Jaheim: Man Of the Hour

It seems that after a period where R&B was muddled with releases sounding more like Hip-Hop albums, true R&B is back in full effect. There is a laundry list of R&B releases that are or have been highly anticipated for ’07 and ’08. Pretty close to the top of that list is the next studio […]

It seems that after a period where R&B was muddled with releases sounding more like Hip-Hop albums, true R&B is back in full effect. There is a laundry list of R&B releases that are or have been highly anticipated for ’07 and ’08. Pretty close to the top of that list is the next studio release from Jaheim.Part of Jaheim’s allure was that he had a voice that reminded many of the soul in years past, yet he had a swagger which could rival that of many rappers. We first crossed paths with this New Jersey songbird in 2000 when he burst onto the scene with his urban classic Ghetto Love. This album spawned singles which were R&B Gold such as “Anything” and “Just in Case.” He returned two years later and offered us more hit singles including the urban anthem “Put That Woman First.”As talented as Jaheim might be, his path in this industry hasn’t been absent of drama or controversy. After his sexuality was called into question during an interview at New York’s Hot 97 and the altercation that followed, the rumor mill was buzzing. Then 2006 saw the release of an album that was not quite as successful as its predecessors  [Ghetto Classics]. What came next was a record label shake-up that saw Jaheim move from Warner Bros. to its subsidiary, Atlantic Records, amidst rumors of his displeasure with the handling of his project by Warner Bros.  Yes, there are many reasons that Jaheim’s next release The Makings of a Man is highly anticipated. It could not have come at a better time. AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Hey what’s going on man?Jaheim: I’m pretty good. What’s going on with you?AHHA: I’m good. Thanks for asking. I guess to most people who are fans of yours it would appear that you have been quiet for a bit. Is there any reason for the silence between your last project and this one.Jaheim: I don’t really think I’ve been quiet. I just think there comes a time in every person’s life when you have to make time for yourself. If you just keep moving without doing that, you don’t know where you might end up. If you don’t take breaks you get frustrated.AHHA: Ok. Obviously we have watched you grow from your first album to now your fourth. How do you think Jaheim is different as a person and as an artist now in comparison to when we were first introduced to you?Jaheim: When I first came out, I was a child. I’m a grown ass man now. My way of thinking is a lot different. My approach to music is pretty much the same. But you know, I stepped up. It’s Jaheim the superstar now.AHHA: Outside of the music how do you feel you have changed as a person?Jaheim: Again, I’m 30 years old, and there comes a time in your life when you have to make physical changes and mentally change. You got some guys that want to be boys for the rest of their lives.AHHA: I’m sure you’ve heard different people talk about the state of R&B music right now. Many people think true R&B is dead. What do you think about that?Jaheim: I think that is the reason that God created people like me, to bring back the life of R&B. Because it is kind of dead. It is a good direction that music is headed in, but it isn’t about talent anymore. So anybody can make a record now.AHHA: Do you think there is a particular reason why things have changed?Jaheim: Nothing lasts forever. We’re not going to be here forever. AHHA: You definitely have a legion of devout fans, and you have had a certain amount of success. Yet there are some artists like say Rihanna and Ciara, who are arguably less talented than you are but seem to have achieved more mainstream success. Why do you think that is?Jaheim: I don’t think they have more success than me. Some of those people you might not see next year. You never know who is on their knees doing what they have to do to get to the next step. You see, I’m not good at ass kissing.AHHA: Okay, I hear that, but some arguably less talented artists, have been able to achieve more mainstream or pop success sales and singles wise and have went on to become household names, whereas you haven’t. Does that bother you?Jaheim: No, it’s kind of like how the president got into office. We don’t know how he got there, but he did. It’s about who you know, and what you’ve done for them. And I’m just bulls**t proof. I think I’m just in my own lane pretty much now. And people will hear that with the next album.AHHA: With that being said, with a lot of the bulls**t that does occur in the entertainment industry, what still motivates you to sing today?Jaheim: My family. That’s pretty much it…and I guess God, because I know God loves music. I know He chose me for a reason. I realized that my