“As an artist, if you don’t change with the music, then you’ll get left behind.” —Bobby V

Bobby Valentino rose to prominence in 2005 with his hit single “Slow Down,” produced by Tim & Bob. As the R&B face of Ludacris’ Disturbing The Peace label, he shot to the top of Billboard charts; he went on to release six studio albums, work with every superstar in the game, dabble in reality TV, and—most recently—he appeared in the BET TV movie “Hollywood Hearts.” The fact that he even needs to justify to anyone that he hasn’t fallen off is, no pun intended, ludicrous.

The bigger picture, though, is the overall shift in R&B music. The year he rose to prominence is important, as it’s the same year that T-Pain dropped “I’m Sprung,” officially making auto-tune the new thing. It wasn’t until Kanye picked it up for the entirety of his 808 project that rappers truly grasped that with the use of autotune, and no longer needed to seek out singers. With rappers beginning to blur the lines more and more, R&B has effectively, as Bobby describes, “turned rap.” As he explains, “R&B has taken a backseat to rap and rappers. I think R&B singers have to perform and make our music and fit in with the rap; at one time rappers needed us for the hook but with autotune and everybody singing now, they don’t need us like that no more. I think that that’s one of the reasons why R&B is in the position that it is in right now.”

He’s quick, though, to acknowledge that this is nothing new. “the game always changes. It always has, from the disco years to now. It always changes and evolves. I think that as an artist, if you don’t change with the music, then you’ll get left behind.”

Bobby has been anything but stagnant, especially with his foray into film. “Hollywood Hearts was my introduction to acting and I’m working a new film right now. We’re in the preliminary stage of the new film. I’m excited. I’m taking a lot of acting classes. So that’s where I’m at right now on the acting side.” He’s quick to shrug off the question whether reality TV, which has become a mainstay for many peers who came up in his time bubble. “I’ve dabbled and dabbled in it, but I haven’t really—I don’t want to be a character unless it’s a show dealing with me and my life. I don’t want to subjected to somebody making me look like a fool.”

The most exciting news for longtime fans, though, is that he’s focusing on not just music, but R&B music—in an iteration he still holds dear. “I plan to just periodically just drop one or two songs a month throughout the year. And at the end of the year, pick the best song to go on the project that I put out.”

You can hear his focus on the latest single, “U Down?,” which has been getting a lot of buzz online. “This song right here, I just happened to put it out, and it’s doing well,” Bobby says cheerfully. “It’s kinda exciting for me. I’m glad that people are feeling it. I plan to take that rapper mentality and put out a lot of songs so people can see that I’m making hot records.”

15+ years later, Bobby credits his adaptability and tenacity for his ultimate success thus far. “You have to continue to learn; you have to able to take the good and the bad. It’s a rollercoaster, and there’s a lot of ups and downs. If you keep a level head and keep the people around you always, you can succeed.”

Don’t sleep on Bobby, because he’s putting the genre on his back; “I’m trying to bring R&B back. At one point I had given up on it. But know what, now I’ve just got a newfound respect for it, and now I’m back on it.”