Considering that she named her album “The Art of Love and War,” Angie Stone comes off as surprisingly calm, cool and collected. While The Art of Love and War, Stone’s fifth album, focuses on the trials and tribulations of relationships, speaking to Stone reveals none of the angst and drama that are normally present on her releases. Instead, Stone just exudes contentment. On her album, tracks like “Baby” play against the mood of “Happy Being Me,” showcasing Stone’s personal and emotional growth. Angie may have started her career in tears with “No More Rain [in this Cloud]” it is obvious that she plans to finish on top.
Clutch sat down with Angie Stone and had a quick rap session about love, men, the black community, broke love and her soon to be book in progress.
Clutch: I notice in a lot of your music you talk about black men in particular, especially in your song “Brother.” It also seems like a lot of your relationships are with black men. So what is it about black men that appeals to you?
Angie Stone: I just think they are strong, beautiful creatures that never get their credit for being just good strong beautiful men. Instead they are being judged in a negative light all the time [because of] the clothes they wear, the way they wear their hair…they are artistically and creatively special to me. And the fact that they are trendsetters sometimes works against them. It’s a culture thing.
C: What do you think about the state of black love?
AS: That’s very difficult to ask me because I am so in love right now it’s crazy!
C: Really? Congratulations?
AS: Thank you. I can honestly say that in the past, for me – I can’t really speak for everyone else – men have a problem with women who are making more money or who are positioned higher. And it definitely tears down the black family. I feel like it’s designed that way – that’s why I did the song “Brother.” I wanted to make sure that men knew that we are not to judge love by the monetary value in it. We should definitely judge it for the foundation and for the heart and for the genuineness of what love is about as opposed to what it can bring to the table. Love is pure, love is innocent, love is broke.
C: I feel that.
AS: When love is rich and love is famous it is plagued with a lot of controversy. Broke love is unconditional love.
C: Word. I had told one of my friends I was interviewing you, and she begged me to ask this question: Where do you meet so many fine men?
C: I told her I would not let the interview go without asking the question.
AS: Well, you know what? As difficult as it is for a lot of people to believe, men – good looking or not – are looking for real women. They look for friends, they look for sistership, they look inside. Not every man is looking for a cutie. I had a guy tell me one time he’d rather have an average looking girl because he has less problems. I think I am a magnet for men who are attractive because they feel like I am not a hootchie. I’m not wild, I haven’t been out there, I represent a strong black sistah. I remind them of their mothers and their sisters. Everything they would like in a woman they find in a friend in me. And a lot of them – I got some gorgeous friends.
They can let their hair down with me. They can be real with me. They can get real answers. And before you know it, your best friend can turn around and fall in love with you. You begin to look beyond the shell. And that’s not to indicate that I don’t think I’m beautiful – I think I am – but when you fall in love with the spirit of a person you have the very essence of that person. Everything else doesn’t really matter, and I can say this to be true on both sides. As many fine men as I have met, I’ve fallen in love with a very average, nice looking man. In my opinion, he’s just average [looking] – but I love him more than the most beautifulest man in the world! I love him because his spirit is so unmatched. I just think that’s the draw. Trust me, a lot of women – and I’m getting ready to write a book –
C: Are you?
AS: Yeah. [goes back to her original thought.] A lot of women hate me because of it. But don’t hate me, just learn how to be like that, and you can have what you want out of life. I’m a Sagittarius, so we’re real folk at the end of the day.
C: Ha. My mom is a Sagittarius, so I know what that’s like.
AS: There you go. So you already know how your mom is. She’s a people person, she’s a magnet for people and she genuinely cares. She a man magnet too?
C: Umm-hmm…and she’s quick to tell a hater where to go. She also chooses who to deal with very carefully.
AS: Right. That’s who were are. We don’t sit back and hand-pick people, but…I’ll give you an example. Blair Underwood is a good friend of mine. Boris Kodjoe. When these people see me – and I’ve never spoken to them – my music has spoken to their situation and there is a realness there that they want to touch. So when I first saw Boris Kodjoe, he came up to me like “Hey Girl!” and gave me a hug. Like he’s been knowing me forever! So when I walk in a room like that, these are the guys who can’t wait to get next to you because there’s something about you. It’s flattering, but at the same time it gives me an edge on a lot of things because I feel like could have any one of these men if I want. Because I am that confident about who I am. But I’m not loose, I’m not wild, I’m not in the business for just laying up with nobody. I really, really am sincere about being your friend. And if I’m your friend, nine times out of ten there’s gonna be a spark somewhere down the line because it’s just the make up of a person.
Tell your girlfriend that it’s just something deep inside a Sagittarius woman, we just got that magic power! We don’t even understand!
I think though, when I landed D’Angelo – and people need to understand that before D’Angelo was ever a star, I was already there – D’Angelo perused me. I didn’t go after him, he came after me. And it’s always been that way. I very seldom go after men. The few I do go after, I get to a place where if I want you, I want you, and if I don’t I let it go.
C: I feel that.
AS: Tell her I said “Ignore brings more.”
