Are You Ready to Learn About Brian McKnight?

Back with a new album after causing a stir in 2012, the crooner shows us how his mind works.

Brian McKnight (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Brian McKnight (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

By that, McKnight meant he makes most of his income touring, and his albums are better described these days as promotional material to encourage fans to purchase concert tickets. But that retort is reflective of McKnight’s personality, a little snarky and a lot sarcastic — maybe too much for his own good.

This is perhaps how he ended up creating “If You’re Ready to Learn” as a parody without foreseeing how the provocative song would become an Internet lightning rod. The music veteran even got into a Twitter spat with Chris Brown in defense of his track, tweeting, “Since everyone’s so opinionated I’m taking suggestions on what I should do next, I’m thinking rent a lambo and beat the s–t outta my girl … That’s acceptable these days.”

So what does he have to say about dipping into social media now?

“Everybody was jumping on me, and I was making the point that there were a lot worse things going on in the world than a song about p–sy,” he explained. “Maybe I did single out certain individuals, and that may not have been the thing to do, but why is that behavior actually applauded? I meant what I said, and I have no ill [will] towards anyone … As a father with two young daughters, I can’t applaud everyone’s behavior all the time.”

Ultimately, fans of McKnight’s angelic voice will likely enjoy More Than Words, but he might gain a whole new group of followers if, in the spirit of his recent candidness, he reignites his former radio show and just talks. Still another idea would be to lend his songwriting skills to up-and-coming black singers like Luke James or Bridget Kelly — but McKnight isn’t convinced.

“Nobody wants to sing the music I create; they want to do dance or hip-hop. That’s what sells so many records now,” he said, before dipping into more of that McKnight sarcasm. “It’s just so great that the music business is in such great hands, and people still sell as many records as they did in the ’90s.”

Hillary Crosley is the New York bureau chief at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.