Jodeci Forever My Lady Album Cover

#JodeciFridays: "U&I"

Jodeci Fridays. "U&I" is from Jodeci's debut album, Forever My Lady.


Jodeci Forever My Lady Album Cover

#JodeciFridays: "Forever My Lady"

It's Jodeci Friday Y'all. "Forever My Lady" is from Jodeci's debut album, Forever My Lady.


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Mr. Dalvin Speaks on Jodeci: Past, Present & Future, Social Media & Getting Proper Recognition as a R&B Group

 

Grown Folks Music caught up Mr. Dalvin of Jodeci and he chopped it up with us about the group's new album, gaining new fans as a result of embracing social media, and whether or not Jodeci got its due back in the day. Read and enjoy.

GFM: I heard you say that this isn't technically a reunion because you never broke up. Why was 2015 the right time for the brotherhood called Jodeci to put an album out?

Mr. Dalvin: I think the radio is kinda starving for what we left. Collectively as us and as four individuals. Music is like a revolving door. It was just time for great music... big harmonies and a soulful sound and love making music just to come back. Being that it's been great music over the last two decades that we took the hiatus, it was just time for the sound of where we left off. It never really got older still. We felt it was time for a new generation... multiple times... to hear it.

GFM: Were there any concerns about what the response would be?

Mr. Dalvin: The concern was more (from) record executives that really don't know what real R&B music is who came along the lines of new-age R&B. (They) felt like it (the music) would be a little antiquated or old, but music always stands. Music doesn't have a shelf life. It doesn't have an expiration date. People know good music and enjoy good music that gives you a certain type of feeling. (Music that) puts you in the mood to dance... puts you in the mood to make love... makes you happy... makes you sad (and) tugs on your emotions. That's what real R&B does. That's what real soul music does. It touches your soul in different kinds of ways. Jodeci was responsible for a lot of that in the early 90s and throughout.

GFM: After you decided that you were going to put an album out did you just pull songs from the vault, or did you start with a blank canvas?

Mr. Dalvin: Every canvas is pretty much blank until you hear the finished product. Even though it may be ideas that you come across, or old ideas that you start back up, or things that you think about. But, it's never a finished canvas until you actually put the product out to the public. Ideas could come today or tomorrow. We could've started a verse maybe ten years ago and finished the song ten years later. Every thing is pretty much new until it's a finished product.

GFM: Had Jodeci ever done any guest appearances before? How did B.o.B. get involved?

Mr. Dalvin: The song "Nobody Wins" is not really written about domestic violence, but the content of it touches on domestic violence. We had a couple of people who made a couple of versus, but the marriage didn't quite happen. It wasn't the quality of the verse that we were looking for. B.o.B. came... which we'd never worked with B.o.B.... he came and he just said the perfect thing that matched the idea and the concept for the song that we had. Devante wrote the song without a feature in mind, but when he (B.o.B.) came along he touched on it and made it really special.

GFM: Jodeci has embraced social media, and you guys are using it as tool to promote the project. What has surprised you the most about the social media experience since you've started to use it as a tool?

Mr. Dalvin: In the '90s when Jodeci came out there was no such thing as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram... (there was) no social media. In order to touch your fan base you had to do the ground work. You had to travel from state to state to state doing promotional tours (to) reach the fans and rely on radio stations and rely on any kind of avenue that you could to actually reach your fans. Now, you know you can hit a button and reach millions of people. Social media could be detrimental too. It could hurt or it could help. Now you have to almost reinvent yourself into a business model to what social media is, because it's totally different for artists of our era or artists from back in the day. You have to really conform to what the new music business is and what the new tool is to reach your fans, which is a lot easier, but sometimes it can be dangerous as well.

GFM: What has been the upside of it... you feel... for you and the group?

