Shawn Stockman Says It's the 'Biggest Compliment' When Fans Tell Him They Were Conceived to Boyz II Men Songs (Exclusive)

In a wide-ranging interview, the vocalist details his new solo journey and reflects on 30 years of his 1994 groundbreaking album, 'II'

<p>Gilmar Smith</p> Shawn Stockman poses for a photo in promotion of his project, Shawn Stockman & the Brown Noize Experience

Gilmar Smith

Shawn Stockman poses for a photo in promotion of his project, Shawn Stockman & the Brown Noize Experience

When you’ve recorded some of the most successful — and sensual — ballads of all time, you don't have much of a say over how those songs are... enjoyed.

Yes, Shawn Stockman has heard numerous personal anecdotes from Boyz II Men fans over the years. "Quite a few” of them have even approached him to tell him they’ve been conceived — or did the conceiving — to the band’s biggest hits. "I'll Make Love to You," included.

“I guess it's this ongoing thing when it comes to Boyz II Men music that a lot of women got pregnant from playing our songs,” Stockman, 52, laughs.

“Hey man, that's the biggest compliment that you can give us. Music is their tool. It’s like a hammer, or a screwdriver, or something like that,” he adds. “And if you can't use the tool, then it's useless. So we tried our best to apply tools for people to actually use the tools. Thank God that the tools work, and still do to this day.”

Decades into his tenure in Boyz II Men, and nearly 30 years after the release of their commercially triumphant sophomore album II, Stockman has shifted his own tools — specifically his favorite Gibson 335 guitar and a few of the songs that raised him — to focus on his solo side project, Shawn Stockman and the Brown Noize Experience.

Related: Boyz II Men's Wanya Morris Recalls the 'Best Advice' Group Ever Got - and It Came from Michael Jackson (Exclusive)

<p>Travis Ellison</p> Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men and the Brown Noize Experience performs on stage with a guitar in hand.

Travis Ellison

Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men and the Brown Noize Experience performs on stage with a guitar in hand.

The project, which Stockman has fronted for a few years when Boyz II Men aren’t on the road, is his way of telling his story beyond the Grammy-winning vocal trio. During his live shows in the Los Angeles area — including one coming up on May 8 at The Whisky — he fronts a setlist consisting largely of the hits he grew up on, including some from names like Terrence Trent D'arby, the Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Jimi Hendrix and Simply Red.

Now 52 years old, Stockman has been playing guitar for nearly a fifth of his life after starting in 2014. Fans may have seen Stockman shredding on stage, or heard the instrument's inclusion in some later Boyz II Men records, but with Brown Noize, those sticky harmonies that helped define a whole era of R&B and pop are no longer the main draw.

“This is just me being an artistic individual that just wants to just try other things and tap into what I like, and the type of music I like to sing, and things of that nature without necessarily having to bounce it off at anybody,” Stockman says. “Whether it succeeds or whether it fails, I can at least sleep at night and know that it's something that I did and that I did it my way. And that’s the cool part about it.”

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer​​, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

While his three kids may not be too impressed with his latest creative leap (“They don’t care,” he jokes), Stockman hopes the latest extension of the Boyz II Men world resonates with fans who have a “f--- it” mentality just like him.

“In any relationship, sometimes you get lost in being in a relationship, and being in a group is being in a relationship,” Stockman says. “So it's good to individualize a little bit and pursue things of your own where it involves nothing or nobody else, and you learn so much more from it, and you bring more to the relationship because of it.”

“This is what I'm on right now, and it's been scary, but it's also been exciting, and it's also been educational. This is something that I'll probably want to do for the rest of my life.”

Related: Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman Reveals the Group's 'Pretty Corny' Original Name: It Was 'So Gross'

<p>DAN GROSHONG/AFP via Getty</p> Boyz II Men pose with their awards at the 37th Annual Grammys in Los Angeles in March 1995


Boyz II Men pose with their awards at the 37th Annual Grammys in Los Angeles in March 1995

Most of Stockman’s life has been spent with his voice as an important texture in the Boyz II Men sound, which in August 1994, led to the multi-platinum, record-breaking album II — the inaugural winner of the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in 1995.

Marking the album’s 30th anniversary in August as he celebrates his latest explorative chapter of solo material, Stockman says the milestone is really a reminder of not only the changing music industry, but also “how fast time flies" and the fragility of life (considering all the loved ones he’s lost over the decades).

But II also deserves to be celebrated, and so do those record-breaking singles like “I’ll Make Love to You” and “End of the Road,” which together spent a combined 27 weeks at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

“You have the world's attention, you have their ear, and people are waiting to hear what you're going to do next,” Stockman says of the period of time between the album's first two singles. “And with that alone, just with that anticipation from the public and them being so into you that you know, ‘OK, yeah, this will do.’"

Before releasing “I’ll Make Love to You” as a single in July 1994, Stockman and the group were hesitant to make it the follow-up, he says. They felt there was “more to us than the 6/8 slow jam," he now explains.

“We understood that to be artists, you have to show range. You have to show different faces in order for people to stay interested. If you keep giving them the same thing, then after a while you'll get played out,” he says. “We didn't want to be those guys that do that one thing, be known for that one thing.”

Full of far more than the chart-topping ballads, Boyz II Men’s II also featured a fan-favorite cover of “Yesterday” by The Beatles, which Stockman now shares caught the eye of Paul McCartney himself.

“We did get a letter from him. He said he and his late wife, Linda, were just coming from dinner. I can hear him saying, "We're going to dinner. And we hopped in the car, and we turned on the radio, and we heard your beautiful rendition. We just had to say it was one of the most beautiful renditions of a song that we have ever written, and we'd like to thank you,’” Stockman remembers of McCartney’s words.

And it wasn’t just McCartney who was a fan of the record. Per the RIAA, II sold 12 million copies between 1994 and 1996. Stockman even has those matching Boyz II Men fits in storage, as well as a scrapbook featuring photos of the group with fellow legends Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, to show for just how fast things were moving at the time.

The music also inspired a few superstars who were coming up in the mid-'90s — specifically, JAY-Z. In 2001, when the Brooklyn great released his album The Blueprint and dissed Nas and Prodigy on track “Takeover,” he even made reference to the Boyz (“You bringin' them Boyz II Men, how them boys gon' win?”), something that Stockman hasn't forgotten.

“I do remember when that dropped, because that was during the whole JAY-Z and Nas war, so, yeah, that was pretty slick,” he recalls. “And I want to say, I thanked Jay for that. At one point I was like, ‘Yo, that was dope. Appreciate it.’”

“It's nice to be acknowledged by other artists that you grow up listening to their music, or rather you come out at the same time and you both acknowledge each other."

Of course, Stockman is still being acknowledged by fans across the globe, and again in Las Vegas, after Boyz II Men announced they’ll be returning to the city for a four-show performance at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in August. And now, some of those fans are even catching his solo sets as Shawn Stockman and the Brown Noize Experience — something he doesn’t take lightly.

“That's why I called it an experience, because it's more than music. It's me singing covers for the most part, but that's not why I want people to be here, because it's no mystery about me being able to sing. For 30 years. People have heard me sing, so that's not really the hook,” he says.

“I think people want to know why. And I think that when people see the smile on my face and how much fun I'm having, [it’ll answer] that question. I hope this gives them the attitude of maybe pursuing something that they've always wanted to pursue, too."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.