talent is a gift. I’ve been around the world and back, and I have yet to hear anything incredible the past ten years. Not to pat myself on the back but  I mean, there are a lot of great singers out there and people with good vocal ability, but I’m talking about beyond that. I’m talking about sound. People that make hit records. I have yet to see anyone. I mean people with their own identities that are not following behind someone else. AHHA: What do you think has been the highest point in your career thus far?Jaheim: I would say coming to Atlantic Records. That’s not something that everybody gets. That’s a blessing. To be able to go from one company to another company.AHHA: So you would say that going from one company to another company is the highest point in you career thus far?Jaheim: Yes. I would.AHHA: Okay, is there any specific reason? Is it going to Atlantic or going to another label period?Jaheim: Going from Warner Bros. to Atlantic.AHHA: O…K. Well is there anyone out that is recording today that you feel like inspires you. Someone that you hear that makes you want to jump in the booth and start recording?Jaheim: No. I’m different. I make music. I have a studio in my home. I may have recorded 40 songs this year. So there’s really nobody. I don’t listen to other [artists] like that. I make my own music. I create my own vibe. I know that in the past I’ve seen a lot of cats do that to me. People will hear a Jaheim record and then I see everybody running to my producers, my songwriters. And that’s just how it is. And then they make the record and it’s just not the same.AHHA: Just like I asked what has been the highest point in your career, do you think there was a really low point? A point where you weren’t sure if you would continue?Jaheim: Yeah, it’s always like that. AHHA: O….K. Was there a particular event that you would say was the lowest point?Jaheim: The beginning of my whole career was like that. I mean I was happy I made money on the road and stuff. I was blessed. But I have not had a good time making music and getting paid – basically nothing from the album side of things. This album here is going to be a lot different. There’s going to be a lot more happiness.AHHA: Now I’m sure you’ve been asked about this a million times, but I have to ask about your altercation at Hot 97 several years ago after your sexuality was questioned. Is there any particular reason you reacted the way you did?Jaheim: I don’t play that s**t. I was young, and don’t no man tell another man who he is, unless you are ready to lose your life. But I’ve changed over the years. I’ve noticed that people like to say things to get you to act out of your character, and sometimes we as artists, we fall into the hole. I knew what I was up against because I saw them do it to another artist. I was just like if this guy comes at me with some bulls**t, I’m prepared for it. And I was, and I gave him what he wanted instead of thinking damn, I almost got a lawsuit, or damn I could have stabbed this dude, or I really could have hurt this guy, and  lost my career. And since then I’ve had time to think about it. He didn’t ask a question, he was just being a smart ass. So I figured I would give him what he was looking for.AHHA: A lot of people feel that there is less feeling or emotion in music. What do you think?Jaheim: I just think things have changed and you have to bounce with the times. You can’t hate things simply because they are changing. At the end of the day, it’s a business. You just have to adapt to it. That’s what I do. I don’t worry about the R. Kellys, I don’t worry about the Ushers. Just because people sell a bunch of records, that don’t mean nothing. As long as the consumers are happy that’s all I’m concerned with.AHHA: Ok. I’m sure you’ve heard about the controversy concerning the title of Nas’s forthcoming album. What are your thoughts on that?Jaheim: What’s the title? Hip Hop is Dead?AHHA: No. The title is N*gger.Jaheim: It depends on what he means by N*gger. He should have the right to call his album whatever he wants to. Nas is a great artist, and he usually has something to say. His first album was I AM [First album was actually Illmatic], basically breaking down who he is. People can’t be mad at us for what people made us. I don’t have anything negative to say about it. If that’s what he wants to do, then that’s him. It’s not going to affect me.AHHA: Now with the holiday season here, what would you say you are most thankful for?Jaheim: I’m most thankful for being able to just spend time with my woman. To reunite with my woman. And spend time with my family. And to put an album out before Christmas.AHHA: If somebody were to ask who is Jaheim in 10-15 years, what do you hope the answer would be then?Jaheim: I look at it like, I’m the voice of R&B. I’m the one that’s going to help you maintain your situation and get through certain things and teach you what real love is.