Mr. Dalvin: The upside as far as Jodeci coming back is a lot of new fans don't know who Jodeci is. They know the brand as far as the name. They don't know the individual members... the four members in the group... but they know the brand. As Jodeci rolls out really heavily on social media, a lot of our new fans get to experience what we are today, what we were yesterday and (they) get to go back and enjoy the tree and the roots that we put down as far as R&B music. It makes it a lot more special to them learning the history of what Jodeci really is, because everybody thinks "Every Moment" is our first single. They like the single, (but) when they go back and hear (the music) they're like, 'Wow, that sounds like the stuff they did in the '90s or the late '90s.' I think it makes it really special.

GFM: We have a couple of fan questions.The first is from Michele. Michele is responsible for what we call on our Facebook page #JodeciFridays, because she used to request Jodeci every week on Fridays. This has been going on for a couple of years now. So now we automatically post one or two songs on #JodeciFridays. Shout out to Michele. Michele's question is, "Why wasn't there a video made for "U&I" back in the day?"

Mr. Dalvin: Hi Michele, by the way. "U&I" was never released as a single. It was just one of the songs that fit on the album and it was never a single. Back in the day you had a budget for every single you released and the record company would agree with you what the next single was. (Concerning) "U&I", by that time they figured (we) had two or three singles off the album and the album was pretty much at its peak as far as sales. They didn't want to keep dumping money into an album that they felt had reached its potential peak of sales, so they're off to either the next project or they dump money into other avenues to exploit the artist at the time.

GFM: Another fan, named Ladybird, has a question. She rides really hard for you guys. She says, "Do you ever feel as though Jodeci has been unsung or underappreciated and should have received more awards?"

Mr. Dalvin: That's a good question. Well I could say that being biased (and) that I am a part of Jodeci. Back in the day the Grammys didn't accept soul music, so they overlooked Jodeci in a lot of things. We were never invited to the Grammys. I think we opened the door for a lot or artists that came, because they couldn't deny that the foundation that we laid as far as artists. Even going back before us-- the Temptations and The Four tops and so on before Jodeci. The way we portrayed (R&B) music... you listened to it different and you looked at it different. We came through with jeans on, the boots and the hats and we weren't considered R&B music. We were considered bad boys of R&B. It was kinda like, 'Okay, we're just a dangerous group.' That's like inviting NWA to the Grammys. You never would do it, because they were scared of NWA. We were unpredictable. I felt like we got shunned from a lot of things because they didn't know what to expect from Jodeci due to the reputation of us being the bad boys of R&B, which made it special because it made us more interesting as a group. We never tried to conform or crossover. We let pop music crossover to us. We never set out to be a pop group. Having said that I think nowadays, due to social media, it's a demand for what the original sound of this hard-core R&B comes from... and it's Jodeci.

GFM: The past is the hits. The present is the new project. What do you hope for the future? What's the future of Jodeci?

Mr Dalvin: I can see a feature film. I can see books. I can see a lot of artists still coming from under us as far as producers. My brother had Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Ginuwine. Static Major wrote for most of Aaliyah's stuff. I can see us producing more artists, more records, a lot of touring, a lot of dates and being seen around the world and around the country again.

Jodeci's new album The Past, The Present, The Future is available NOW. Get it at iTunes.

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GFM Spotlight Interview: Steven Russell Harts (of TROOP) Talks New Solo Project, TROOP Reunited and Today's Music Industry

The Wedding Singer

Steven Russell Harts, lead singer of the group TROOP-- yes Grown Folks, that TROOP-- took time out to talk with Grown Folks Music. We chopped it up about his current solo album The Wedding Singer and the remix of the first single, "Shelter Deluxe" (Listen to it here). We also talked about the current situation that R&B music finds itself in, TROOP's recent episode on the TV One series Unsung, and the return of TROOP. Read the interview below and enjoy.

