Since the early 2000’s, Dustin Michael served as the frontman of R&B group B5. The group made their mainstream debut in 2005 with their debut single “All I Do” from their self-titled album. The album was released via P. Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment and peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
In 2007, B5 returned with their sophomore LP Don’t Talk, Just Listen, which spawned singles “Hydrolics” featuring Bow Wow and “In My Bedroom.” The album didn’t get the same reaction as their debut album due to lack of promotion. It peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard 200.
Not too long after, the group rebranded themselves as Audio and pursued a different sound. Unfortunately, the quintet didn’t see much success and took a hiatus. They reemerged in 2013 as B5 with their new record label Motown Records and comeback single “Say Yes.” The Harmony Samuels produced tune had was well-received by fans and critics with over five million streams on YouTube. Although their comeback seemed promising, due to internal conflicts with management, they separated and have not released music ever since.
While Dustin cherishes every moment as lead singer of B5, the Florida native is now focused on pursuing his solo career. Last month, he dropped his debut EP, Different. The project introduces music lovers to his fresh and mature sound.
In an exclusive interview with Rated R&B, Dustin dishes on life after B5, his Different EP, fatherhood and more.
Check out our interview with Dustin Michael below.
RATED R&B: What’s the status of B5?
DUSTIN: We’re disbanded now, which is something I never thought would happen like in a million years. When it actually happened, it was kind of a shock to me and a couple of my brothers. It was due to poor management.
RATED R&B: Considering everything you guys went through with management, what has been your biggest takeaway?
DUSTIN: You’ve got to be careful who you trust. Be careful of who you have in your circle. Be willing to learn from other people. Keep good people around you and keep your circle small. Keep your contacts. I think artists should really take that role on more themselves versus putting all their trust into a manager. For instance, if a situation goes bad between you and a manager and your manager has all your contacts and you’re still trying to move forward, how are you going to move forward?
RATED R&B: Are you signed or are you independent?
DUSTIN: I’m independent now. I have my own entertainment company Dustin Michael ENT. It’s weird. I’m trying to get a feel for everything. I’ve been signed to a label since I was ten years old, so it’s all new to me. I’m just trying to figure out all the stuff by myself. I don’t have a manager or anything yet — which I don’t really want one right now. I’m being real picky with that if you feel me [laughs].
RATED R&B: Right. Plus, this is your time to get that hands on experience you were referring to earlier.
DUSTIN: Yes. I’ve learned so much. It’s a cool experience. I’m not mad at it at all. I’m just taking what I’m learning and I’m applying it. Maybe down the road, I may sign with a label again or get a manager. I’m putting a team together regardless but I’m just being real careful with my moves. When I move, I want to move right. I want everything in place and just have a great foundation. I gotta have structure this time around. I need to know what’s going on at all times. It’s a learning experience. I like the fact that I get to basically release music when I want to. I can drop a video when I want to. I don’t have to wait for this or wait for that. I love that.
RATED R&B: You released “Pay It Forward” as the lead single from your EP Different. Tell us about it.
DUSTIN: It’s about a relationship with a girl. It’s basically saying I’m working hard to better my career so sometimes the girl isn’t getting all my attention “bare with me. I got you. We gonna make it but if you ain’t rocking with me then I just pay my love forward.” It’s a dope song. I love where we were going with it. I wanted to just give something to the fans and let them know that I’m still continuing my career whether the group is together or not. It wasn’t my decision. It kind of just happened. It forced me to be a solo artist. I loved being in the group with my brothers and what we were doing. I felt we were a really, really great unit. When things happened, it kind of forced me to take my own path and that’s what I did. “Pay It Forward” is actually the most R&B song that I have in my catalogue right now.
RATED R&B: We heard you dedicated your “Pay It Forward” video to the victims of the Paris bombing.
DUSTIN: Yeah. I’m in Paris now, so I was here when the attacks happened. I was actually right down the street from it. I could hear the sirens and the police and everything like that. I was grabbing some things from the store. I could hear all the things that was going. I ran into the house. I thought it was just something minor but when I got back, they started talking about it on the news. That’s when I found out the whole story. I was in the editing stages of my video so I just decided I wanted to dedicate the video to all the victims in Paris that went through that tragedy. I wanted to pay homage to them definitely.
RATED R&B: Your new EP, Different, is out now. Tell us about the material you chose to sing about and what do you want listeners to take from your EP.
DUSTIN: I want them to hear the growth of me as a solo artist — and my voice. When I was in B5, we all had to kind of stay in this certain lane. Even though our music was good, I felt like our fans were growing up and I kind of wanted to give them some more mature music. A couple of other guys in the group wanted to stay a little more pop and safe with the records. I felt like it was time for us to really just go edgy. I wanted to go real edgy.
RATED R&B: A lot of people may not know this but you are now a father now. How has that been for you?
DUSTIN: I have a two-year-old son. His name is Jaden. It’s dope. I love it. It’s definitely a kind of change. I wouldn’t change it for nothing. I love my fam with all my heart. That’s me right there. When I look at him, that’s my mini me [laughs].
RATED R&B: Has he had any Influence on your music?
DUSTIN: To be honest, [fatherhood] really hasn’t changed my perception of where I want to go with my music. But with him, I just have more time to spend with him. I’m just cherishing the time that I’m able to spend with him now.
Stream Dustin’s Michael’s Different EP below.
Connect with Dustin Michael on Twitter/IG: @DustinMichael00