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GFM Spotlight Interview: Syleena Johnson Talks Chapter 6 & The Good & Bad of Reality TV

Posted on November 27th, 2014 by

syleena johnson

We caught up with Syleena Johnson for a Grown Folks conversation that covered her recently released album Chapter 6: Couples Therapy, her evolution as an artist and some real, reality tv talk. Read below.

GFM: You have a new album: Chapter 6: Couples Therapy. Before we talk about the album, the first single was “Perfectly Worthless” and the video addresses a very serious subject. Talk about the video. Who came up with concept? Is that a subject that’s very close to you or very important to you? Why did you want to address it in the video?

SJ: I just feel like it’s a very real situation. I have been in a situation where that was kind of what was going on. I don’t really like to get in to it. I just know that it’s a very real situation. And I wanted to portray something a lot deeper. I think that we’re very surface normally when we talk about love relationships most of the time. I just wanted to really hone in on the pain portion. Tangie B. Moore had the idea of the video. Obviously, she got the whole pain part. It’s a broken relationship. But, I really wanted to add in the gun and I wanted to add in elements like that. Her drinking and smoking– that’s the stuff I know. I’m not from the streets, but I’m from the hood and actually that is the kind of stuff that we (women) would do when we would get mad. I’ve have staked outside of men’s homes and all of that back in the day. I just wanted to touch a real subject matter that really doesn’t get to be touched. There’s a back story to this video. This video is a spin off to something much greater that’s coming. You’ll get to see the tenacity of the situation and why it got to that point. It’s not just like, ‘Oh he cheated on me.’ If you pay attention closely, he cheated on her with their therapist and got pregnant… had a baby with the therapist. So that right there is bananas enough, but it’s even deeper than that. Obviously something’s wrong them if they’re in therapy. Not wrong, but there’s obviously some mental issues going on and some things going on in their relationship where they would need therapy. For him to cheat on her with the therapist is kinda like ‘wow’, and then get her pregnant… he’s living a double life, actually. It’s a lot that goes on with this video, but I like the way it turned out. I’m very pleased with it, actually.

GFM: Let’s talk about the album itself: Couples Therapy. Talk about the writing and the production on the album. How did the collabos come about? You have a few collaborations on the album.

SJ: The writing was collaborative with myself and the producers, which are Kajun and Pierre Medor. The collaborations were just people that I have good relationships with that I know are extremely talented. I’ve always wanted to work with Dave Hollister my entire career since I was young girl. I remember being a freshman in college and loving Blackstreet, so I’ve always loved him and his voice.

GFM: It’s a gorgeous record (“Harmony”) by the way.

SJ: Thank you. I agree with you.

SJ: Leela James is a good friend of mine, so that was easy. (I) just call(ed) up Leela to come do the song with me. I love Leela’s voice because it’s different and she reminds me of myself. We get classified a lot because of the tones of our voice. I really just wanted to give a double-dose of something that people ain’t used to you know? (laughs) Willie (Taylor) is a good friend of mine. He’s from the same hood as I am. He’s super duper talented. He doesn’t get the credit for being that talented. He was in Day 26, so obviously people know he’s talented, but he’s more talented than that. (He’s more) talented than people really know. I was going to work with him on Chapter 5, but our song didn’t get to make that album. We were able to have the opportunity to work (together) on Chapter 6, which was great.

GFM: How would describe you describe your evolution as an artist since the beginning of your career until now?

SJ: It’s been a real-life maturation. It’s been real-life growing pains. You all have seen me actually go through these growing pains, well hear me go through these growing pains, and I now see me I guess with R&B Divas. I just put them into songs. What you get to hear is my journal. That’s basically what you’re hearing. Some of the things that I’m dealing with (and) some of the things that I’m thinking of through song.

GFM: Speaking of R&B Divas– with you being on TV and cameras on you and you just saying you are transparent in a lot of your music– what’s that like to have that light on you all the time? Do you ever think, ‘What did I do,’ as far as being part of reality TV? How has that affected you?

SJ: As far as the way that I’m portrayed, I’m pretty much what you see is what you get. For me, and maybe I’m lucky, because everybody else seems to think that editing has ruined their lives, but maybe I’m the lucky one. There has been some editing stuff that I’ve been like, “I didn’t say that… not ‘I didn’t say that,’ because I said everything.

GFM: But not like that?

