Urban singer/songwriter Jack Knight is a uniquely talented vocalist and songwriter who will be around for many many years to come. Jack Knight is known for composing and producing hits for the likes of Monifah, BLACKstreet, Total, Carl Thomas, and many others. Jack Knight is that guy you always heard singing around the way when you was a shorty, and you was wishing somebody would sign him so he could stop singing in your ear all damn day. ?I knew when I signed him to Bad Boy Music Publishing it was the beginning of something great! Now he’s giving something back to new songwriters in a book the reveals some of the secrets I taught him.” – Diddy, CEO and founder of Bad Boy Entertainment.
Being the first writer signed to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs publishing company, “The Writing Factory” How did the situation arise in?
Jack Knight: Some how one of my song, that me and Chad (Neptunes) did, got to Puffy?s hands. He flew me right up from Virginia and we had a meeting. He told me that he knew I was an artist, but he had a lot of artist who were already signed on Bad Boy. And he needs more writers than artist, so that was the start of our relationship.
How are you able to craft a song for another artist, in which the song actually represents who that artist is?
Jack Knight: It is funny you asked that, because I have a book I just wrote. Each chapter is about one of my songs and the process of coming up with it. I speak real highly of getting a good person to reference your song, if you write a song it is good to find a reference singer who may or may not sound like the artist. If you want to sell a song to Usher it is good to get somebody that has that type of voice texture if you can. If you want to sell a song to Tyrese or Janet Jackson, or anybody you want to get somebody who is close to their sound. In terms of crafting a song for someone that?s as far as I would go. Other than that I pretty much write what I feel.
Usually when you shop your demo and the artist picks it, do usually go in the studio with the artist to bring the song to life?
Jack Knight: Yea definitely, having an artist for me is a real important job. It is kind of just like having a new kid, because most artists are brand new to the business. Some of them have a good work ethic and some of them don?t. So you don?t want to take on too many artist or too many projects, but that is the process. Finding an artist that is new and record something fresh with them and try to get them a deal or work with a new artist on a label?and kind of growing together.
What made you decide to write the ?Urban Experience??
Jack Knight: I went on Puff?s ?No Way Out? tour in Europe and I kept going back to Europe after that. To Germany, Amsterdam, England to places like that. Every time I told people what I did, it would become this conservation in the middle of a bar or middle of a club. How do you write and how did you come up with that idea? So I decided, I was going to take all my information and everything I have accumulated up until this point and write a book. So people can see, how to do it themselves. Mainly kids like me, who didn?t really have that urban model to shape their writing after. I wanted to write an urban book that?s why it is called the ?Urban Experience.?
So this book will help aspiring music artist learn how to write?
Jack Knight: Yea definitely, not only artist but people who write poetry, people who do spoken word, R&B artist, and people who want to learn creative writing. Songwriting is creative writing; you?re taking your experiences good or bad and putting them on paper.
You are an educator at SongU.com, how did that come about?
Jack Knight: Well I am one of the faculty at SongU.com. Sara Light, she is the co-author with me with the book. She adds all the different antidotes and exercises at the end of each chapter. Her and I got tight during that whole process of me and her writing the book for over two years. So it was a natural progression for me to become a director and faculty at SongU. Since then it has been great, the book is done and we have also done online workshops at SongU. The last one we did about four weeks ago, over a hundred people showed up from different parts of the world, to hear me talk about how I did Carl Thomas song called ?My First Love.? So the whole hour and a half was about one song and the whole process of that, it was real fun. SongU.com is an ongoing relationship and its getting better and better.
Are you looking to continue to do more workshops with this book and go into schools?
Jack Knight: What I want to do ideally is, I want to create lesson plans for different high schools. Not necessarily get it in the curriculum of a high school but just get workshops. To help motivate kids and to show them that the whole thought process behind songwriting is related to education. If you are a great reader you can be a great songwriter because you have a lot of stuff to write about. If you can speak well you can become a great songwriter, so there are certain classes in school that those kids who want to be a songwriter can begin to take up once I give them the workshop. That is my goal to go into different high schools throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, and all the boroughs and give kids an opportunity to see what I do. Ultimately besides from me having a book and selling the book and getting the book published, the main thing I want to do is form a learning center where kids can come get tutored for free, learn songwriting for free, learn production for free, if there parents can?t afford it. That is my ultimate goal.
How do you differentiate your songwriting style from other writers?
Jack Knight: Well my writing style in particular has taken a natural progression in ways like you do what you do, with what you have. Basically I?m not a singer, so my songs when I write them, I write them with an artist in mind but with my own ability. Then I have the artist or reference singer take it to the next level. I think my writing is basically the things a working person goes through in their relationships, in lives, at their job, in the club. Real things, real heart felt things so when people hear your songs they can identify with that. When I co-wrote ?Can?t Believe? with Mario Winans, a duet with Carl Thomas and Faith, I was writing from a real experience. Seeing somebody you loved cuddle with somebody else ?never imagine it would be a faded picture I?m emotional? never imagine this relationship that we had, that was so good and bright would be a distant memory. That is real, so my style if I can pin point anything it is being real and talking about real subjects.
What projects are you working on now?
Jack Knight: Right now I just finished up working on Lil? Kim?s new album ?Naked Truth?, I sung a song with her and Snoop Dogg called ?Chronic.? She asked me to do it and it was fun doing it and she is a real good friend of mine. Her album got a lot of critical acclaim, so I was happy to be on the album because she is one of the best lyrist to me, and one of the best female MC?s. Then I did the Biggie album, Biggie?s album was a real incredible project to work because you had to use a lot of the old vocals from Biggie but it was all new beats and rappers joining in with him. But you had to capture his essence of what he was saying about what he was saying then and you had to capture essence of what you want the fans to see him as now. So it was real tricky and fun. I did a song for Akon on the album, I did one for Faith with Biggie and Game, me and Static Quo put that together. Right now I?m working on Puff?s new album, it?s his last album and a ton of new artist on Bad Boy Shannon Jones, Cheri Dennis?a lot of new project and fresh new talent.
Back to singing, didn?t you put out an album back in 1999?
Jack Knight: Yea its funny I speak about that too in the book in one of the chapters. It talks about how I was a rapper and I really couldn?t sing and I couldn?t play instruments. But I had the desire and passion to do it. Every year it gets better and better. I taught myself how to play the guitar, I taught myself how to sing and hold melody just enough to get the thought across. Then eventually I started to get more polished with my singing, more polished with my guitar playing and after a while I did decided I wanted to come to the world from a different angle. Because I already wrote songs for other people and came through them, I wanted to show people my diversity. I made an album? it had R&B, Rock, Pop, Soul. It received a lot of critical acclaim. The label I was on was young at the time and they did not know how to market me to radio correctly. They put a lot into it; everybody at the label was really into it from the president to marketing. It was a good experience.
Are you looking to make another album?
Jack Knight: Yea I?m working on some stuff. I?m doing some collaborations with a couple of my friends, doing some stuff with Mario Winans we did a couple of songs together. Doing some stuff with Static he is on Universal, he is a great songwriter as well. I?m just collaborating with people, putting stuff down when it feels right building the catalog. I?ll decide from that point to put something out as a compilation or do some type of Jack Knight with friends or something fun and artistic. I love writing, producing and I love being behind the scenes, and seeing people take my work to the next level is the best feeling in the world. It is a good feeling to go in the club or come off a plane and get in a cab and hear your record come on, and know you wrote that.
When is the book expected to be released?
Jack Knight: We plan on releasing it probably first or second quarter around that time. —— By: Interview by: Gary ?Jus Music? Gentles