child as a vehicle for myself. I’m just here to help them along their journey.

On working with 88-Keys and Nottz…

Bilal: Well I’m good friends with [88-Keys] and Nottz…I like their drum sounds and I really like the way they create. They’re both creative cats, you know? Being in the lab with them it just….it works. [Laughs]

The interview, which also includes snippets of the much talked about album, can be read in it’s entirety here at

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