issue 75

Monthly newspaper and online publication targeting 18 to 35 year olds. The ultimate guide to the hottest parties, going out and having fun. Music, fashion, film, travel, festivals, technology, comedy, and parties! London, Barcelona, Miami and Ibiza.

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One of the things that really impressed me, you've made history. The first male R&B artist to have your first two singles go to number one on the Billboard Top 100, that's absolutely phenomenal! People tell me not to brag about that but I feel like that's a great accomplishment. To be the first one, out of all these people, and people that I look up to, it feels good. So that people can get a complete understanding of who you are and what inspires you, just do a little bit of scene setting. I understand that you grew up in Washington DC, did you grow up in a musical household? My mum, she's a minister. It was flip- flopped you know, my mum was the preacher and my dad was like the crazy hard worker. It worked out and I just had a different background, I have a few different facets to me. So was it very musical? Were you around instruments and music all the time? I wasn't around instruments, that was just something I felt passion for, I was drawn to it. My mum was a singer, she had a singing group with her sisters, and they were gospel. They did like the seven- part harmonies thing. My dad played the saxophone. I was never around it because my dad died at such an early age, I was 11, but I know that it's in my blood. So bringing us up to Back Of My Lac', you earned a Grammy nomination for that in the category Best Contemporary R&B Album, it debuted at number five on the Billboard Top 200 chart and it catapulted you to musical stardom. Tell me about the making of that album and how much creative control you had because you were signed to a major label at the time weren't you? Yeah at the time I was signed to Capitol Records, but Back Of My Lac which was the name of the album, that was also the name of one of the songs on the album, the song 'Back Of My Lac' was one of the songs that was on my demo. That was my "if I cant get signed off of this song, I'm never gonna get the deal". That's how I felt because I just came from a group. Before I became a solo artist I had already sat in front of LA Reid, I sat in front of all of them, before I was J. Holiday and I was like "if I cant get signed now…" So how much creative control did you have over the project itself then? Well the name of the album ended up being Back Of My Lac', so as far as creative control, they really at the time, and that's what's crazy, which became the downfall of the split between me and Capitol, they really bought into who I was with that music. Like this is something fresh, he can sing, he looks good, all the things that they needed to be there for them as a label, I had. And I didn't know that for me I didn't have everything in place that I needed to be in place. That brings us to that runaway hit 'Bed', you couldn't control that hit, that was just gone! I understand also that Chris Brown was originally supposed to sing it, what's the creative history behind the track itself? Ok this is the hands down story of how I ended up with the song 'Bed'. So I was signed to Capitol Records, Ronnie Johnson at the time had just taken over, pretty much the urban department. He heard the song, Dream sent it to him, and he also sent it to Chris Brown. But it's a pay-to-play game, it's like if there's only two Maseratis in the world, Bill Gates getting one, then somebody else gotta bid on the second one, and whoever get the second one first….I bought the car first! That's all that happened! You got a stunning video that goes along with it. Any interesting stories from that video shoot? Oh man, 'Bed' we just wanted to be a classic. We knew there were sexual innuendos and all that, but we didn't want to be so literal in the visual, we wanted to make it a relationship. If anybody ever really paid attention, the same girl that was in bed was also in 'Suffocate', and we did that as a continuation because we wanted people to feel like you can still have a relationship and show it, visually. So the next single for me that shot in is 'Suffocate', let's get into that one. Give me a quick synopsis of the creative history of that track. Actually the first song I ever put out was 'Be With Me', the next song we put out was 'Bed' and then the third single was 'Suffocate'. But 'Suffocate' was a song that I referenced before I even recorded 'Be With Me'. I referenced this song for actually one of my friends, Omarion. At the time that's not something he wanted to do, with his career and the way he was going with his music, so he decided just not to take the record. And Dream just had it and had it and had it, and the time Back Of My Lac' came around, he was like "yo, you know we still got 'Suffocate'", I was like "oh yo, I forgot about that record!" And we heard it, and by this time 'Bed' is number one, so we like "yo, hit em!" And that's basically what we did. So 2009 saw the release of your appropriately entitled Round 2, you worked with Ne-Yo on the album, Rick Ross features on there. My favourite single is 'It's Yours', that video racked up in excess of 2 million views on YouTube, what's the creative history behind that track? If anybody has the first album Back Of My Lac' then they heard 'Pimp In Me', the writer that I dealt with at that time was Jasper. Jasper also wrote 'It's Yours', and once you have that certain kind of relationship with a writer or a producer, you just make those kind of records and you make magic. And I told him "yo I'm going in for the second album, gimme a record", he sent me 'It's Yours', and I recorded it. So big shout out to Jasper, real talk man. Your independent label Holiday Music Group, obviously you left Capitol and were on Def Jam for a minute, and then you started your