Mint Condition is a top R&B band that broke on the scene in the 1990s. The Minneapolis group has snagged both Grammy and Soul Train awards and toured with Prince. Lead singer Rick Kinchen recently announced a new solo project, “Truth Behind The Lies,” influenced by recent social events. This is my interview with him.
Otiko: Are you taking a break from Mint Condition? Is the band still active?
Kinchen: It was time for the lead singer to do his solo project and so I was put in a situation where I had to grow something else. I had put so much time into growing Mint Condition, from getting a distribution deal and management which then led to getting a booking agent. I had co-written and produced half of four of the last five albums as well as taken all the photographs since 2004. After all that, it was time to put some energy into myself and my own projects.
Otiko: What inspired the album?
Kinchen: My life, the injustice that my people have endured and continue to endure, and people who lie. I decided to speak truth to power and expose people who lie in order to get people of color incarcerated. My album is also inspired by love, which we have for both people who deserve it and those who don’t.
Otiko: Do you think there is still a market for socially-conscious music, especially R & B?
Kinchen: There’s a market for socially-conscious music now more than ever, given the events especially of 2020. I really just want to do whatever I want, say what I want to say and not have to think twice about it. I’ve been in a squeaky-clean group for over half my life, now I can curse in a record and say what I want to say because it’s just me.
Otiko: A lot of R & B fans complain about the lack of good R and B. But artists are still churning out music. Is there a disconnect there? Artists are still making music. Are they supported by the industry and radio?
Kinchen: I’m not disappointed in R&B because I don’t just listen to one style of music. R&B and hip-hop is coming out with new stuff every day. You can make a new playlist every couple of weeks. With other genres of music, you don’t really have that. You can only make a playlist every six months or so. R&B and hip hop turn out music all the time. If you’ve got the budget, you can have a hit on the radio. It all comes down to the funds at your disposal.
Otiko: How have new technological changes, such as streaming and people not buying music as much, changed the music business for artists? Have they helped or hurt artists?
Kinchen: I think it both helped and hurt. You don’t make as much money as you used to but it’s hard for me to say entirely as I haven’t gone to radio with my new album yet. I’m yet to see if the financial part there has changed.
Otiko: Lastly, how has the COVID-19 lockdown affected you?
Kinchen: I’ve been able to focus more, get more work done and improve my craft. I am very blessed it didn’t hurt me financially. I spent more time being concerned about everyone else other than me because I was ok.
For more information follow Kinchen on Facebook, Instagram: @rick_from_mint_condition or Twitter: @mcondition.