SweatFest is for lovers. SweatFest is for the people. What is SweatFest?
Keith Sweat is happy to explain.
SweatFest 2015, which will be hosted in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in June, is the first annual assembly of only the freak-nastiest R&B starts, including Sisqo, Teddy Riley, 112, and, yes, Keith Sweat himself. SweatFest is sex on the beach, literally. And to kick things off on day one, there will be a comedy roast of Keith Sweat, which, hopefully, will feature Jamie Foxx as a surprise guest.
After last year's Sweat Hotel Cruise, which featured a "male auction," who knows what sexytime R&B shenanigans Keith Sweat will be hosting this time around. Here we ask the man himself.
Interview by Justin Charity (@brothernumsa)
I want to talk about SweatFest. I’m looking at the line-up. It’s crazy. What is SweatFest?
SweatFest is my yearly event. I’m syndicated on radio, and SweatFest is the annual event that I’m starting. This will be the first one that I’m doing, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. A three-day festival.
Why in Jamaica?
I just thought it would be a nice place to start an annual event. There’s an abundance of hotels and beaches. There’s so many different activities you can host in that one element. For the first year, I just want SweatFest to be a little more refined.
Have you performed solo shows in Montego Bay?
I was out there in October, actually. I had a show. The crowd was cool, but it wasn’t big like what I’m doing now. It didn’t have the reach that I have now. I’m on the radio in over 50 markets. I figured I would launch SweatFest based on that syndication. I want to get the people in Jamaica involved with the event as well.
SweatFest is billed as “a celebration of your 25 years of music,” but you’ve got all these other huge R&B artists, too.
A lot of them are my friends. A lot of them I respect. Everybody that I put on the show has hits. They’ve all got hits. I did songs on Dru Hill’s first album. Kut Klose, I started their careers. I just wanted to put some real R&B on the bill. Singers who can perform and really sing. Not people singing off of tracks.
I’m fans of a lot of people that I put on my bill. And they respect my legacy. It’s a great marriage. I’m happy to get them involved in my first SweatFest.
What’s the ideal vibe of SweatFest? There’s a lot of sexytime R&B on this bill. Dru Hill. Ginuwine.
My goal is to put people in the frame of mind and to show the real substance of R&B. For a moment, people started losing sight of what R&B was. All the music lately has been so watered down. We’ve lost the substance and sense of where it all came from: Ronald Isley through the old days. People are starting to get back to real lyrics and real melodies. Real music. That’s what it’s starting to be again. I just wanted to put SweatFest together for all the people who are thirsty for that. I tour so much, and people be talking about, “Why don’t people do music like that anymore?”
When you talk about R&B making a resurgence, which singers are you thinking of?
You’ve still got Usher. Trey Songz, he’s definitely bringing the R&B element back. Those are the younger brothers that I think of when I think of the resurgence of R&B. You can hear the elements of R. Kelly in a lot of Trey’s music. It’s just a lot of things that the younger brothers are bringing back. It’s very, very much needed.
Have you reached out to Trey about possibly performing at SweatFest?
I hadn’t reached out to Trey since I know he just came off tour with Chris, and I know he went overseas to do some Nicki dates. But like I said, it’s my first one. I wasn’t trying to overload it this time around. I’ll make it different every year. If I just put everybody on it the first year, there’s nothing extraordinary about the second year; it’s just the same ol’ thing.
There’s going to be a comedy roast. Who’s the subject of the SweatFest comedy roast?
I’m the subject of the comedy roast.
Is Teddy Riley going to roast you?
G-Thang and a few other comedians. I want people to come and have a really enjoyable time. My album drops in June. I’m letting people hear the new album out there [in Montego Bay, at SweatFest] as well. So there’s a roast, followed by an all-day concert, and then Sunday is my album listening party. I haven’t locked all of the comedians down, but I’ve locked all the artists down.
For a moment, people started losing sight of what R&B was. All the music lately has been so watered down.
Dru Hill is on the bill. Are we getting the full Dru Hill? Are they gonna break up again at SweatFest?
Oh, it’s definitely Sisqo and Dru Hill, all the original members. 112, all the original members.
Is Tyrese gonna show up? Tank and Ginuwine are gonna there. Tyrese is too Hollywood now, I guess. Where’s Tyrese?
Ha, that ain’t got nothing to do with me! But Ginuwine and Tank will definitely be there. I wanted all the original members of Kut Klose with no substitutes. I’ve [recently] been on the road with Dru Hill and 112, so I know it’s all original members.
Who are the surprise guests? Just tell me.
Oh, I’m quite sure that there’s people who are gonna show up just to show up. It’s Montego Bay. There’ll be so many entertainers down there—SWV, Bobby V, Pleasure P—so a few people might just show up on their own.
What happens if I call that 1-866-92-SWEAT number on the Sweat Hotel website? (I was hesitant to call it.)
That goes to my syndicated radio show. That’s the Sweat Hotel. Every night. Call in and you might get picked up. The lines are crazy.
Are people crazy when they call in?
Most definitely. Radio is a beast. People definitely call in when they know that I’m the radio and they have the chance to talk to me personally. I give them advice.
Is SweatFest soldout?
No, people are still buying tickets.
What’s the capacity?
The concert venue holds 6,000 or more people. But people are still buying tickets and packages. We just started announcing it about two or three weeks ago.
You’ve previously worked with most of these acts. Apart from your headliner set, are you going to sing in other singers’ sets?
They might come on my set. I don’t think I’m gonna go on their set.
You should just upstage everyone.
I won’t crash their sets. They can crash my set if they want. I’m accustomed to calling other people onto my stage and letting them crash my sets. That’s what I do. I don’t have a problem with that.
Have you found it easy pulling this together. You have this sort of reputation as a senior R&B diplomat. You’re friends with all of these guys. Is everyone just happy to do whatever you ask?
As soon as I call, because I’m a quote-unquote legend—I say quote-unquote, that’s just what people call me—people normally say, “Most definitely, whatever you need, my man.” People like it when you’re more personable. I don’t like going through artists’ management. If I have a relationship with you, I have a relationship with you. I have a relationship with all these guys. I normally don’t call them up and ask for any favors. But this is my first event, and it was very easy for them to say yes to me.