GFM: Let's jump right, in. You have a solo project out (called) The Wedding Singer. The first single is "Shelter". Before we get into the album, can we talk about the "Shelter Deluxe" remix that you have going with that all-star lineup? How in the world did you get all these people? You've got... and let me make sure I'm correct... and (you can) correct me if I'm wrong... you've got Joe Little from the Rude Boys. You have one of my hometown favorites, Mr. Keith Washington. You have the silky and smooth Howard Hewett. You've have one of my favorite people in the entire world, Mr. Al B. Sure! and you have Elliott Yamin and let me just say, he goes in on this remix. He is one of the most underrated voices out today, but that's a discussion for another time. How in the world did you make this thing happen?

SRH: You know, I just feel like R&B is in a state of emergency in a certain fashion. So, I've just been trying to come up with ways that I could do whatever I could to bring some interest and make R&B interesting. I just called up a bunch of my friends and asked them if they would help me do this remix-- this idea that I had to do like a "Secret Garden" with this song "Shelter"-- because I think "Shelter" is such a good song for women. They agreed. They all came in and me and Al B. got together and figured out the parts and it turned into magic.

GFM: You mean you didn't do your parts remotely? You mean you got all of these brothers in one studio to do the remix?

SRH: Oh no, no. It was only a couple of people here at the same time. But, I got everybody to be down and come and participate... yeah.

GFM: So going back to the album overall--The Wedding Singer. Listening to the songs, they do sound a bit like a soundtrack to a wedding. Tell us about the feel of the album and the meaning behind the title of the album.

SRH: Well I wanted it to be... like you said.. I wanted it to be a soundtrack to love. Discovering love... remembering love.. making a decision about being in love. I wanted it to be all those things under one umbrella. The title actually came from my brother. He always teases me about, "If I could sing man, I would be singing at everybody's wedding. People get married everyday." (laughs) He's on me about doing certain stuff. We were playing pool one day and he was playing a bunch of my music and he said, "This is my album right here. This is the wedding singer." That's how it happened. I went and put a bunch of good songs together that I thought would fit the purpose and that's how I got the album.

GFM: Those of us... or those out there who haven't seen TROOP's Unsung episode should know that you haven't been sitting inactive after the years that TROOP disbanded. Can you talk about the work that you continued to do in the music industry and with whom-- some of the artists that you've worked with?

SRH: At one point in my career I had to make a decision about keeping songs for a future TROOP album... if it happened or not. I decided to send some music around to a few friends at labels and I was able to start my career as a writer/producer. Randy Jackson, from American Idol, actually was the first person that gave me a shot with a group called Jersey Avenue. The song was called "I Wonder Why". From that, I joined with a couple of buddies of mine, Harvey Mason, Jr. and Damon Thomas. We started The Underdogs. And Jay Valentine... Jay was actually there before me and we all got together and started The Underdogs. From there we produced Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks' "No Air", Chris Brown, Charlie Wilson, Ruben Studdard, Katharine McPhee, David Archuleta and Aretha Franklin. I mean I've worked with almost everybody that's anybody, except Rihanna, I haven't had a chance to meet her. I even had a chance to sit in... when we did Dreamgirls, I worked with Beyonce', you know just sitting in and watching her do her thing, so that was a privilege. So, I've managed to stay pretty busy over the years... got a couple Grammys.

GFM: Oh that's all... just a couple. (laughs) Just a couple little Grammys. I had no idea you that were part of The Underdogs. Do you continue to work with them?

SRH: Yeah, I work with The Underdogs often. I am on my own now, but I go and write with them all the time, yes.

GFM: Speaking of the Unsung episode, were you satisfied with how TROOP's story was told?

SRH: I thought it was decent. I thought it was safe. I wish that it would've been... you know that was the opportunity for the raw truth to come out and I thought they made it a little safe just for certain members of the group to feel a certain comfort or whatever. So, I think it was cool. I think it was nice. It didn't get into the depths of why decisions were made. What led to certain decisions... they never did get into that. They just kinda did an overlook of the whole thing, which I think was okay. I think it was cool. I think it served its purpose, yes. But I wish it was more truthful about the relationships and how it went bad amongst the group. They didn't really tell the truth or get too deep about that.

