Brian McKnight On New Album And Justin Timberlake: ‘He Knows His Power’

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(Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Erik Parker
Erik Parker
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The same day Justin Timberlake‘s flashy falsetto shattered expectations with The 20/20 Experience, Brian McKnight quietly released the soul sounds of his latest studio album, More Than Words.

While the light shines bright on Timberlake’s 20/20 (debuted at No. 1 with 968,000 sold in one week), McKnight’s classic R&B set sold 7,000 on the indy E-One Entertainment. McKnight, who has been nominated for 16 GRAMMYs (received none), is accustomed to being overshadowed or overlooked by the mainstream. And when it comes to Justin Timberlake, he too understands the singer’s success and overall commercial appeal.


“I am very proud to have worked with him in the beginning and to see what he has evolved into on the stage, on the silver screen, and as he continues,” McKnight told “It’s pretty phenomenal to see that he’s been gone and comes right back you see where his passion is.”

Timberlake appeared on McKnight’s “My Kind Of Girl” from his 2001 album, Superhero. And the following year, he wrote and produced on Timberlake’s Justified.

“Knowing him the way I do, he knows what hes doing,” said Brian McKnight. “He knows what he wants to do. He understands his power. Nobody gets to debut new songs nobody ever heard on the GRAMMYs. And then every commercial that comes on, he’s on that too.”

When the dazzle of Justin Timberlake’s return and triumph dies down, Brian McKnight’s steady R&B standards will still be there. He explained how he gave new texture to his love songs on More Than Words.

“If you listen to this record, it’s not happy, it’s not sad, it is the right place to be,” he said. “I’m right on that line of optimisim. And I’m generally a pessimist. [laugh]“

After the controversy surrounding his X-rated song, “If Ur Ready To Learn,” an instructional for climax-deprived women, he found out how far he could push the envelop.

“On one song ['Get U 2 Stay'], I wanted to applaud the guy who invented stretchy pants for women,” he said. “I took the first line, ‘Got your stretchy pants’ and went from there. Basically, [I'm] saying whatever I need to say to get you to stay, because I feel like we’re meant to be. It’s what I do with a little tongue-in-cheek.”

As for the sales of More Than Words, McKnight said he’s happy with his loyal fan base.

“In my case, there’s still an audience out there who may not spend $10 on a record but will spend $80 or $120 on your ticket when you come to town,” he said. “I know my math may be rusty because I took calculus in the eleventh grade, but that ain’t bad. [laugh]”

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