All it takes is a chance encounter with the right person to change the course of your life. Oakland-bred rhythm-and-rhyme crooner Adrian Marcel knows that all too well when he broke down how he first met Raphael Saadiq with the #DXLive crew. “It was so low key because I really wasn’t [there to do] any business with him like that,” Adrian recalls. ‘We showed up on some other stuff. My manager was talking about another artist with him and we just was chopping it up [like] regular. He asked me where I was from; we got into the whole Oakland conversation, the Raiders [and] all kinds of just random stuff. Then it was just ‘Well what do you do?’ I put [some music] on and everything we were there for just kinda got thrown to the left and he was like, ‘Let’s talk about this. What are you doing with this? What’s the plan?’”
That meeting set his career into high gear as Raphael provided an outlet for Adrian to grow. “It turned into a mentorship. I can always call [and ask], ‘What do you think about this record, what do you think about putting this on this project?’ It’s always a real legit answer [like], ‘Yeah I like that, that’s dope for you’ or, ‘I think you just like that song.’ It’s been a lot of direction he has given me.”
Politicking with Raphael Saadiq would also put Adrian in the presence of Stevie Wonder twice. “I’ve met Stevie twice. [First time was] at Babyface’s star, the signing for his [Hollywood] star. Ray called me one morning and was like, ‘Yo dude I’m taking you down here so we can watch Babyface get his star.” We sitting by the Kardashian’s [and] I’m trying my best to look forward. Stevie’s there and we ended up taking a picture. We didn’t really talk; it was quick. They were moving everybody in and out.”
‘The second time we were at Clive Davis’ GRAMMY party. We walk in and we’re sitting down [with] Quincy Jones and everybody is posted up right there. Stevie walks in. [Venue staff] come over to our table and they’re looking around. The whole table is full of legends and I’m like the only one there that ain’t got no points on the board. I’m just sitting there soaking it in. They look at me [and] they like, ‘Can we see your ticket?’ Ray’s holding the tickets. Ray’s like, ‘We got tickets.’ He won’t pull them out. He got two tickets in his pocket. [The lady] is like, ‘I know you have tickets Ray, I just need to see his.’ He was like, ‘No, you can’t have it. We got it. What are you talking about? We good.’ She goes, ‘Ray you don’t understand,” and he goes, ‘You know what? We outta here.’ She’s like, ‘Stevie needs a seat.’ So he’s like, ‘Well why don’t you have a seat for Stevie? Why doesn’t he have a seat already? Why are you coming over here? We’re in the middle of a speech right now? You know what? Don’t worry about it. Come on, we out.’ You can see us on the big screen getting up. He’s like, ‘Stevie, man. They need to be doing you better than that.’ [Stevie’s] like, ‘No man don’t leave, don’t leave.’ [Ray] shook his hand and was like, ‘This is Adrian Marcel.’ [Stevie says], ‘You don’t have to get up for me.’ It was dope, man, to like see them in that moment being real rather than just on camera. It was dope. I doubt he remembers it but I definitely got my two points [on the board] with Stevie.”
Adrian also discussed how Raphael helped him with his latest album, GMFU (Got Me Fucked Up). “He was one of those voices, amongst many at the time, that actually had some substance to [his advice]. With this new project he not only sat down and helped direct it, he was like ‘I’ma let you do you your thing but let’s go from scratch. Let’s sit down. Let’s actually build.’ We [had] never sat in the studio and created together. I felt like it was a level up for me.
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