Ca$h Money recording artist Jacquees (pronounced jah kwese) is back and with another sultry bedroom anthem, titled “Say Yea.” Produced by Future, the song rides a sexy and slow beat towards a climactic chorus from the powerhouse vocalist…flaunting his dynamic range with a falsetto-fueled crescendo.
With a video to match, Jacquees bridges the gap between eras, by enlisting multi-platinum R&B legend Keith Sweat for a surprise cameo. Jacquees continues to be one of the most prolific R&B artists on the scene today. Most recently, he released “Not Jus Anybody” featuring Future, which was the No. 1 Most Added Record at Urban Radio. Prior to that, he teamed up with Queen Naija on the song, “Bed Friend,” and was on Vedo’s track, “For Me.”
Jacquees certainly has a lot going on these days, along with a new album in the works, notwithstanding. We at Music Industry Quarterly were elated that the ATL-based singer-songwriter and performer provided us with an opportunity to chat.
Let’s talk about the new single, “Say Yeah.” It’s like a midtempo ballad with an almost bluesy kind of feel. Talk about the vibe you were going for?
I was really going for a darker vibe. It kind of has that blues feel. We wanted something dark and sexy. I feel like the lights are supposed to be off when you’re listening to the song.
The video is quite striking and upscale. Who directed the video, and how did you get Keith Sweat to appear in it?
The video was directed by me and B Pace. I pretty much direct all of my videos with him. I wanted to give it that Mr. Biggs and R. Kelly-like vibe from back in the day. I wanted to highlight an O.G. mentoring a Young G who is on the come up. I knew Keith would be perfect. I wanted to show people that Keith has got real love for me, and I got love for him. It was really easy to get him for the video. All I had to do was ask him. I said let’s do this for the culture. And he was with it.
When can we expect a new album and what can fans expect from you this time?
Future executive produced the album. I haven’t got a title yet, but I expect it to come out this summer. It’s going to be full of great R&B. I got [collabs with] Summer Walker, 6LACK, and Future on the album and some more surprises. I’m sure my fans will love it. We’ve got some great producers. It’s a familiar sound, with special tweaks to it. Future added some special sauce to it. You gotta just listen to it!
You’ve been on Ca$h Money Records for eight years. That’s a long time for an artist to be affiliated with one label these days. What’s been the key to that long-running relationship, and how important is creative control?
It’s been exactly 8 years. The key has been keeping it real with each other and treating the relationship like family…but keeping our business straight. It makes it feel like more than just business; it makes me want to stay attached. The creative control aspect has been super important. I always love and respect Ca$h Money’s input as well, they always gave me creative control as an artist. Even if I feel different about something, it’s never been a forceful thing. At the end of the day, they allow me to do what I want as an artist—whether with my album covers, my pictures, or my videos. I salute Ca$h Money because they allow me to be an artist. I think that’s super dope.
In that time, how have you evolved as an artist, and as a songwriter?
I’ve evolved in so many ways. My [writing] pen has gotten stronger…just listening to different artists and different styles of music and, of course, working with the writers and producers on my various projects. We stay in the lab, constantly. I’ve gotten stronger getting into the studio and learning how to record myself…being able to come to the board with the engineer and experimenting with certain sounds that I need. I’ve definitely gotten
better as a performer, and how I interact with my audience…Just all around. I’m a student
of the game. I study myself and I’m always looking for ways to get better.
When you first came out, you seemingly flooded the market with mixtapes, EPs and guest features. Do you feel you’ve come to a point in your career where you can take your time in between releases?
I never really want to slow up. I feel like we’re going to get to a time where we’re going to
get older and may not have a choice but to slow down. I don’t have that choice now. I gotta keep running 100 miles per hour. This is just the beginning. I know I have done a lot
of stuff but I’ve been dropping music since I was 14. We got a long way to go. That’s what
keeps me going because I know how far I can take this. I know all I’ve done, and I still see
where I can go.
Since your “BED” breakout record a few years back, how much pressure do you put on yourself to keep creating more hits?
I’m my biggest critic, and I never cheat myself. I may be in the studio singing a note, the producer may say it’s good, but I’m always thinking of ways that I can do it better. It may
take a hundred times. He’s telling me to go to the next line, but it’s important for me to get
it right. I always want to put out the best stuff possible. I know my potential.
You’ve done a lot of features, duets and collabs over your career. Are there one or two that are your standout favorites?
All of the records I’ve done with Chris Brown are super special to me. By Chris being my
idol, I really wanted to work with him. That was one of my dreams. For us to have the
relationship we have and make music together was on my bucket list. Some people meet
their favorite artists, but they never get to collaborate with them. For him to give me that
respect and allow me to make music with him was super dope.
And who is someone you have yet to collaborate with that you would like to work with?
It would definitely be Drake. I feel like I’m the only artist from my city that’s on the level that I’m on without a Drake feature. I’m ready for that secret sauce.
Other than your own music, what have you been listening to lately? Is there anything musically inspiring you?
I really like Future’s new album…
Do you plan on going on the road this summer? What do you like most about performing? Is there a place outside of the U.S. where fans surprised you?
I’m definitely looking forward to going on tour. We don’t have all of our dates scheduled just yet. But I always tour when I release an album or a mixtape. I’m always doing shows.
Keep checking on my website for tour dates. Jacquees.com
What I love about performing is the energy from the fans…all the different faces in the
audience. Seeing the audience singing my songs at the top of their lungs…Watching them singing back the stuff that we created. I got a lot of fans in the UK. I actually toured in
the UK where every show was sold out. That was super dope.
What do you enjoy most about being Jacquees?
That I’m just being me. Whenever something is sent to tear me down, it never works. I was born this way, and I’m super blessed. And I get all of the girls, too [laughs]. I’m having fun. If I wasn’t having fun then I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m in the industry and I’m
working. I get paid to do this, but it doesn’t feel like a job.
Photo Credit: Nathan Pearcy
Interview Conducted by David A. Mitchell