J. Holiday: The Return of the R&B Thug

What defines an R&B thug? Is the answer in his vernacular or his mannerisms with people? Is it his way with women or his dress code? Despite our eagerness to classify today’s modern singer as a thug when we see their tattoos and stocking caps, these singers aren’t as predictable as what you may assume. […]

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What defines an R&B thug? Is the answer in his

vernacular or his mannerisms with people? Is it his way with women or his

dress code? Despite our eagerness to classify today’s modern singer as a thug

when we see their tattoos and stocking caps, these singers aren’t as

predictable as what you may assume.

Frustrated with life, dealing with the death of a loved one

and the rollercoaster ride of love are things that D.C.’s J. Holiday expressed in

his Grammy nominated debut album Back Of My Lac. It just so happens that he expressed his experiences with lyrics in

regards to sipping yack in the back of his Cadillac with the diamond in the

back, peppered with a few references to the herb and expletives to paint us a

picture of his life.

The crooner’s second project,

properly named Round 2, is a sequel to

what his fans enjoyed in Back Of My Lac. By keeping the team he used for his debut, Holiday fans should expect pleasurable content as

well as a few surprises that wouldn’t be expected.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You have the

great tattoos, the braids, stocking cap, the hat and a great persona. Do you

consider yourself an R&B thug?

J. Holiday: No, not

at all. I honestly wear the stocking cap because I’ve been growing my hair

since I was 15 and I’m kind of tired of it, but at this point it’s a part of my

image, so I do with it what I do with it. That’s just me. On the album I’m

dressing up a little more. It’s not because I’m following the trends but you

have to grow somewhere. At that point in my life that’s where I was at like

the jeans and the tennis shoes.

AHHA: What are your

thoughts on artists who change their image to go the route of the R&B

thug image?

J. Holiday: Like I

said: personal responsibility. If you portray that image and then certain thug

things happen to you—people always think its cool when something happens

to them and they get real humble about it. You live by the sword and die by

the sword. You reap what you sow. I try to make sure I do right by everyone

around me including the people that work for me and including the people that

don’t work for me like my family and my fans.

AHHA: Some fans

like that rough appeal, especially from an R&B singer. Do you feel

pressure trying to keep up with what appeals to your fans?

J. Holiday: When

you have artists that come out and some artists come out younger than others,

some come out when they are already grown, but I think your fans grow with you.

I think if anything does change about me, they will accept it. I’m not an

attention freak and I think those people who do those changes are trying to

gain that attention. That’s not even the kind of person that I am. I’m going

to just grow and where that is, that’s where it’s going to be.

AHHA: So you have

no thoughts on the artists that hump the floor, have a great bedroom body and

rip off their shirts.

J. Holiday: That’s

on them and that’s what they do. Some people need that for their show. When I

take off my shirt, I feel comfortable and confident in myself. I feel like I’m

sexy in my own right. [laughs]

AHHA: In regards to

your vocals and not the style, have you ever been told you sound similar to

Trey Songz?

J. Holiday: Definitely.

What’s crazy is before we went on tour I found out that his birthday is the

day after mine, so we’re very similar in a lot of ways.

AHHA: What was that

like being on tour with Trey? Was he what you expected?

J. Holiday: Actually I try not to prejudge people, but sometimes

you see stuff on T.V. and that’s not how that person really is. He was completely

different from what I thought. He was cool, he was chill. For anyone that

might have that bad impression on him, he’s a cool dude. I liked the fact that

we both went on stage and put in 100% every night. My biggest thing is when I

get on stage and the fans came to see a show and they came to hear you sing the

songs that they love. They don’t want to hear you up there playing around and

neither one of us did. We went all the way in every night.

AHHA: Back Of My

Lac has you up for a Grammy nod. Jazmine Sullivan came out this year

and she’s up for five nominations. That’s amazing for brand new artists. It’s

artists like you and Jazmine Sullivan who are putting pressure on the established

acts that got comfortable. How do you feel about the state of R&B that’s

been going on for these past years?

J. Holiday: I’m

just happy that R&B is getting back to R&B. You’ll always have those

consistent artists like Mary J. and Ne-Yo, but in other places it’s gotten a

little shaky. I’ve seen Jazmine Sullivan live and she’s dope. It’s good to see

the young people coming in and showing R&B the right type of love and not

making a mockery of it.

