Ginuwine is a master of the slow jam. The Washington, D.C.-born singer emerged in the R&B scene in the mid 1990s, bestowing upon us some unforgettable panty-droppers with the help of producer Timbaland. Ginuwine’s hits—from the slow grind ode “Pony” to the sweet and sincere “Differences”—still get played heavily today. Meanwhile, he’s busy working on a new album, Same Ol’ G, due later this year. In advance of his April 7 performance at 1 Oak, we caught up with the 44-year-old to talk about new music, his legacy and playing himself on Parks & Recreation.
What can we expect from one of your club sets?
I bring a lot of energy. I like to get the crowd involved in what I’m doing rather than them just looking at me and singing along. I like the acting perspective. I like the modeling perspective. The dancing and the singing. All that’s included. I believe that people who pay their money to come see me want to see a show. That’s what I’m about to do.
What songs do you enjoy performing the most? Are there any you’re tired of?
I never get tired of them because they’re my songs and that’s what’s kept me working and keep people knowing who I am, you know? The song that I get the most reaction from would probably be “Pony.”
When that song was released in 1996, did you have any idea that it would have such a legacy? People still go crazy for it.
I knew it was a hit. I didn’t know how long it would last. For it to still be here and for people to love it the way they do, putting it in movies, it makes me feel happy. It’s much appreciated. Those people that always keep me out there and keep me relevant. Big respect to all the people who re-do it and all the things people do with “Pony.” I’m glad that I’m able to still be here and perform it and be the one who actually brought that to music. It’s a great feeling.
Earlier this year, Drake sampled your 1999 single “So Anxious” on his If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late mixtape. Have you heard it? What are your thoughts on being sampled?
I’ve definitely heard it. I also heard that August Alsina re-did it. That’s always such a great thing to hear people re-do your music. That just shows you that they appreciate it. [“So Anxious”] was one of those songs that was a hit when it was out. As long as you do a good job with [a sample], it’s probably gonna do the same thing for you.
And “Differences” is a classic slow dance number.
It’s always a song that people play at their weddings. I’m always getting that. To have written that song about myself and for it to be in weddings as much as it is, it’s great to know that. There’s very few songs that stand the test of time that get played in weddings a lot. That’s one of them. I’m happy that I’m part of that as well.
You’re working on a new album called Same Ol’ G. What can fans expect?
They can expect to hear that old Ginuwine music. That old sound that they have come to love and appreciate. I’m not really trying to replicate what’s going on today with a lot of the young folks because that’s not my era. I like to stay within my generation. Some of the younger folks probably will like it if they’ve got an older spirit. Hopefully, I’m able to replicate the likes of Charlie Wilson and Frankie Beverly and all of them in the hopes that I’ll be able to stay on the road when I’m older.
You played a fictional version of yourself on Parks & Recreation. How did you get involved with the show?
They called me up. I love to act a little bit, so when they asked me and told me they wanted me to be a part of it, I was ready to go.
Had you seen it before?
Actually, no. Not until everybody was hitting my Twitter and everything saying “Hey, they put your song in this show!” I was like, “Oh, okay!” Then I looked at it and there’s that one scene where [Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford] says, “You don’t know Ginuwine? Ginuwine?” I thought that was real funny. So, then I kinda followed it a little bit. But I very seldom follow TV. I don’t have a lot of time for it. But I watched a couple episodes and thought it was quite funny. I was happy to be a part of that show.
That’s one of my favorite scenes, when Tom Haverford is listing his “Oh-no-no” relationship deal breakers. What would be your oh-no-nos?
[Laughs.] I don’t know. Probably the same thing.
If they don’t know who Ginuwine is?
Yeah, exactly. [Laughs.]
You were previously a spokesman for Adult Chocolate Milk. Can you describe what it tastes like?
It tastes exactly like chocolate milk, but it will get you high as a kite! It’s one of those drinks that will sneak up on you. That’s what’s so great about it. It tastes great, but it will get you.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
No, I just want fans to come out and support. Ladies, wear some red. That’s my color.