It’s a simple query, famously crooned in 1971 by soul legend Marvin Gaye, amidst a continuing civil right struggle in a nation at war both domestically and abroad. It’s a question still being asked today. Yet Bilal, like Gaye, offers no answers, merely a deep pondering on the current times with his moody fourth studio LP, In Another Life . “I’ve always seen myself like a Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley or Curtis Mayfield,” the golden-voice singer says, pointing to three of his many musical inspirations. “They could speak politically, but still wanted people to have something to play at night, to make love.”
Bilal fully embraces that duality on In Another Life , informed by CNN headlines and producer Adrian Younge’s dusty melodies. On the uncanny lead single “Satellites,” he takes the perspective of an extraterrestrial visitor observing a world in ruin. “We’re making music that speaks to the times that we’re in,” says Bilal, who’s collaborated with everyone from Beyoncé to Justin Timberlake to Robert Glasper. “So we have to make something that people of the future can go back to and say, ‘This is the way it felt back then.’ There are beautiful, sweet moments on this album and there are dark moments.” Checkout our latest interview with Bilal from the Essence Music Festival 2015.