Imagine sitting at work one night with the Grammy Awards on a TV in the background. You look up in time to see Chris Brown onstage accepting the award for Best R&B Album. Suddenly it dawns on you that you worked on that album, that you’ve just won a Grammy. You look over at your co-worker, who happens to be Usher. “You ready to get another one?” he asks. All that may sound like an in-demand dream, but in 2012 it was a reality for Eric Bellinger.
Fast-forward to 2017, Compton-born Bellinger has begun establishing himself as an artist in his own right with four mixtapes reaching the Billboard R&B Charts. “I wanted to make sure I was really solid in the placements and my songwriting, so I went and did that for a couple years before I focused on my [own] artistry,” says Bellinger. “I realized I gotta stop giving these great songs away, and that I had to keep them for myself.” Bellinger has racked up hits for Usher, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and The Game, just to name a few. “It got to the point where it was an obvious decision—my singles were picking up,” he says, “I was getting asked to go on tour, and was really forced to set it down since my passion has been artistry, to begin with.”
Still just 30 years old, Bellinger is a rare triple threat as a singer, songwriter, and producer. Songwriting is literally in his blood; he’s the grandson of Bobby Day, who wrote, “Little Bitty Pretty One,” a major hit in three different decades. Bellinger’s experience working with the biggest stars in music has added seasoning to his raw talent. “Being in the studio with Usher, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, just watching them were lessons alone. Watching them weed out what a single is versus what an album song is versus teaser songs, lead-off songs for the streets, all of that. I was just in the atmosphere.”
The titles of Bellinger’s latest releases, Eric B for President: Term 1 and Term 2, may riff on the golden age hip-hop classic by Eric B. & Rakim, but their sound is hyper-modern R&B, with tracks like “Malibu Nights.” Bellinger’s smooth vocals are front and center, and his out-of-this-world songwriting skills truly shine through. His confidence in the songs has proved so strong, that Bellinger has issued an acoustic version of Term 1, stripping things down to acoustic guitar and vocals. “They’ve already been asking for Eric B For President: Term 2 acoustic! And I’ve already started on it – acoustic videos for ‘Treat Yourself’ and ‘Make You Mine’ are out, and I will probably end up making videos for the rest. I really like putting a focus on each individual song—I believe in all of them—these can all be hits.”
Having seen the heights of success as a songwriter, Bellinger has his sights set on dominating the pop world. “I think if I can get a number one song on Billboard, as well as a Grammy I would be able to say, ‘I made it.’ I gotta get the number one song in the entire world. Numbers are fact and you can’t take that away from someone.”
Bellinger tells us the most epic place to perform would be at the Staples Center w/ Jay-Z in the crowd. “His shows are perfect to me. The storytelling, the skits without having to run around, the composure, it’s amazing.”
In the meantime, he’s content to let the game come to him. “People have been reaching out to my manager, but I haven’t been taking any meetings—I’m waiting for a clear moment, waiting for THE record, when I get a big hit. I don’t want a meeting where they think they’re doing me a favor. I know I have what it takes to get the song on my own,” he says.
The most challenging part of being a musician for Bellinger comes down to his fans. “Converting my fans that know me as a songwriter to having them look at me as not just one thing – not being boxed into one thing.”
For up and coming musicians, Eric Bellinger has this to say, “Never be afraid of the time it’ll take to accomplish your goals because the time will pass anyway.” Currently, Bellinger is putting together a couple of projects and albums. Nothing officially announced yet, but he may or may not have a full album out in the summer! Stay tuned.