If technology, the economy and the struggling music industry were not reason enough for going independent in 2008, harnessing creativity and maintaining a living became driving forces for many stars who decided to go independent. In the last 10 years recording artists have faced the growing digital divide head on, some have fared well, while others have nearly disappeared from prominence. As the phrase ‘face the music’ goes, veteran R&B singer Keith Sweat opened the year with his independent release “Just Me”. Sweat’s effort rocketed straight to the top of the R&B charts proving that going indie was lucrative once more. In less than a year nearly 12 R&B stars including Deborah Cox, Sammie, Bobby V, Joe, TQ, Jon B and Montell Jordan opted for the independent or ‘indie’ route, take a look at their respective releases below: Deborah Cox – “The Promise” After taking a number of years off, Deborah Cox returned in 2008 with her own project “The Promise.” Released independently on Deco Records, “The Promise” quickly became one of 2008s anticipated albums. Maintaining integrity with the project Cox says going independent was a way to stay true to self: “I’m never going to compromise or do something for fame. I’m never going to compromise my integrity.” Dwele – “Sketches Of A Man” After rocking with Kanye West on “Flashing Lights” last year, Dwele stepped up to the plate with “Sketches Of A Man,” his first album under a fresh deal with RT Music Group/Koch Records. Led by the single “I’m Cheatin,” which became a top 40 single, Dwele says “Sketches Of A Man” was a test to see if the push from going indie was different than it was from his previous deal at Virgin: “I actually wanted to step indie and see what the difference is between being with a major label and being with an indie label. I wanted to know if I would have even more creativity and how is the push going to be different.” – Nu Soul Mag. Joe – “Joe Thomas, New Man” The title just about sums it up. R&B singer Joe, known for hits like “Stutter,” “I Wanna Know,” and “If I Was Your Man,” signed a joint venture with Kedar Entertainment and released the first of three planned releases in September. Citing creative control as reason enough for taking control of his music this time out, Joe told Singersroom “I decided to take it upon myself to make decisions, it’s exciting but at the same time it’s a definite challenge. I’m getting more of a priority as opposed to being on a label where there are so many great artists, where at the same time they put the attention into the numbers game. I don’t have to worry about the numbers game.” Jon B – “Helpless Romantic” After spending much of his career with Epic, the same label that launched the now Platinum-selling disc “Cool Relax,” Jon B. decided to take his sound to the masses independently in 2008. Releasing his 5th studio album “Helpless Romantic,” Jon B set out to prove he’s still “Oooh So Sexy”. The singer’s single, aptly named “Oooh So Sexy,”was released in October 2008. Montell Jordan – “Let It Rain” Shedding light on his several year absence from music, Montell Jordan returned with the independently released album “Let It Rain” in October. Taking advantage of the latest in internet technology, Jordan unleashed a weekly web-based reality series entitled “Montellivision”. Chronicling his journey from conception to release, his family life and time in the studio, Jordan’s show became a hit on BlogTV where it aired Friday evenings for several weeks. Sammie – “One Way Street” Parting ways with Dallas Austin’s Rowdy Records, former “I Like It” singer Sammie launched his own label with music entertainment veteran Malcolm Lee entitled Empire Entertainment. While he did not release an album in 2008, the Florida-raised singer unveiled the single “One Way Street” and appeared on Soulja Boy Tellum’s 2008 album “iSouljaBoyTellem”. Sammie’s new album, featuring Bryan Michael Cox, Adonis, and Jermaine Dupri is due in 2009. TQ – “Paradise” Returning to “Paradise,” R&B singer and former Cash Money Records signee TQ released his fifth album in April of 2008 via Gracie Productions/EMI. Led by the single S.E.X.Y. – Sexy, Extraordinary, X-Plosive, You, “Paradise” showcased the singer’s growth since 2007s Gemini. Krayzie Bone, Jagged Edge and B.G. joined TQ for the effort. Tweet – “Love, Tweet” Stepping away from a deal with Atlantic Records, Tweet put new music on an album entitled “Love, Tweet” via Umbrella Recordings in 2008. While the album itself has yet to be released, a single entitled “Real Lady” was released during the fall. Bobby V – “The Rebirth” Known for the hit singles “Slow Down” and “Anonymous,” DTP’s former southern gentleman, Bobby V put music into his own hands this year with the launch of Blu Kolla Dreams, his own imprint. Distributed through EMI, V’s Blu Kolla Dreams unleashed the EP album “Come With Me” over the summer. Featuring the single “Another Life,” “Come With Me” will be followed by V’s third solo album “Rebirth” in 2009.
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