Jacquees on Love For Lil Wayne and Making Time for ‘Real Life’
Ask Jacquees if he always knew he was going to be an artist and the Decatur, Georgia, native says confidently he had no plan B. Or, perhaps, a semi-plan B of becoming a professional football player, a smaller dream that was dashed when his coach from sixth to tenth grade left when he was a sophomore in high school. Listen to the way the 24-year-old’s vocals effortlessly manuever over a trap&B beat or a soulful melody, though, and it’s hard to imagine ‘Quees doing anything else.
As TIDAL’s Rising Artist of the Week, the master serenader reflects on his upbringing in Decatur as the only man in his household and realizing his dream of signing to Birdman’s Cash Money Records. He also named Lil Wayne as his personal favorite G.O.A.T. and stresses the importance of making time for his personal life while in the limelight.
Your debut album title 4275 is a tribute to your roots in Georgia. Talk to me about how you were raised and the music you were influenced by growing up in Decatur.
I was raised by my mother and my community. It’s the East side [of Decatur], it’s different from every side. The type of music I grew up listening to and was influenced by was the Jacksons, Temptations. I used to listen to Hot Boyz, Ginuwine, Usher, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Jodeci, Jagged Edge, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ron Isley, R. Kelly — all the classics.
Do you remember the first song you ever sung?
The first song I ever sung was ‘I Want You Back’ [by The Jackson 5]. I got in a talent in elementary school when I was nine and I won.
Why do you feel like your brand of R&B is unique?
I feel like I got the classic sound of R&B, the sound of the ‘90s and early 2000s mixed in with the new age R&B. I think the classic sound is what separates me.
You’ve already had many co-signs from Ty Dolla $ign to Chris Brown. You have Donnell Jones, Jagged Edge and Jermaine Dupri among others on your album and sampled Avant on your breakout hit “B.E.D.” Why haven’t you collaborated with Avant, by the way?
I would have collabo’d with Avant but I never got to speak to him on the phone or anything like that. I read an article [where he said] he’s a fan of me, likes the music and loved what I did with the sample but I would love to work with him on anything. I was and still am a fan of Avant’s music.
As an up-and-coming artist, how does it feel to get so much love and work with your idols early in your career?
It feels good. It’s early in my career as far as me being in the game. I’ve been around for like 10 years but it feels great to get the love I feel I always deserved. It’s another thing to get the love from the people you looked up to, like working with people like Chris [Brown], who tells you, ‘You’re the next one’ and you was just at home, watching him on TV. It was like you got handpicked by God to be in that position.
4275 is your debut album, but you’ve done so many projects, including 10 mixtapes, before. What do you credit that patience to?
I just believe in God. I call it ‘God’s timing’ so I just always moved like that. My momma always told me, when my time comes, I was gonna skip the line. I always believed that. It just registered in my head when I was young.
As an R&B singer, you’re always catering to the ladies. What did growing up with your mom and sisters teach you about women?
I learned everything about women just from them. Just being in the house with all women, I was the man of the house. The ins and outs of women, the attitudes, how to deal with women, what they expect from me, how you should treat women, respect, love. My mom taught me about love.
You sing about falling in and out of love. What is it like dating while trying to make a name for yourself in the music business? Do you even have time to date?
I mean it’s cool. You gotta find time for real life. You don’t wanna lose your moves. You could be doing this and not be having fun because you’re so focused on this. Music is fun but everything is tied to each other so dating is fun, too because you gotta live life and of course, I don’t want to be by myself all the time.
Talk about how Rich Homie Quan’s father and manager brought you to Cash Money Records.
Well, first, shout out to Corey [Lamar], that’s my dawg. Basically, I had Corey’s number and never called him. I had seen Corey in the streets a lot and he would tell me, ‘Man, we need to shoot [something].’ He heard one of my songs on the mixtape and he’s like, ‘I’m finna shoot that video and give you some money.’ So he was just always someone that supported me.
I picked up the phone because I knew that Quan was with Rich Gang and I was like, ‘Bro, I’m trying to get with Rich Gang.’ And he was like, ‘I’m with Birdman right now. Send me a song you did.’ I sent over a record and then Stunna [Birdman] called me, ‘I’m gonna put you with Rich Gang.’ I went and met with him on a tour bus three days later and I was signed to Cash Money two weeks later.
How was that initial conversation with Birdman?
It was on the phone. I had never heard his voice but when I heard it, my eyes almost watered up because I was like, ‘Damn, I’m finna do it.’ I knew it was him on the phone but I was just praying like, man, I hope everything go through. Then I met with him on the tour bus in Atlanta. It was me, Corey and Bird. He sat in front of me and basically stared at me. I was just thinking like, ‘Man, he must think I look like [Lil] Wayne or something.’ [Laughs] He looked at Corey then he looked at me, dapped me up and said, ‘We finna do it.’
What are some of the words of wisdom he’s given to you?
Stunna’s a huge inspiration to me. He done boosted my confidence. I was already confident but he took my confidence to another level. He made me feel like a superstar. He just always told me to stay focused with everything because I ain’t never been on this level. I ain’t never had this much money. I ain’t never had this much success. With my fans, he always tellin’ me that when you step outside, you gotta be ready to take pictures, do everything even if you’re in a bad mood because these are the people who love you and support you. He always in the studio with me, giving me pointers. I always take his advice because I trust what he say.
When I got signed to Stunna, [things] sped up. He used to always put us on the spot. When we got out of Rich Gang — me, [Young] Thug, Quan, London [on da Track], everybody — ‘cause London was the producer in-house for Rich Gang and Stunna would be like, ‘Make a song with London. I’ll be back in an hour to hear what y’all got.’ He expects you to make a song that quick because that’s how fast he used to working. I was ready for a challenge and I always beat the challenge, stood up from jump and never failed.
Who’s your dream collaborator?
I wanna work with Wayne and Drake next. I already told Birdman two days ago. He actually brought it to me. He was like I’m finna push you to Wayne.
What would that mean to you to have a song with him?
I looked up to Wayne when I was a little kid. Wayne’s still my favorite rapper. Wayne’s the reason I signed to Cash Money but it’s like I love Wayne, even though I didn’t rap. I wanted to be a rapper before I knew I could sing. I never tried to look like Wayne, except when I was little. When I was five or six, I had the Cash Money chain with foil in my mouth. It was already a dream come true signing to Cash Money but it’s another thing to work with Wayne. That’s like signing to Motown and not getting to work with Michael Jackson. I ain’t met [Wayne] yet but I know he rock with my music.
What’s next for you?
I see myself being really successful. I know I gotta stay focused but that should be easy. I got my mind right but I just see myself being huge. I see myself being in movies. I see my album going platinum more than once. I see myself dropping albums ’til I’m old. I don’t plan on stopping. I don’t plan on retiring. I plan on starting my label. I just plan on being a boss.
Listen to 4275 on TIDAL and stay tuned for Jacquees’ exclusive playlist dropping later this week.
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