The product of his sleepless nights is Forbidden, Hall’s most ambitious creative project to date. The concept album consists of 30 songs and a two-hour visual album, with multiple featured artists and a story of persecution unfolding over the course of the music.
It’s understandable why the project has consumed so much of Hall’s time — the singer had two months between playing in Chicago on Broadway and his 46-city American tour starting on March 29 to record, choreograph, film, produce and release his behemoth record.
Many of those tasks Hall handled himself — the triple-threat says that while he would love to have been able to hire more people to help him execute a project, his time constraints and creative vision wouldn’t allow for it. “Plus, when I do bring in other people, I typically spend a lot of money for something that I don't like as much as just doing it myself,” he adds.
But Forbidden almost didn’t come to pass. Hall says that after delaying the release of the project numerous times, he had “crazy breakdowns” where he was unsure if his endeavor was too industrious to finish. So, as anyone would, he turned to his good friend Taylor Swift. “I would go over to her house, and over cinnamon sticks from Domino's, she would just listen to me crying and thinking that this wasn’t possible,” he says. "Every time I was dealing with major problems I'd call her, and I'm just so grateful that she'd take the time to sit down and listen to me vent.”
Swift, who Hall refers to fondly as a "mentor," told Todrick that the album was going to be a success, and that regardless of when he released it, his fans were going to love it. Lucky for Hall, she was right — on the day of its release (March 27), Forbidden reached No. 2 on the iTunes overall albums chart, while claiming the No. 1 spot on the website’s pop charts.
When Hall started thinking about writing a new album while on vacation in Hawaii, he says that he began imagining a scenario that later became the crux of Forbidden’s story — what if we lived in an American society where everything was reversed, both literally and metaphorically? Thus the society of Nacirema was born, Hall’s fictional universe where being black and gay is considered the norm, while white and straight people are persecuted even to the point of death for failing to adhere to the status quo.
Hall spared no detail in the album — from the characters’ palindromic names to the direction in which a cross on a church wall hangs, every part of his new America was inverted to reflect his point of view. “This story could be flipped and it would be the exact same thing, we'd just be looking at it differently,” he says. “I want to show that the shoe could easily be put on the other foot, and to maybe have people question that for a moment.”