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  • Bilal has taken the long road to building his career, but release his fourth studio album last year.

    Bilal has taken the long road to building his career, but release his fourth studio album last year.

    Bilal’s list of collaborators reads like most people’s playlists: The Roots, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Erykah Badu, Common, John Legend, J Dilla, and Robert Glasper. But to get to this point in his career, it took a lot of waiting.

    While he was signed by Interscope in his early 20s, Bilal watched his label sit for years on the follow-up to his 2001 debut album 1st Born Second.

    It later leaked online under the title Love For Sale.

    A sophomore album from Bilal would not be released until 2010’s Airtight’s Revenge, making it nine years between full-lengths.

    Bilal: Soul Sista

    Late 2013 brought the release of A Love Surreal, distributed by eOne Music. In support of the album, Bilal played at Stage 48 in Manhattan last weekend (May 9), with more touring to be expected.

    Born in Philadelphia and currently living in New York City, the artist, real name Bilal Sayeed Oliver, is known for his wide vocal range, his genre-busting music and his live performances.

    He sat down with TheImproper to talk about his 15-year career and his four studio albums.

    TheImproper: I’ve heard you describe A Love Surreal as “acid-jazz, funk, kind of blues, with the influence of hip-hop.” Who are some of the artists most responsible for your appreciation of so many different genres?

    Bilal: I attribute a lot to my childhood musician friends and music school when it comes to my genre mixing. Also, my mother and father.

    IM: As somebody who has had to deal with all sorts of delays and other false starts with Love For Sale, what is it that keeps you going as an artist when the industry itself can be so cold?

    Bilal: I feel like I am doing what I was born to do and no amount of success or failure can do anything to change that, period.

    IM: In terms of recording and collaborations, what’s to be expected from you in the near-future?

    Bilal: People can always expect high-level, no-bullshit music from me.

    IM: Finally, Bilal, any last words for the kids?

    Bilal: Find what your good at and train yourself to be the best at it.