There's more to Musiq on many, many levels. Born as Taalib Johnson on 16-09-1977, the Philly native, the oldest of nine kids (and the self-described "black sheep of the family"), found himself homeless after dropping out of high school at seventeen. Knowing what he knows now, he believes he could have handled things differently. "I could have used that forum to my advantage 'cause there were people whose job was to teach me," he says now. But at the time he just "felt patronized. When you're young, you just want what you want and you don't see better." Much to his parents' chagrin, he found himself working menial jobs and sleeping on friends' couches just to get by. But even when things were at their worst - when he couldn't find a friendly sofa, for instance, and found himself sleeping on the train or on a bench in the park - Musiq found a creative way to get himself through the hard times.
"It's crazy," he remembers, "because when I look at my life now, I realize it was pretty bad back then, but I didn't look at it like that. You can call it wishful thinking or you can call it neurotic, I don't know and I don't care, but I knew that it was all just a movie and I was just going through the part of the movie where I was down. You couldn't tell me different; I just knew. That's how I chose to look at it."
But even at the worst of times, there was always music. He remembers playing dresser-piano and air guitar when he was a kid, and singing along to his father's Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway records before he really knew what they meant. But then he realized that "I can sing. I just looked at it as something I could do and something I wanted to get better at and something I could get attention from."
So much attention, in fact, that the thing he loved - the thing he was known for when he was gigging around Philly and hanging out with other musicians - became his actual name: Musiq. "There were people who knew of me but didn't really know me; they just knew me as 'that music dude.' So after getting that so much, I was like 'Just call me Musiq.' It was so fresh to me because if I had to be called anything, I would have wanted to be called Music. That's how much I dug it; when you see me, I want you to automatically think of music." And the Soulchild? "Musiq Soulchild is technically two ideas. 'Musiq' is the front man and 'Soulchild' is the idea behind it. It's basically me as an artist in this generation, representing the traditions and the legacies of the past soul stars."
Inspired by such icons as Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and Ray Charles, Musiq made a blockbuster debut right out of the gate with 2000's acclaimed "AIJUSWANASEING." Fueled by the breakthrough singles, "Just Friends (Sunny)" and "Love," the album went on to earn RIAA platinum for sales exceeding 1 million. In addition, Musiq was honored with a number of awards, including Billboard Music Awards for "Best New Artist," "Top R&B Artist," "Top R&B Male," and "Top R&B Single" (for "Love"); the Soul Train Music Award for "Best R&B/Soul Single" (for "Love"); and the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Award for "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Song" (for "Love"). Further nominations came from the Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, The Source Awards, BET Awards, and NAACP Awards.
In May 2002, Musiq unveiled his second album, "JUSLISEN," which entered both the Billboard 200 and Billboard's "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums" chart at #1. The collection, which featured a pair of hits in "Dontchange" and "Halfcrazy," was soon certified RIAA platinum and again earned Musiq a variety of prestigious awards. Among the trophies were Soul Train Awards for "Best R&B/Soul Album" and "Best R&B/Soul Single" (for "Dontchange"); an ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Award for "Award Winning Song" (for "Dontchange"); and a BMI "Urban" Award (for "Halfcrazy"). What's more, Musiq received nominations from the Grammy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards, NAACP Awards, and Billboard Music Awards.
"SOULSTAR," Musiq's third album, arrived one short year later and he was once greeted with critical. Hailed as one of the year's finest collections of contemporary R&B, the album featured two radio smashes, "Forthenight" and "Whoknows." The winner of the Soul Train Awards' "Best R&B/Soul Album," "SOULSTAR" also reaped nods from the Grammy Awards and BET Awards. It has been his least commercially successful album to date, but still managed to sell half a million copies.
In addition to the many honors he has received for his solo albums, Musiq also scored a 2004 Grammy Award nomination in the "Best Urban Alternative Performance" category, acknowledging his take on the classic "Are You Experienced?," found on the "POWER OF SOUL: A TRIBUTE TO JIMI HENDRIX" collection. Other extracurricular efforts include contributing guest vocals to the Roots' "Break You Off" (found on 2002's "PHRENOLOGY") and Carlos Santana's 2002 "SHAMEN."
In March 2007, Musiq's fourth album (and second in which he used the full 'Musiq Soulchild' moniker), was released. The album, LuvanMusiq (pronounced 'love and music') was led by the single "Buddy," which features a sample of a 1990s song of the same named by the Native Tongues hip-hop clique. The album was also Musiq's first release on his current label, Atlantic Records. In December 2008, his second Atlantic album, onmyradio, was released. His sixth studio album, MusiqInThemagiq, was released in May, 2011.