After gaining initial notice as a featured guest (a.k.a. “The Black Angel”) on 2Pac’s “Brenda’s Got a Baby” and “Keep Ya Head Up,” Hollister and his earthy tenor claimed fame as a member of Blackstreet (“Before I Let You Go,” “Joy”). Then Hollister forged his own R&B lane with real-life, message-bearing anthems like “My Favorite Girl,” “One Woman Man,” “Can’t Stay” and his most recent top 10 (No. 7) R&B hit “Spend the Night.”
Watch the video for “Definition of a Woman” here:
A new album, however, isn’t the only thing on Hollister’s plate. In addition to being back on the road with Blackstreet, he’s rehearsing for his role in the stage adaption of the popular 1997 film Love Jones. The cast for Love Jones: The Musical, traveling the country Sept. 13-Dec. 5, includes fellow R&B/hip-hop faves Musiq Soulchild, Raheem DeVaughn, MC Lyte, Marsha Ambrosius and Chrisette Michele. On the horizon: a duets album with Angie Stone (“That’s my girl, my partner right there”). The two first intermingled their voices on “Begin Again,” a track from Stone’s current album Dream. Reuniting on the engaging “Receipts" -- a sequel of sorts that appears on Hollister’s MANuscript -- sparked the idea of the duo recording a duets album.
During a recent phone conversation with Billboard, Hollister riffed on everything from female power ("Like Beyoncé says: Women run the world. And I’m not afraid to say it") to why he still feels underappreciated despite his success.
Inspiration for the album’s title:
This is for every woman to be able to give their man and say, “Here, baby, listen to this and get it together.” Or every man can give it to his girl and say, “You know what, baby? I’m going to be this man.” And there are some things on the album that women should also pay attention to. This is the first time I’ve purposely made a unisex album. [Laughs] It all starts with respect for each other. Then honest communication: Talk it out rather than argue it out. Everything doesn’t always have to be a fight.
His definition of a woman:
It’s just what the song says: Somebody that always has your back. If most women knew the power that they have over us, they would use that power more. We don’t really like to admit it, but like Beyoncé says: Women run the world. And I’m not afraid to say it. I know I may get crucified and shot down. But we get more things done with women than we do with men.
Balancing church and his musical state:
I’ve been pastoring for five years now, and the parishioners are very cool. They actually encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing. They’re like, “That’s your vocation, your job. It’s not like you’re sleeping with everybody and talking about doing drugs.”
Turning the beloved Love Jones into a stage musical:
I think it’s ingenious of producer Melvin Childs to take this movie and put it onstage. It’s something people will want to see because of the original movie. But it’s a musical; not the movie or a sequel. You have some naysayers: “I wouldn’t touch that” or “[Original stars] Nia Long and Larenz Tate aren’t in it.” Whether people like it or not after they leave, that’s on them. However, I think people are going to love it.
Reflecting on his career:
I feel a little underappreciated, but it’s OK because I didn’t come into this to be a star. I came into this to be a messenger. I wanted to help people; not get rich and famous. I don’t care if you know my name. I care if my music has affected you. And if it has touched you, then I’m okay.