Jaheim – A Real Feeling of RnB (RnB Mag #12 Cover Story)

It’s been a minute since we got something new from legendary Jaheim, but the wait is over with the release of his single, “Back in My Arms”, and soon to be release of his new album Struggle Love. Jaheim took some time out to discuss the new album, starting over, R&B music and the industry today…

I love it that you got your fans involved with the online video you made to accompany “Back in My Arms”, how was that experience?
Yes, getting the fans involved by making them a part of the project was great. I’m still planning to go back and make a regular video too. Later on. But the one you are referring to will still be around for people to go back and watch.

“Back in My Arms” is getting a lot of positive attention. Can you tell me a little bit about what to expect from the rest of the upcoming album?
Well, the album is just amazing. I have been working on it, mixing and mastering on it. It will be out soon, I am still putting the icing on the cake. It’s going to be one of those types of albums that fit in any anytime of the year, for like any occasion. In front of the fireplace, at cookouts, at a party, private party, you know. It will play well wherever.


Is there any certain song on the new album that really speaks to you?
Well, the title of the album is called Struggle Love. We have a song on the album “Struggle Love”, it is well, amazing. It’s basically talking about love as a whole, when it’s old and how we started out. How we started with nothing, you know, together we got four chicken wings and rice, and now we got more than we ever needed, but that’s part of that struggle. The richer we get we still miss that struggle love.

What is the message behind the first single, “Back in My Arms?”
The message behind it for me is–it’s a lot of inspiration. Something different people can relate to different ways. People that’s in the army and missing their family. People that’s incarcerated and missing their family. People you may have lost. Loved ones that are maybe in a crisis. Cancer. Somebody dealing with some news. That is the thing, about being back in that person’s arms.

This album kind of seems like a whole new beginning for you. Does it feel different this time around?

This album truly is the new beginning for me. A new kind of love. Struggle Love, not Ghetto Love. It’s the same, but there’s nothing broken, so we’re not trying to fix anything. The songs is the same type sequence, storytelling album. You know, you can live through each experience.


When is the album going to come out?

It is in the last process of trying to complete the album. It is pretty much done. There are a few things we still have to tighten up. We gotta lay some more vocal parts. It’s like in its last hour. The baby’s bout to be delivered in 12 hours (laughs). I have worn out my entire band and keeping them at my house. Every 2 or 3 hours somebody else is recording something. We have been up literally been up for about 72 hours. I literally slept about 3 hours today! No sleep!

With this being somewhat of a new start for you is there anything you plan to do differently this time around? Like I don’t know, like as far as shows or the way you present your album?

I’m hoping for the success of this album so I can pretty much shape up all that’s wrong and needs to be corrected. That wasn’t my idea, but because I had a setback in my business, not a major one, but it took me a while to bounce back and put everything into perspective.

I know that when you were younger you struggled with losing family members at a young age, and yet you still continued to keep on with your dreams, then later, you made some bad choices, I would say, but you didn’t let that hold you back you either. What advice would you give a young person who maybe has big dreams, but has also had a rough start?

We wasn’t made to be afraid. We wasn’t made to get discouraged. We were made to go after and follow our dreams. And do it like no other. Do it right the first time and the last time. Someone tell you that you can’t do it, just don’t believe them. Put your head blockers on and when you get home, the minute you get home, start studying.  And don’t stop studying, ever. You only get to the next level by studying.  You gotta learn.  If you just look at it, you’re not going to learn nothing. Like cooking, you gotta add a little salt, a little pepper, a little water, a little oil, see how it works together, watch the chemistry of it.  The more you do it, the better you will get at it. Start messing around and trying different flavors.  And listen to people that have their head on their shoulders. You’ll know who, you can see who–you’ll see how great their life is, how things are working out for them.  You gotta listen to those kind of people. Also, don’t ever be manipulated by no one just cause they’re a little stronger than you. Believe in yourself.  And dreams come true. I have lived and learned.  I never thought I would be here today, but I’m here.