C: Ok, what about your Baby video? I watched it last night, got the plot, feeling it – and it looks like you go back to the dude that wronged you at the end of the video. Did I get the wrong impression?
AS: No, what happened was we were best friends…and we ran out of money for the video.
That’s the real truth about it. The way that it was supposed to be was…you’re supposed to see the part where the crowd laughs at him, they see that it was really me that beat the guy up [in the video]. You’re supposed to see the girl let him know it’s a wrap, it’s over, and then she was supposed to come to my house to apologize and give me a check to reward me. He was supposed to be sitting outside in the rain, begging me to let him back in. And when that doesn’t work, then he knocks on the door and brings me the milk, and I let him back in.
But that didn’t work because we were running late and over budget.
I guess the crux of it is once he got busted, [the video] tries to show you that when you got nothing, you come back to old reliable. And we don’t want to be that easy. Or that desperate. So…it was cute, but it would have been better if we would have gotten all those scenes in with him crawling back.
C: So, about that book you mentioned…
AS: Well, I just came up with a title I want to use. I think it’s going to be “Angie Stone: In the Shadow of a Sex Symbol.” Ummhmm.
C: Do you have a publisher yet?
AS: Not yet, I’m just starting it. You’re the first one to get wind of what I’m trying to do.
C: Nice title. I think I would buy the book…
AS: I know, that’s what my manager said! She said “Oh my God, they’re going to buy that just for the title.” And everyone wants to know. But just with the title, you kind of get an idea of what it’s going to be about. Being in the shadow of a sex symbol…it’s just hard.
C: How do you define yourself? How do you define your identity?
AS: I am very focused on my spirituality. My kids keep me grounded. I have to survive for them. I’m the only child my mom and dad have and I pretty much support my whole family, so I hang on to my faith very strongly and I have a very good man in my life now that helps me stay balanced. When I need some me time and I just need to be normal, he is there to hold my hand and I am just grateful for that.
C: Do you want to share who he is?
AS: His name is Ashante. We call him Shawn. He’s wonderful. He’s in the corporate office of an airline – I won’t say which airline –
C: So he’s not in the industry?
AS: Oh no. That’s part of this. And he’s not all about that. He comes to shows with me and supports different things, but he’s not one who wants to be all over the magazines. He not looking for anything else. He just wants me. So I’m in hog heaven right now!
C: How do you define masculinity?
AS: I think masculinity has everything to do with your self-esteem as a man. If your self-esteem is intact and you’re proud then you don’t sit back and whine and complain. You get out – my man gets up and goes to work every day. It doesn’t matter that his girlfriend is Angie Stone. He has to be his own man. He has to feel worthy of the man that he is. And he doesn’t depend or lean on me.
Everything that we do is joyful.
He is structured in such a manner that responsibility is first. He goes to mailbox, he takes out the trash, he makes sure that the bills are paid. I’ve forgotten because I am so used to accountants doing this or that. It gives me a sense of realness. For the last 20-some-odd years I’ve not had to think about those things. I’m just spoiled in that way…but it is still good to have someone strong enough to say “Hey, let me take care of this.”
When I forget, he remembers.
I really trust him to do it because I know it’s going to get done. I was cleaning the house yesterday. I had three garbage bags full of stuff. He came in from work, I went out into the back for a minute, and when I got back the garbage was gone. He had taken the garbage can and I was like “yes!” You know, I’ve dated some guys where the garbage can pile up to the ceiling and I have to ask “Are you going to take the garbage out TODAY?”
So when you say masculine, I think that it has everything to do with being focused. Your self-esteem is in the right place and you know your role as a man. Part of that has to come with your upbringing. Even though I can afford to get my nails done, I still ask my man to get my nails done. I ask him if he can get me a laptop, and he just says yeah. It feels good.
I remember a few weeks ago I was dying for this Prada purse. I had a show in Atlanta, and he had it delivered to the hotel. It was all wrapped in a pretty ribbon and I was like “ooooh…”
So it’s teamwork. We do a lot for each other. He’s a Saints fan because he’s from Louisiana, so one day he came home he had Saints stuff hanging up in the closet. We look out for each other.
So that’s masculine. I’m masculine as a woman and he’s masculine as a man. He’s more masculine, but you know I rocks hard. In order to play, you gotta play hard, you know? But you have to know how to be a lady.
C: And how do you become a lady, according to Angie Stone?
AS: Well, if you’re a single woman, a lady always handles her business with the utmost class that she can. When you have a man, a lady must always remember to allow the man to be the man in the relationship. We can’t always be dominant. We can’t take over and we can’t be mothers to our men. We have to allow them to be men. In order to do that, we have to feel pampered and we have to be treated like ladies in our relationships. That’s the way that men feel respected. And they feel needed.
C: One last question – What do people need to be thinking about? What is most important to you, right now? What do people need to be aware of, in our community, according to Angie Stone?
AS: The most important thing that we need to know as a people is that our self love equates to every once of love that we get and give in the world. I think we need to focus on who we are, where we are going, and what our purpose is. Once you define that everything else falls into place.
C: Is there anything else you want to add?
AS: Oh, well…if your girlfriend needs any more pointers, tell her to holla at me!