Tyrese Talks New Relationship Show 'It's Not You, It's Men' With Rev Run, Plus 'Black Rose' Being His Last Album
Over a savory three-course meal in the dimly lit Electric Room at New York's Dream Downtown Hotel on Thursday night (Jan. 22), Rev Run and Tyrese switch their full-time to gigs to love doctors as they tackle relationship-centered questions about their new OWN show It's Not You, It's Men.
"Really it's about me and Tyrese talking about me being a very married man and him being a very single man," says Rev, who at one point, led the table in prayer. "At one time, we were gonna name the show in my mind How to Catch and Keep a Man so Tyrese would be the "catch" and my part is how to "keep."
"I have a problem with being single," Tyrese offers. "People have to remind me of who I am sometimes -- like I'm not 'Love me 'cause of what I drive, where I work or what I live in. I'm a regular guy. If anything, I run into girls who are more caught up in who they are versus me. I don't like being single."
Run -- one-third of the iconic rap crew Run-D.M.C. and reality show veteran who's starred on MTV's Run's House before taking his talents to the Travel Channel for Rev Runs Around The World -- is the perfect foil for Tyrese -- the unfiltered R&B stud who continues to top the Adult R&B charts with his latest single "Shame" off the independently released and internationally successful LP Black Rose. With Tyrese's often outlandish perspectives as a single man, Rev Run sounds like the voice of reason from the perspective of a man who has been married for 21 years.
The pair don't just "mansplain" the highs and woes of relationships but rather steer the dialogue on topics like infidelity to the importance of sex in a relationship with a mix of outspoken guests from comedian Bill Bellamy to bald beauty Amber Rose and even Rev Run's wife Justine Simmons and "everyday people."
"This is not gimmicks," adds Tyrese. "It’s enough ratchet TV out there, fighting and throwing drinks in each other’s face and pulling it each other hair for ratings."
Executive producer Eric Pankowski -- who has worked on The Ellen Degeneres Show and the reboot of The Arsenio Hall Show -- offers that the standard for booking guests for Tyrese and Rev Run's new series wasn't based on a calendar for celebrities to plug their projects. "We didn't, one time, look at any of that for this show," he said. "What we did is we came up with the topics for the show. The first show is "Sex & Sensibility" where we talk about sex before marriage or sex after marriage. We started with the topics and then we sat down and said, 'Okay who would be good? Who could contribute to this show?'
After guests folded their napkins post-dinner, Tyrese sat down with Billboard to discuss Oprah's support for his new small-screen endeavor with Rev, the significance of his current Grammy nominations for R&B song and traditional R&B performance for "Shame" and why Black Rose may be his final album. It's Not You, It's Men airs Saturday, Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.
What did working on this show teach you about yourself?
Honestly, it was just very powerful to be in such an intimate space with the guests. I feel like the people we brought on our show were standing very firm and stern on what their feelings, thoughts and perspectives were. I don’t necessarily get a chance to engage with random people I don’t know on that level. I move in my circles and we kind of have conversations. I do things from a social media perspective but if you don’t write something in the comments then I don’t know what you’re thinking but I don’t know you, I’m just reading what you said on the Internet. We were just all the way in and it was an intimate, very special experience and I was inspired by a lot of things that were said.
What makes your chemistry with Rev Run work?
I wouldn’t do it if it was anybody else, for one and two, he happens to be my best friend in the whole world. I’ve never connected with anybody I’ve had more in common with, more inspired by who they are, the walk that they walk with God, committed to his wife 21 years and never looked at other women, never cheated on his wife, so much more up that ladder of success as far as where he is in his life. It’s not about success on charts, I'm talking about success in life. Very very different. You could be number one on Billboard and be depressed. I am so inspired by these God-given circles that I now move and travel in. I’m excited about the world finally seeing firsthand what me and Rev’s whole situation is.
