Timbaland and the
Neptunes are so dominant as producers, they can
sometimes upstage the artist they're working with ... unless
that artist is Madonna.
On her new album,
Hard Candy, Madonna made sure that she
wasn't a guest star on her own album.
''I thought of it
as a true and equal collaboration. ... I like to think
that when you listen to the record, you don't just go, 'Oh,
that is a Timbaland record,' or 'That's Pharrell [of
the Neptunes].' That you hear it and you go, 'There is
something new and different about it.' ''
new and different is the approach that's kept Madonna
on top for most of her 25-year recording career -- and made
her a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this
pop queen is once again dominating music airwaves, but
she's also making her mark far away from the celebrity
spotlight in Malawi. The impoverished African nation,
where she found David, the young child she is in the
process of adopting, is the subject of her new
documentary, I Am Because We Are, and her
Madonna sat down
with the Associated Press recently and chatted about her
new musical path, life in Malawi, and raising kids in the
eye of the paparazzi, among other things.
AP: You recently signed a deal with Live
Nation, and Hard Candy is your last on Warner
Bros. Records. What do you hope to accomplish with the deal?
Madonna: Number one, coming up with new
interesting ways of releasing music. Finding new ways to get
music to people, that is one thing. Two is being an
equal partner on my records which I have never been
before. I have always been signed to a label and I get
a percentage of what I earn, and now it is 50/50, which is
great, and three is all the great shows I plan on
AP: Would you ever do a pay-for-play with your
music similar to Radiohead?
Madonna: No ... I don't know. I am not sure I
like the idea of saying pay whatever you want for it. I
think it is good to be specific. ... Put a value on
AP: Your film, I Am Because We Are, is
about Malawi, a country that has been ravished by AIDS
and poverty. Is it difficult to find hope in such depressing
Madonna: I did find hope there because in spite
of all of the hardships that people have to endure there, as
I say in the film, I saw so much happiness there. I
saw that people with so little had so much
appreciation for life and so much joy. It gave me a
real sense of appreciation for what I have, and it made me
-- it put things in perspective for me. ... We have so
much, and we can often get caught up in our little
stupid problems. The kids have nothing to play with.
They get plastic bags and bunch them together in what looks
like a ball with twine, and that is their soccer ball.
They are happy. It is fine. You get a real sense of
AP: Do you think the documentary will help to
silence some of your critics?
Madonna: It helps explain a lot of the story
and the mystery to people. People will have a better
perspective. It is always good to know the whole story
before you jump to conclusions. The movie isn't just
about the adoption, but I hope it will fill in some
blanks for people.
AP: What is the hardest thing you had to endure
while making this documentary?
Madonna: I think the hardest thing is watching
parents lose their children. I think that is a pain that is
unendurable, to bury your children. It is supposed to
be the other way around.
AP: Would you adopt again from Malawi?
Madonna: I would like to. They are still trying
to finesse the laws and make it so it is not such a long
waiting period, which would be good. I would prefer
AP: How are you going to balance your projects
in Malawi with promoting this album?
Madonna: Not that I have very much free time,
but I have a lot of ongoing projects in Malawi. I am
building a girls' school and orphan care center. I am
refurbishing an orphanage. I have lots of kids to look
after on scholarship funds, so I have relationships
with people and I want to go back and check in on everybody.
AP: How do you deal with the paparazzi always
taking pictures of your children?
Madonna: I don't like it when they get in their
face. It is scary and frightening especially if you are not
used to it and you are a kid. I think Lola is a little
bit more familiar with it now. My son [Rocco] is still
seriously irritated by it.
AP: You, Prince, and Michael Jackson turn 50
this year. Will you be throwing a big joint party?
Madonna: If there is, I am not throwing it. I
am tired of throwing parties!
AP: Maybe you all could do a Rolling Stone
Madonna: Really? [Smiles] I don't know. Ask
them. I am a little bit tired of being the one who
always has to ask everything. You are going to have to
go to them. (AP)