He discovered soul music at age 11 and never looked back. Now, with a monster album that transcends the racial divide (much like his marriage to actress Paula Patton) Robin Thicke is ready for all the love.
Despite Robin Thicke’s rising visibility — and the loyal backing of Oprah Winfrey, who has invited him to appear on her show twice in a three-month period — the soul singer is disarmingly self-deprecating.
The GIANT cover star also isn’t one to bite his tongue, and he’ll intelligently debate any subject — be it the state of urban music, the problem with organized religion, or Don Imus’s offensive remarks.
On his high school years:
“I got kicked out of Campbell Hall High School in Los Angeles, which is a really prestigious school. I was a class clown, so I was always getting kicked out of class and getting suspended. So I got kicked out and ended up going to another private school, Montclair Prep, which really was a school that all the private schoolers went to when they get kicked out. I was there with like seven other kids that got kicked out of other private schools…. I didn’t even wanna go to my senior year of school. I was like 17 or 18, getting royalty checks from Brandy, making like $100,000. I didn’t even wanna go to my senior year of school. I went on home study, which meant I read a couple of books and got a B+. So then I showed up at my high school graduation with my cap and gown, and everyone was looking at me like, ‘What the fuck are you doing here, homie? You haven’t been here! What the fuck you mean you’re graduating?’”
On the difference between him and Justin Timberlake:
“I would say that Justin’s been a star since he was 16 and it took me 14 years to become a star. That’s the big difference. I’m the guy who had to keep trying. I’m the guy who took four record deals and never hit. I’m the guy who has actually has been through all the pain and the struggle and the heartache. And when I sing now, I sing with pain and heartache and struggle in my voice.”
On seeing his black friends cope with racism:
“It makes you angry, as angry as you could possibly be. And it’s why people like myself, when we see stuff like that, I wanna write about how much we’re all the same and how much we’re supposed to love each other and share and celebrate our differences and our similarities. I know that there are killers, assholes, murderers, and thieves that are on Wall Street and they’re the worst people on the planet, and I also know that there are thugs who have no love left in their hearts and who will kill, maim, and steal because they’ve given up on themselves or on being righteous and good. And there’s also loving and caring and amazing people everywhere and in every section of society. I think there are good people everywhere. And I think that people forget… even with all this bullshit about what the ‘hood is. I mean, people act like the only black people or Puerto Ricans or people of any ethnicity who make it out of the ‘hood are athletes and rappers and, in reality, we have more minority doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors than ever before. Society as a whole is changing because the white man is finally losing some control.”
On the response to Don Imus’ racist on-air comments:
“Don Imus calls some women “nappy headed ‘hos” and all I’ve seen on television for the past few days is, ‘Is hip-hop responsible?’ What the fuck is that? They’re out of their fuckin’ minds. Russell Simmons said it perfectly. Yesterday I was watching TV and he was on one of these shows and Russell was saying, ‘Instead of addressing the fact that these artists are telling the truth about their upbringing and their society, why don’t we face the real issue which is why they’re growing up in poverty in this society? Let’s fix that problem. Instead of fixing the artist for telling the truth about how fucked up everything is, why don’t you fix how fucked up it is?’ That’s the real problem. The real problem is there are no good schools, no real opportunities, no self-pride and opportunity in the streets. So if you put that in the streets, then the lyrics will change. If everybody has to struggle to survive and it’s hard to believe in love because you’re not being loved or being helped or being told you can amount to anything, then don’t expect the lyrics to be about those things.”
On his song “Cocaine” and rumors that he’s a cocaine addict:
“I don’t care—a little mystery is good. I don’t do cocaine. I’m a weed smoker. But I also know that drugs… People have a tendency to just go by what the government and media tell us—that certain drugs are good and that certain drugs are bad. I think using drugs in celebration, every once in a while, is a wonderful thing. And that’s just my own opinion. I would never tell a kid that I do drugs, like a 10-year-old that looks up to me, ‘cause I don’t wanna set a bad example. But I also know I’m a good person. I have a good heart. I have a wife who loves me. I have family that loves me. I worked my butt off. I make music that inspires people and that inspires me. So why should I feel guilty or less of a human being or that God doesn’t love me because I choose to do drugs sometimes? As long as I don’t do it the way I’ve done it before at times, which is out of anger and jealousy and depression — that’ll kill you. But drugs in celebration everyone in a while, it’s the same thing as having a drink. Alcohol is a drug, but so is penicillin and aspirin. Those seem to be good drugs. So why can’t weed be good? Why can’t it help your appetite and make you calm down and make you less nervous and make you less angry when you don’t want to be angry? Why does the government have to tell us what’s good or bad? Why can we take sleeping pills but we can’t smoke one of God’s plants? It doesn’t make any sense.”
On why he doesn’t believe in institutionalized religion:
“I have a tough time with religion because of what they’ve done to people. They’ve taken money from people, and the churches, the pastors, and the Pope always seem to have more money than the people around them. And, even more importantly, women aren’t equal. How can I believe in or support a religion where only men can be priests and women can only be nuns and men can have sex but women can’t? And [they’ll tell you], ‘You’re only going to heaven if you’ve done this.’ And I’m like, ‘Look, I’m going to heaven!’”