I talk to this dude 15 times a day -- text, call, emails, updates -- it’s pretty serious and then his wife is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever been exposed to ever in my life. Rev doesn’t stay in hotels in L.A. He stays in my guest room with his wife, Russy, Miley -- they all got they own room. They stay at my house whenever they come to L.A.
Do you think Oprah would ever appear on the show?
Yeah, I think Oprah’s gonna come but that’s just such an obvious thing to do. I feel like what we’re bringing to the table, we were able to stand on our own two feet and live up to what she believed us to be. Both me and Rev have been on The Oprah Winfrey Show -- I was on there three times and now I have a show with Oprah. So God works in mysterious ways. We’re just very very proud of this and very humbled by the support. When we do meetings at OWN, there’s a minimum of 25 people in this meeting. She has the entire building behind this show. The passion and excitement is coming from the top down.
Why are your two current Grammy nominations especially significant?
I’m very honored. I feel like this week, “Shame” is number one for 13 weeks and I’m [on] an independent label and they got four people that work with us. We looking at all these major labels that’s got 1500 people that’s on their staff and we are like mad scientists in a basement putting all the right spices and energy into a pot. We’re implementing and executing the best way we know how and we have a formula. Because you’re popular doesn’t mean that you have a song that people love and believe in. I mean I’m just kind of a guy that’s came out the blue. I’m not doing songs that are considered relevant. My  song “Stay” was completely irrelevant, had nothing to do with what was being played on the radio, ended up being No. 1 for 11 weeks.
What is relevant to you?
Relevant to me is when you have people like DJ Mustard, and DJ Mustard is producing for everybody in the game. Everybody wants to work with him because it seems like radio is only playing DJ Mustard. I love DJ Mustard -- he’s one of my brothers but I didn’t want to do the DJ Mustard thing. I’m not purposely running away from what’s popular. I just don’t feel it for me. I can’t jump on that beat. I don’t dance, I can’t keep up with that, it ain’t my vibe. I am very connected to my individuality, my truth and I know there’s a lot of people who can relate to pain, challenges and struggles when it comes to life, love and relationships.
My entire album isn’t painful but Black Rose was number one in 15 countries. It was no. 1 on the Top 200 Billboard. No. 1 for a couple weeks, maybe three weeks on the R&B charts and now we’re No. 1 for 13 weeks with one single. It’s hard to release something else because “Shame” won’t go away. Those are all live musicians including Wah Wah Watson, who played on every Barry White and Marvin Gaye record, there’s Warryn Campbell who’s already won 10 Grammys and produced [Black Rose]. He’s from Watts and I’m from Watts. His wife is one of the Maries of Mary Mary so in my mind, because there’s way more followers than leaders, we’ve been number one so long we have forced singers and musicians to dust those guitars off that they don’t use no more, to pull out their keyboard, to pull out that bass guitar and hire a live musician, get a real singer in there and get away from AutoTune and do it live [with] live instrumentation.
What does the future of R&B look like?
I’m not only excited for me. I’m excited for R&B and it is my truth. I do not have another solo album in me so if I was able to gracefully bow out of music -- I never said I wasn’t gonna do music anymore, I’m not doing another album. So if I’m able to leave the game and Black Rose is almost at 400,000 records sold domestically and internationally, and we number 1 and all these different statistics that set the tone as I gracefully bow out of my solo albums, I hope and pray that every other single R&B soul singer, live musician get a record deal, get off the shelves and they get away from the gimmicks, antics and all these quick, viral hits and get back to real talent, real singers, real musicianship, real songs the way it used to be.
I don’t know R&B and soul music to be any other way. R&B soul is not black, it’s everybody. Wouldn’t be no such thing as Teena Marie. C’mon, you can’t say that she’s not R&B/ soul because she’s white. R&B and soul is a specific feeling in a genre -- that’s what it’s about. I hope and pray that the success around this Black Rose album and “Shame” re-inspires singers, musicians and record labels to give us another chance and get away from all this gimmicky bullshit. I’m tired of it. That’s why I didn’t fall in line with quote-unquote hot.