SJ: No, I said it like I said it too, but what I’m saying is I didn’t do that at that time. For instance, it will be real simple stuff. We did a performance on Season 3. For the order of the show, Keke didn’t go last. I went after Keke and then Angie came on and did a set, but they only showed Angie do one record, because it was drama behind the scenes. It was Meelah, Monifah, Keke then myself. Keke chose not to go and Mo picked to go first, but they (the producers/editors) did the order how they wanted it to go. They did it how they wanted to do it. That’s okay. I don’t care about stuff like that. To me, that’s not ruining my life. (Another example is:) They might put a scene that you know you filmed two days before– they might have to put it later. That’s the type of editing that I see. I don’t see nobody putting no words in nobody’s mouth and taking words from over here and putting them over there. I’ve never seen that so I don’t know. As far as how I’m portrayed, I’m portrayed pretty accurately so far. I don’t know what’s gonna happen coming up. (laughs) The only thing that I don’t like about reality TV in general– it has nothing to do with R&B Divas it’s just a general thing– is the anxiety that it causes. I have anxiety because of reality TV.

GFM: How so?

SJ: I don’t like to be in conflict with people and reality TV causes real-life conflicts. I hate that. I hate that with all my heart. I really wish that we could get out of our own way sometimes and just be like… friends. The best experience that I’ve had so far is Marriage Bootcamp. And I was real stressed, I was so anxious because we had to take a lie detector test and we had do all of these hard drills. It was a lot of soul searching and all of that on TV. I don’t really care about people seeing me be vulnerable. I don’t care about that. But, it was really tough. If the cameras were on, the drills were tough, but we all became so close. We left that house close– like friends. Well, not like friends– we left that house as friends. Every single person in that house talks to each other and loves each other. I’m on four-way feeds with Heidi, Natalie and Rachel every other day. We’re planning a trip. We have a good time. It’s not the same with R&B Divas. That’s really sad. I don’t like that. Me and Monifah are very close. Me and Meelah still talk. When I see Latavia, I still talk to her, but you know the other ladies– we don’t talk. I think it’s the show that has done that. Not per se the show, but being on the show for some people–they’re not strong enough. They can’t look past what’s going on. People be in their feelings real good and they can’t get past the fact that some of this stuff is entertainment. Some of this stuff is for ratings and for television. It’s still on television. But, it’s not like they’re (camera crews) following me around all day. You have a call time. It’s not like they’re at your house. Now (with) Marriage Bootcamp, you wake up and the cameras are in your bedroom. But R&B Divas? There are no cameras like that all in your house. No, they show up and that’s when the cameras are there. When they leave, the cameras and mics and stuff are gone. So, you really have control of what you say and do. They’re not catching you saying nothing. You can control that.

GFM: What has the positive experience (from reality TV) been? How have you felt that it has helped your music career?

SJ: The exposure and being able to take and expand your brand. All of that is really cool. I have a good time. (laughs) People have a bad time. So far, I’m having a good time. I don’t wanna be like ‘yeah, everything’s great,’ and then next week it’s like ‘oh… the editing!’ (laughs) So far it’s good.

GFM: Because of R&B Divas and reality TV, we think we know Syleena Johnson. But my question is, who is Syleena Johnson?

SJ: I’m still trying to figure that out Child. (I’m) a mom, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a recording artist, a motivator, a health and fitness advocate. I’m so many things. I’m every woman. How about that?

Get Chapter 6: Couples Therapy at Amazon and iTunes

Watch Syleena Johnson on R&B Divas: Atlanta and on the upcoming season of WEtv’s Marriage Bootcamp: Reality Stars

Connect with Syleena Johnson
At miptags.com, type in SJ
On Twitter: @syleena_johnson
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/Syleena.Johnson.OFFICIAL

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#Get Grown: Alyson Williams: “Can’t Have My Man”

Posted on November 26th, 2014 by

“‘Cause I got it goin’ on…” Get grown.

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#NewMusic: J. Nolan – “Shield of Faith”

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by

24grlmu

As J. Nolan lays forth his stated creative intention “…my aim is to provide more substantial music that speaks to the internal struggles of our time and to be a better example with the voice that Hip-Hop has enabled our generation to have.” We here at GFM could not agree more and count it as our obligation to present a voice such as J. Nolan who has been countering the numerous assumptions that many of my(often cynical) generation re: Hip Hop circa 2014.

What I encourage us Growns (of every generation) to do when presented with an offering such as “Shield of Faith” is to listen, feel, and as so moved share. That’s something that we can all do that in the power of the aggregate is extremely substantial.

