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Listen as Dyana & Derrick discuss the upcoming episode of Verses & Flow with Carl Thomas and Malcolm London

Carl Thomas is the epitome of New York 70s and 80s soul: breezy and funky; the absolute perfect storm of class, charisma and cool. He’s returned with a new respect for the music and his craft. “I know now that I was absolutely built for this.”

Once a protege of music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs (who signed Thomas after hearing him sing at an open mic night in New York in the mid – 90s), he was the first heartthrob R&B songster on Bad Boy Entertainment. Thomas is best known for his #1 R&B smash “I Wish” from the album So Emotional, which debuted in the Top 20 on Billboard and was a critical and commercial success, selling nearly 2 million copies.

With a solid debut, Carl Thomas instantly transformed from a Chicago native son singing for his supper into voice of masculine romance for an entire generation. However, it was his indefatigable passion and not industry position or fanfare that beckoned him back to the studio for his new album, Conquer.

Conquer, his first album in 4 years, is bursting with lush orchestrations and entrancing chords. The core of Conquer is comparable to Coldplay’s soulful sparseness. It’s the spirited pop of Maroon Five on a hot Harlem night. Its Sting meets Lamont Dozier. Not wishing to travel the same, traditional R&B course, Thomas has carved his own melodious niche. “As a songwriter, I hear songs and say, ‘Man, I wish I had written that record.’ There are types of records that have eluded me most of my career. Those are the records that I managed to find for Conquer.”

Carl Thomas experienced the type of success with his first song that most artists never touch during their entire careers. “I Wish”, with its universal theme lost love, is now a part of a songwriting canon. He is even more excited about the potential of his newest offerings. While he wants to make timeless and genre-pushing music, his mission this time is even grander in scope. “I am supposed to help and inspire someone coming after me. The word “conquer” is an admittance that you’ve won. With the battles in my life over the past several years, I definitely consider myself victorious.”

 Malcolm London is a young poet, performer and educator who recently shared stages with Matt Damon and Lupe Fiasco in The People Speak, Live! Winner of Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival 2011 taking first place as individual performer and with his team, Malcolm has performed on stages at the Chicago Jazz Festival, The Vic Theater, The Metro, The Chicago Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater, Victory Gardens Theater and in venues across the country. He is host of the largest weekly youth open mic in Chicago, YouMedia Lyricist Loft and is a member of UCAN’s National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. Malcolm is an experienced teaching artist at Young Chicago and anticipates his first published chapbook from New School in Fall 2012.

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