Raphael Saadiq opens up about grief, loss and his most personal project yet

Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and record producer, Raphael Saadiq says his new music may be his most honest ever.

"I went down a rabbit hole and said,'It's time for me to talk about it,'" Saadiq told CBS News' Anthony Mason. "I'm very surprised at what came out. Yeah."

As a solo artist and before that as a member of the R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! – who scored a string of hits in the late 80s and 90s – Saadiq became known as a musician who could swing easily between styles.

But there was one subject he stayed away from in his music: His family and a series of tragedies he's endured. The 53-year-old singer has named his new record "Jimmy Lee" after his older brother who died of a heroin overdose.

Saturday Sessions: Raphael Saadiq performs "This World Is Drunk"

"He was an addict, you know. People look down on addicts. And he was sort of the black sheep of the family. He was looked at like nothing to a lot of people," Saadiq said. "Jimmy was everything to me. I would always say on my shows how he would drop off a puppy, leave it in the backyard for me. You know, just always doing something real nice."

Jimmy Lee was just one of four siblings Saadiq has lost. His brother, Desmond, also an addict, died by suicide.

"My other brother, lvy, was murdered by my sister's boyfriend when I was 7, and then my sister was in a car accident … and I always just kept progressing and moving forward, you know," he said. "I have them tattooed on my arm, all four of them. Been on my arm for over 20 years."

He admits grief made him "a little hard."

"It made me not respond to simple things that people respond to and be like, 'what's your deal?' you know like, 'really, are you complaining about that? Steinway is therapy for me, big huge black Steinway piano is, I felt like that's all the therapy I need," he said. 

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The album, he says, is for anyone who's had a Jimmy Lee in their life. "I feel like I've freed the energy, the spirit. I guess that's one of the biggest things, I'm watching my mother through this process."

The album artwork for "Jimmy Lee" includes his mother, and late brothers and sister.

"I've always said somehow I need to connect the dots. And I feel like I'm finally connecting the dots for myself, and also for people who have been listening to me for all these years."