What has been a highlight or something good that has happened while creating this album?

One of the greatest things about this album is that I’m working with Nat Adderley Jr., you know of my mentors is, I loved listening to Luther Vandross, studying him. So to me, being in the comfort zone of just the thought of Nat Adderly Jr. coming into my house and getting on the keyboard is…. I’m actually recording a lot of the stuff too, documenting it—it’s really, really, really amazing, man! To have your dream come true.  Even though people say Jaheim, I think you deserve so much more. When people do stuff like that it kind of makes you feel a little appreciative.  You have to be more mindful after 15 years…you think man, I’ve been doing this for 15 plus! There are others that have been around longer than me. Usher. Usher been around forever, and he’s still doing great. I would love to see him continue to do that. Cause that’s someone who helped me, showed me what was available when I get through that door. I like the artist R Kelly.  All of them! To me it’s not about being number one, and it’s not about trying to compete. It’s about R&B, it is about the state of our music.

Are there any artist did you would like to work with or collaborate on something with?

Man, I would love to have the opportunity to work with Usher, Tyrese, I would love to work with all of them. Every artist that’s mainstream or not getting the proper recognition they deserve, I would love to be a part of helping them. I would love to be apart to help myself too. That’s what it’s all about. But you got too much competition going on. Everybody’s in the mind frame of being the best, not wanting to come together.

Nowadays if you look up a musician online you immediately get links to their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites. I know you got into the music scene before all this, and now you’re back.  Does it feel different with all the social media, and how?

It’s a whole new way to reach out to people. It’s a whole new way of doing business. I kind of like it. I think social media is a great opportunity for us artists and entertainers. So we can promote ourselves. We use that as a marketing tool. I didn’t understand that at first, but I clearly get it now. The thing about most of it is that it makes you work hard. Really hard. Especially as an artist. Let’s say for example, you’re looking at this other artist, like okay, they got a million followers, when you look at me I only got 350,000, and I’m like wow! But still selling just about the same amount of records he is!  You can’t get caught up in the trying to be the one with all the followers. But if it happens it happens.  Personally,  I don’t get how you can have like 40 million people following you, but then you ain’t sold no records, it don’t make no sense. I don’t want to be the one to expose it, but it is what it is.

What do you think it is that sets you apart from other R&B artists that are out there now? What do you think about where R&B is today?

My sound is more authentic. Push record and let’s make it happen! I don’t want to kiss my own rib. but this album is like the epitome of Jaheim. I built it from the roots. So I dug it from root. So I gave you something new, off an experience that you already loved. It is pretty much the same cake, but just a different flavor to it. Just like another chapter in your life. Really excited. Hopefully they will gravitate to it.  It’s all R&B songs and R&B is definitely coming back.  Back then, everybody loved that one sound, that one flavor.  A lot of people came to Kay Gee for that one sound. And Luther was there too. And there was a lot of others with Kay Gee. They helped me with my career. 15 years.  Then all the major and secondary artist left. So music, is in fact, something that trends, trends off other music.  And I’m proud to say that we were the first of that 2000 era to do that.  And now, look at music now and see where it’s going…it’s amazing where it went, and where it has to go now. Music is deteriorating kind of, we don’t see it, but it is, I want to say that somebody else is really kind of controlling it, and that’s just what that is, but I would love to come in on the R & B side and shake it all up. I’m not just another singer. I been here a long time. I have the background and the history, so this is not a mistake. To get  Nat Adderly Jr. on your record is just a hard thing to do. At first we were like, “what are you going to do? What are you going to play?” He came in and he was like, “man I like this, oh I love this… “We started playing and he started adding all these concepts and I was like man! That’s the flip side to it. Man, ya’ll in for some treats.

For More on Jaheim – Click Here

Interviewed for RnB Magazine by Stephanie Hodgson


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