GFM: What advice if any do you give... if asked... to these young artists coming along about the inner workings of the music industry?

SRH: Well the music industry now is so different. People are creating themselves. You can become an Instagram star now. It's a totally different game. I would say to somebody pursuing music seriously to make sure they have a great team around them. Get some great representation. Promote yourself and create as much buzz on your own as you possibly can because any label... any representative that you go to is going to be looking at your followers on Instagram, or Facebook, or MySpace-- all this stuff. All that matters now. You have to really just build yourself up and try to become who you're gonna be, because the labels are not gonna create an artist these days. You have to already be who you're gonna be-- already have a following before a label will touch you. I would say just work hard. If you believe in yourself stick to it. Don't take "no" for an answer and just constantly create new music. And know the business.

GFM: That intrigues me that you say that. I was watching a music documentary,and forgive me for not remembering the title, (but) one of the people interviewed said the same thing you just said. Labels no longer create the artists or invest in the artists to that degree. You already have to come with something-- with followers and kind of a package. But with that said, the reason that intrigues me is how do you account for the image that artists seem to be molded into after they're signed and after stardom comes. The music they're asked to sing and perform. The lyrics they're asked to sing and the outfits they're asked to wear. How do you account for that which seems to be a little bit different than it was before they were signed? The image that seems to be different?

SRH: It depends. I think that's independently on each camp... on what image they're trying to portray. You know most people nowadays do what they see. They might see somebody dressing a certain way and try to put a little spin on it. There's not a lot of originality going on. There's so many different artists that are out right now that look the same and dress the same. It's kinda hard to say that it's just the record label doing that. I think it's just the record companies pushing... the record company wants what's hot, so they're not trying to create a Michael Jackson or believe in a Prince. They don't have time for that. They don't have time for you to go from "I Wanna Be Your Lover" to "Purple Rain". They just don't have that kind of time. I just think it's a sign of a times. We're in an era right now where this period of music... this era of music... it's just that time where it's not a lot of extra creativity. Those who do step out of the box as far as work ethic and creativity like a Beyonce'-- she stays young and fresh and keeps everything with how the times are, but she works like Tina Turner. She's the only one that does it and she's the only Beyonce'.

We're just in that era where everything is the same. We're not in the era where you've got TROOP, New Edition, Ready For The World and Mint Condition. We're just not in those days anymore. You're not in the day where you have several production teams doing a bunch of great music. If you do have different production teams, they're all trying to sound like one producer. It's one producer's sound that's ruling the industry-- which is fine for him. I think the heavens have opened up for him so that's great, but we're in an industry. We're in an industry where when you turn on pop radio you hear different songs. You hear different meanings... different looks. You see different videos when you turn to pop television, but when you come to R&B, they've crammed up into R&B Hip-Hop, so we're all just one thing. Hip-Hop can't breathe without R&B, and R&B can't be loved as R&B without having some slick, Hip-Hop way to it. I think that train wreck right there is gonna kill R&B, because Hip-Hop's not going nowhere. Hip-Hop is going to evolve into anything. It has a life of its own. Anything can be Hip-Hop. R&B is what's really at stake.

GFM: Just touching back on what you said about the Instagram star. The age of the Instagram star, the internet star-- all of those outlets where you can become a sensation very quickly. Do you think that has also contributed to the death of the R&B male group? The R&B male group is an endangered species. Where have the R&B male groups gone?