AHHA: What about

all of these artists coming out with dance songs and Super-Manning women on

their backs?

J. Holiday: [laughs]

I try not to even focus on it.

AHHA: But that is

the next generation. Rap, R&B, Urban Pop—whatever it is, that’s the

next wave that’s coming out. What you’re putting out now is what these kids

are using to help form their music.

J. Holiday: I do

try to do my part because if I focus on music that may not be going so well for

music, then that’s when my music will start to fall off. I just try to make

sure that I focus on what I’m doing and I keep people happy with the sounds

they love to hear. We got a lot of kids coming up now and we have a lot of

kids watching us. That’s what I’m focused on. You have to set a good example.

For the younger generation that’s coming out, they have to understand that one

day they’re going to have kids and they don’t want their legacy to be that and

only that.

AHHA: Getting

caught up with personal relationships and children can affect your career. How

do you stay grounded?

J. Holiday: I used

to work a 9-to-5 job before this, so I know how to work hard. We have certain

responsibilities and you got to do what you got to do. At the end of the day I

love singing, but this is my income. This is my job. This is what I’m

supposed to do. I’m supposed to get on stage and make sure that the fans are

satisfied. You can’t get caught up in the hype.

AHHA: Do you feel

at some point before you dropped Back Of My Lac that artists like

Usher fell off?

J. Holiday: Sometimes

as artist we have people who often forget that we’re human. It’s almost like

they believe the fantasy that they see on T.V. or forget that we have a real

life outside of what you see on T.V. Sometimes people just have situations in

their personal life and it can take your focus away. I can’t really speak on

what happened, but you got to be able to focus. Sometimes it’s hard and it

depends on who you have around you. That’s why I make sure my team around me

keeps me happy and not bring me down.

AHHA: “Be With Me”

was out for a while. Why do you think it wasn’t as big of a song as “Bed” or


J. Holiday: At the

time that wasn’t about what people liked. A lot of people liked that song too.

I think at the time the situation I was in there were a lot of things going on

internally within the label with people getting shifted around, so people

couldn’t focus on getting the music out there. That’s really all that was. I

think everything happened the way it was supposed to. Nothing is a mistake.

AHHA: Let’s talk

about your new album Round 2. Your new single “It’s Yours” is out

now. Where were you trying to go when you did this song?

J. Holiday: People

want to be loved these days. I think the whole player phase is getting played

out. It’s just showing people you can be in love, have fun and live a cool

life. Everyone thinks the player life is cool and I love living a rock star

life but that doesn’t mean I can’t find someone to love as well.

AHHA: Do you feel

that people want love because they are getting older?

J. Holiday: You

have to. As a youngster you want to run around, but as you get

older—especially now that I have a daughter—I can’t just have any

type of female around her. If I do it would have to be somebody serious.

AHHA: You never

really did a club record. Does Round 2 have club records on it?

J. Holiday: There’s

definitely some tempo on there. There’s really no such thing as a club record.

Depending on the tempo, my songs aren’t necessarily “Jump around! Jump

around!” but I do have records on this album that have more tempo that could be

played in the club, but that aren’t necessarily club records.

AHHA: With Round

2 are you going to do collaborations?

J. Holiday: Right

now the only collaboration that I have is a song that I did with Rick Ross

called “Wrong Lover.” I got a song on the album called “Homeless.” It’s not

finished yet but we’re trying to get Mos Def on the joint right now.

AHHA: Did you make

an R&B version of Young Jeezy’s Recession?

J. Holiday: Something

like that. It’s really more focused on homeless people, but it’s just showing

awareness for the people who have nowhere to sleep.

AHHA: Your last

album you did some cursing in there, are you doing more cursing in Round 2?

J. Holiday: No, I

toned it down a little bit.

AHHA: Your mother’s

a preacher so I was wondering about that.

J. Holiday: Me and

her even had a talk about that. She was just like there are some things that

you just need to get off your chest. It’s just not about cursing like a sailor

all day, that’s how I felt in those songs. I knew that she would understand



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