Link up with and Order J.Nolan Merchandise at: http://bit.ly/TeamRighteous
http://twitter.com/realjnolan
http://instagram.com/realjnolan
http://facebook.com/realjnolan
(678)-600-3250

About Ivan Orr

Ivan Orr is a musician/social critic whose creative output runs the gamut from provocative to entertaining. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music(Jazz Studies Emphasis) with a minor in African American Studies. During the 1990’s and early 2000’s Ivan was involved with The Music Resource Center in Charlottesville, VA.

Events: ATL: Big Gipp’s Mixtape Release Party at the Koo Koo Room Tonight!

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by

gipp mixtape release flyer 1

Tonight

in his hometown of Atlanta,

at the Legendary Koo Koo Room

Big Gipp Celebrates the Release of the First and LAST Mixtape of his career, “Mr. Get Down.”
“Mr. Get Down” is Available For Download Thanksgiving Day Via DatPiff 

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#Morningspiration: Donny Hathaway – “We Need You Right Now”

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by

Man, man, man has gotten way out of hand with his evil ways… I think if more people would take the time to understand that there is something far greater than themselves that can provide all the help aid and assistance that is needed in good times and bad, perhaps, just perhaps. We don’t have all the answers but many in their own arrogant ignorance feel that they can’t right a perceived wrong through force, intimidation and unfortunately violence that has lead to far too many deaths. One death in this manner is one too many.

While none of us are perfect, we do have the choice to move away from and improve on our imperfections daily. Each day is a choice, but when the same tragedies continue to befall in the same way time and time again at the hands of persons who have taken an oath to protect first and serve second there has to be a questioning across the board of who are these people and to whom did they swear out to protect and serve? Some of the people? All of the people? Or just all of the property held by some of the people?

On my personal journey I have been questioning the whole notion of what is truly just. I know that I don’t have nor do I want the power to determine the date on the right side of the dash for any wonderfully and beautifully made creation. That’s how we were created but clearly as we tarry here the struggle for many is to understand that all of us, all of us were created in the same manner and should be respected as such. Will there be strife? Certainly. Will there be arguments and false accusations, insults and so on hurled back and forth that assail the humanity of all involved? No question. But what is the cost? What was the charge again and who is ultimately playing judge and jury and the penalty? Oh the penalty… all of our humanity is equal, all.

As we have lived under the rule of the line of Caesars for eons and in the quest to do whatever is “right” we have rendered not only what is due to Caesar but far more. It use to be fodder when someone would tell you not to “Throw water on my face and the tell me it’s raining.” Now? It’s been raining for too long for families who have had to endure the type of loss of life that the Brown Family has (and countless others) only to be confronted with not one why but a seemingly never ending list of whys. In far too many instances the us in this justice system of ours is not working because there was never a we to begin with. When you understand and respect the humanity of others as it relates to your own humanity the end results are vastly different. Perhaps we could all make an effort to work on becoming an actual we by spending sometime with the you that should reside in all of us.

About Ivan Orr

Ivan Orr is a musician/social critic whose creative output runs the gamut from provocative to entertaining. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music(Jazz Studies Emphasis) with a minor in African American Studies. During the 1990’s and early 2000’s Ivan was involved with The Music Resource Center in Charlottesville, VA.

New Music: J. Moss feat. Faith Evans: “You Make Me Feel”

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by

Beautiful melodies from J Moss and Faith Evans on “You Make Me Feel” and while we don’t wanna keep talkin’ ’bout the old days, this one takes us back to those ’90s jams. Check it out. “You Make Me Feel” is from J. Moss’ new album, Grown Folks Gospel.

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

GFM Spotlight Interview (Video): Daley Talks Unplugged Tour, Atlanta & What He Fell in Love with in America

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by

daley atlanta

Grown Folks Music was blessed to catch up to Daley again after his acoustic show in Atlanta for a quick chat. We talked about why he chose to go unplugged for this leg of the tour, the energy he feels from the Atlanta audience and his newly found affection for biscuits in America. Watch and enjoy.

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

New Music: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars: “Uptown Funk”

Posted on November 24th, 2014 by

Check out “Uptown Funk” from Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. There was some discussion at the GFM HQ about this song. It ranged from the opinion that there seems to be a trend of artists creating a “throwback” genre, which hinders artistic originality– to gratitude that some artists are willing to present the the funk and soul to the youngsters–even if they are emulating the greats. In any case we all agreed that “Uptown Funk” is indeed funky enough for us to rock with it.

About DJKKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.