own record label now, so is the focus signing other artists or just really putting out your music? Actually the main reason why Holiday Music Group started was because when you're an artist and you really have a passion behind what you want to do, being held on the shelf is like the worst thing that can happen. One of my main things, I have good representation, so I never got caught in a contract where I couldn't get out or move around. Basically it was "y'all gotta put an album out or y'all gotta let me go". They're like "well we got Rihanna, we got Kanye, we got Ne-Yo, we good". I don't mind treading the water, I'm cool, I ain't gonna drown. So that's just basically what happened and they finally let me out my deal, and so Holiday Music Group was kinda a forced situation. As a matter of fact, the best album I'm gonna do is not gonna even be under a major label. This is the best album I've ever had, and they don't get it, but it's cool. Even when we haven't heard from you for a minute, I know you're touring extensively, you've shared a stage with luminaries like R Kelly and Keyshia Cole. What's your most memorable experience on stage and why? Oh man, the most memorable experience I had on stage was when I had a show in Baltimore, Maryland, and this was the first time my mother had seen me perform. Everybody was like "yo you know you're mum's here tonight", I was like "I'm working, I gotta do what I gotta do, I cant think about my mum's in the stand and hope that she's proud", but it came out great and I got a chance to announce her, and she was proud of me. Speaking of which, I understand your mother wrote a book called Raising J. Holiday as well, so that's her flip now back to you. Did she say anything in her book that made you go "ooohh I can't believe you wrote that mum"? Well there was some things in her book that just wasn't spoken, so that was here version of it. You know how they always say there are three sides to the story - your story, their story and the truth - so it was just like seeing me being raised through her eyes. I didn't know she looked at it like that. There were a lot of things that were answered. Two of your musical inspirations, Tupac and Marvin Gaye, both these artists were socially aware and very conscious. I also noticed that on your Twitter feed you posted a picture of Malcom X, on the 15th anniversary of his assassination with the message that we shouldn't forget our sacrifices. Do you think social awareness or injustice is something central to your thinking, especially when you think about what's happened with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown? It's definitely essential to how I think, and how I try to come across in my music. Some of the messages that I put out, those are things that people definitely need to be aware of. I never got into music to be famous, I got into music because I was looking at Tupac and Marvin Gaye and Jodeci, I was like "yo I can do that, I can sing!" And I became an artist, and I had 'Bed' and I had 'Suffocate', and it's like now my opinion matters, so I have to be conscious of that. In 2011 you released the mixtape M.I.A The Lost Pages, and hit us up with the single 'Sign My Name'. In 2013 you gave us the album Guilty Conscience on your independent label Holiday Music Group, and the single 'After We' served to reaffirm your star quality. For me that's one of my favourite J. Holiday tunes! The style the flow and the production, it just married perfectly. Gimme the creative vision behind that track. 'After We' was basically a chapter in the story that I was telling through the whole album Guilty Conscience. 'After We', we just wanted to make sure that people understood that we did that with 'Suffocate', don't think we can't top that! The only reason why that, in everybody else's mind, that it wasn't topped is because it didn't reach everybody that it needed to reach. But 'After We', that was just me letting them know I still can do this. You've got some new material coming out, can you hit me up about any writers on there, any producers, any artists featuring? I know you do a lot of features, but anything you can tell me about what's coming out later on in 2015? The main thing that I can tell you that's coming out is we have a song called 'My Heart's For You', it's coming out under AER Foundation, just be looking for it. And there are some other artists that are also attached to this, it's gonna be a great project, it's definitely something that the ladies wanna pay attention to. I'm also just touring, and about to work on this fourth album. I'm blessed to just be able to still do it and I'm about to just keep it moving. I'm looking for artists, doesn't matter what country or continent, get in touch with me, we do social media. I don't fake the social media, it's me or somebody that's right next to me, no lies over here. 7 47 Issue 75 / 2015 HIPHOP / RNB This Washington DC native and transatlantic superstar's debut album Back Of My Lac' debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 chart and number 32 on the UK album chart. He had made history by being the first male R&B artist to have his first two singles go to number one on the Billboard Top 100 singles chart. This certified hit maker gave you 'It's Yours', 'After We', 'Suffocate' and the international runaway hit 'Bed', the video racked up in excess of 19.5 million views on YouTube. He has been nominated for a BET Award, an American Music Award and a Grammy Award. Not content with musical success, he has made his screen debut in the film School Of Hard Knocks and he's started his own record label Holiday Music Group. All the way from the USA to the UK, I'm talking about the singer, songwriter, actor and performer extraordinaire J. Holiday " When you're an artist and you really have a passion behind what you do, being held on the shelf is like the worst thing "

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