SRH: Shoot, I'll go a little further and say the R&B male group is extinct almost. You see a TGT pop up. You see TROOP is making their way back. It's extinct because the labels are not interested in it. It's not about what the female fans or the fans want. It's about what's gonna make the quickest buck for today. They don't care that Silk is still out on the road every weekend and people would love to hear a new song and see a new Silk album, or a new H-Town album. They just don't care about that. It just doesn't matter. Groups like us--TROOP and Silk and New Edition-- we make our money out on the road doing touring. So the fact that we've had hits (means) we don't have to have new songs. We never have to create another song to be TROOP and to go out and make millions of dollars on the road. We've already created them with "Spread My Wings" and "All I Do" and the stuff that we did in the past. So, the record companies... they have to make their money where they can. If it's a young hot act that sounds like something in the club right now, then let's go. Let's go get it. There's no interest in a male R&B situation.

GFM: That's unfortunate, because I look at the White (pop) boy bands like The Wanted, One Direction and Five Seconds of Summer and there seems to be an interest in putting together the White (pop) boy bands or male groups, but none with the R&B male group. I think that's something that's sorely missed... along with the solo R&B male artist, but that's a discussion for another time.

GFM: Tell us what's going on with TROOP. We are reuniting, I hear. We have a single, "Not In A Million Years". Tell us everything about the TROOP reunion.

SRH: The TROOP reunion is great. Right now we're performing a lot. Since the Unsung episode, we've been working like crazy so we've just really been rehearsing and getting our tour life back together, to be honest, while we record between being out of town. It's going great. Everybody has a bunch of great ideas. We have a new single called "Not In A Million Years. (It's) just a taste of TROOP-- where we left off and where we are now as far as those classic records having not gone anywhere. We still can do that, but the album is gonna be filled with fresh, new music. We're gonna be in the club this time-- we're bangin'. We're just gonna do what we're supposed to do to represent the age that we're in. We're not going anywhere, so we don't have to fight the grain of music that's going on. We've just gotta get with it and do TROOP. Do what TROOP would do today. So, we're having fun just coming up with the ideas. It's gonna be amazing.

Connect with Steven Russell Harts
On Twitter - @StevenRusel
On Facebook - http://facebook.com/StevenRussellHarts
On Instagram - @SteveofTroop

Attend Steven's Songwriters Social mixer: email songwriters@MatthewsEnt.com
Booking: TROOP or Steven Russell Harts booking@MatthewsEnt.com

Connect with TROOP
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/TROOPRnB
On Facebook: http://facebook.com/TROOPReturn


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New Music Video: Nas: "Bye Baby"

Nas lays it all out on "Bye Baby". As if it weren't clear who and what he's talking about in this song, he drops visual clues such as wedding video footage and a green wedding dress sitting in his lap. But the cherry on top is the story is set to the dope Guy track, "Goodbye Love" and the "Nasty Man" himself, Aaron Hall is singing the hook; making "Bye Baby" an instant classic. Enjoy.


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Song of the Day: Eric Roberson: "The Moon"

This song is a '90s masterpiece. It's so quintessential '90s you could pick it out of a line up. From the New Jack production of the track, to the complimentary female vocals to the prowess and swagger with which Eric sings the track. It's a very different Erro than we're used to today, but he is going in. All the way in-- displaying the mad vocals he's working with. This track hints at the MAJOR contender he would have been among male R&B vocalists in that era if his album had been released. If you like a good '90s slow jam, then this is for you. "The Moon" by Eric Roberson in 1994.


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Grammy Nominated: Raphael Saadiq

Raphael Saadiq is a music veteran. He started playing the bass guitar at the age of six. When he was barely 18, he auditioned and won a spot in Sheila E.'s backing band for Prince's Parade tour. Raphael Saadiq is probably best known as one-third of the R&B group Tony!Toni!Tone!, which put out some bonafide jams in the '90s like "Feels Good" and Anniversary". Saadiq put out his first solo album in 2002 and since then he has been no stranger to Grammy nominations. This year's nomination for Best Traditional R&B performance for the song "Good Man", from the album Stone Rollin makes a total of 12 nominations of Raphael Saadiq. He has won one. To see if Raphael Saadiq will win this year, check out the Grammy Awards on February 12 at 8/7c on CBS.