That Grape Juice‘s latest feature ‘Meet The Makers’ spotlights the gifted names who engineer the spectacle in all facets of entertainment. Music, TV, and beyond.
Today we celebrate the work of Prince Charlez, the brains behind Rihanna’s ‘ANTI’-lifted single ‘Needed Me.’
Our conversation with Charlez takes place as he celebrates the release of his new project ‘Black & Gold‘, an eight-track set now available to spin here.
Of course, there’s little doubt that the project will attract the attention of Rihanna loyalists who have him to thank for the aforementioned Grammy nominated number ‘Needed Me.’
I started out when I was 16 and began working with the producer Red One after a friend introduced me to him. As a child I was fortunate enough to be around great writers and that inspired me to pick up the pen myself.
Once in One’s camp, Charles penned numbers for Usher’s sixth studio album ‘Raymond v. Raymond’ making him one of the industry’s most sought after scribes.
Then, keen to find inspiration to write fresh hits, the singer/songwriter made his way to Europe to take a break from the demands of the fast-paced industry.
While there, he stood as one of several up & coming R&B songwriters invited to pen material for Beyonce who, after witnessing the rise of Electronic Dance Music on the charts, sought to create fresh opportunities for lyricists in her genre.
I was in Milan when I got a call asking me to return to Los Angeles to work on Beyonce’s self-titled surprise album. I was sent the instrumental for the song which would become Ring Off. Bey didn’t like the first one so my publisher asked me to send another one. At first I was discouraged because the practice of writing songs and trying to get them onto albums is tough because there are a million other writers submitting songs for the same albums. However, I gave it another shot, freestyled over the beat, sent it back and got a call from Big Jon (Beyonce’s A&R collaborator) who told me that he wanted it. That’s how ‘Ring Off’ happened. I didn’t think about the songwriting process because I wanted to express myself. My mother went through it so I wrote something that I know she’d would have appreciated. It’s a song encouraging women to stand up for they are and to fight what they believe in. Roc Nation heard it and so they called me in to work with Rihanna.
When you’re working with an artist you’re there to enhance what the singer wants and articulate what they want to express but it can be easier because you’re in the room with them. The placement game is hard because the challenge is to expound on an idea, submit it and hope the artist takes it. It can be tedious. Once the song is done, you sign up to a royalty collection company after agreeing with the other writers how much each of you are to earn from the song. That’s usually based on what you contributed. The royalty collections company collects your share of the song on your behalf and pays it out to you…after a while. Some writers earn from their work on the spot by charging the artists to work with them and all producers take half of the song’s earnings. If you’re not in that position the game is hard because it can take up to a year before you see any of the money you’ve earned.That’s why I think it’s important that writers know their worth and are mentored because unlike artists and producers they aren’t protected from the dangers of not earning from your work as soon as you’ve created it. Would you believe I worked five jobs even after i had a placement to earn money. That’s why it can be difficult.
I was with Rihanna, Starrah and DJ Mustard in Malibu and we were playing beats Mustard has created. She loved one that she heard and asked if we could write to it. It was done in twenty minutes. When she came in the next day we played it for her and she flipped out! She recorded it then and there and gave it so much energy and life. We were shocked because we thought that she would have preferred one of the Pop songs we had penned but no, she wanted ‘Needed Me’ and I’m thankful that she did. Who better than her to tell that story.
I want to start my introduction to the world with black and Gold because it represents strength and years of hard work, in some Very dark places. Yet and still, I’m coming out and breaking through boundaries “Gold”.