R&B quartet, Jagged Edge has proven to be as timeless as their music. Breaking into the industry in the 1990’s, the group has offered music lovers ballads, dance tracks, and other hit singles that have stood the test of time. The Atlanta based singer-songwriters are back again to capture fans as only they know how as the group prepares for their seventh studio album. Recently Jagged Edge (Brandon, Brian, Kyle, and Wingo) gave Singersroom an exclusive interview in which they revealed their secrets to longevity in a group, if they feel pressured to compete with today’s male R&B artists, and what advice they would give to the Jagged Edge of the ’90s.
Singersroom: Being R&B veterans, what would you all say is the secret to a group’s longevity in this industry?
Jagged Edge: For a group I would say the first thing is to keep God first. With all the different opinions and ways of doing things it’s good to have something that centers everybody and that has definitely been our relationship with God. Second most important thing is to respect one another. You don’t have to be a lead singer to have an opinion. You don’t have to not be heard because you aren’t the lead singer either. As long as that type of respect flows from every member of the group then things are usually okay.
Singersroom: How have you been able to reinvent yourselves throughout the years?
Jagged Edge: First of all you don’t want to lose who you are as an artist but at the same time you want to infuse what’s new and what’s different. Every year music grows and goes to different places and you don’t want to be so stuck in who you are and your identity that you forget to add the old in with the new. So I think as long as you’re willing to take the old which is the core of what you do goes, with what’s new, fresh, and trendy right now then you shouldn’t have a problem.
Singersroom: The group’s seventh studio album is set to release this summer. What can fans expect from this album that they have not yet seen or heard from you all?
Jagged Edge: Well music changes so much that I think one of the keys to our success has been that. We aren’t afraid of change with music. If you want us to sing real fast we’ll do one or two songs where we sing real fast. If you want autotune we’ll do one or two songs with autotune [Laughs]. I feel like that’s what you can expect from this album as well. Of course, the things people have grown to love us for which is usually our ballads and meaningful heartfelt records will be on the album as well. So we take that and add in all the trendy stuff.
Singersroom: I know that throughout the group’s career, you all have had the opportunity to work with groundbreaking artists. Are there any artists you all have yet to work with that you are looking forward to collaborating with on future projects?
Jagged Edge: No. Honestly, we’ve kind of worked with everyone we ever set out to work with. Every name we put out there saying ‘I want to work with that person’ – it’s always come to fruition. For us the most interesting thing to do right now would be getting back with those artists we’ve worked with who have proved to be around longer than a year or two. I think it’s something to be said for the people who find a way to do this year after year because it isn’t an easy job. But at the same time it’s some great up and coming artists and young artists – I love Chris Brown, I dig Trey Songz. It’s a few guys that I appreciate and respect. For us though, the things that would bring about the most exciting cameos would be some of the more established artists like Jay-Z and people who have found a way to do this year after year.
Singersroom: If you could speak to Jagged Edge in 1997 when your debut album was released, what advice and tips would you give the group?
Jagged Edge: [Laughs] That is a great question! I would tell all the guys that number one we need to cherish, honor, and respect every relationship that has gone into making Jagged Edge a household name. I think sometimes when you’re younger you have a braggadocious way of looking at yourself. You feel so confident in your ability that you almost feel like you don’t need this person or that person but that’s not true. You do need people along the way and those people who have proven to be instrumental in your career, you always want to hold a special place for them. So my advice to Jagged Edge would be to smarten up and mature a lot faster than we actually did. Also, I would tell Jagged Edge to stay centered. You don’t want to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. I think in the past when things were going great we would tend to get a little careless, but we also had a way of beating ourselves up as a unit when things aren’t going quite the way we want. Its a rocky road, there will be ups and downs and the best you can do is be true to yourself, stay true to your family, and stay true to this craft. I think for the most part this Jagged Edge and the old Jagged Edge, we always try to stay true to this craft we just gotta learn to take the highs with the highs and the lows with the lows.
Singersroom: Issues surrounding relationships make up the bulk of your songs, do you pull your inspiration more from personal experiences or what is seen around you?
Jagged Edge: I think it’s both. I think as songwriters, we draw from so many different things. Some of our bigger records were someone in the group’s story. But it’s plenty of records on albums that none of us went through – we got it from a homeboy or my mom and what she went through. It all makes for great songwriting. To be able to take things you see and hear and experience and put it into words that actually catch somebody’s attention – it all makes for great songwriting. We’ve always been observant people and never knew it was a talent in that. If you can be a person who is just observant it makes for great songwriting. So when it comes time to make a song we are rarely at a loss for words and situations.
Singersroom: Do you feel pressure to compete with newcomers to the genre or do you believe your music will speak for itself?
Jagged Edge: I believe our music does speak for itself and it is timeless but if you aren’t offering up music that is competitive then you’re at a loss. You always have to look at what’s going on in the marketplace before you drop. You don’t ever want to be too far away from what’s going on in general. Sometimes you can be creative and do your own thing but it’s also a lot of people you have to dumb music down for and you sometimes miss people when you go off on your own little creative license. So you always have to kind of gauge what you do with what other people do as well as staying true to yourself. You have people who are 12 and 13 who are just now really listening to music. To them Chris Brown and Trey Songz are banging so teens think that is the it sound and you don’t want to be too far away from what that age group thinks is hot. It’s competition in a sense but not by design. It’s competition because any business when you put out a product you’re going to compete but I think at the same time I believe that Jagged Edge is its own thing. We can hold our own.
Singersroom: In your opinion what are three key factors, any relationship needs to survive?
Jagged Edge: I say one is to be flexible. I think sometimes we get so caught up in our relationship being the way it was when we started it. That’s not what’s going to carry into the future. You have to be willing to change when your mate changes. That’s the one thing I saw in my own relationships that kind of put a damper on it – being stuck in my own ways and not allowing change to set it. Second, would be communication which I think is first for some people. You can’t do anything if you can’t talk to each other. The third would be trust. Having trust and being in a relationship with a woman who loves and cares for you allows you not to operate in jealousy and those other emotions that show up when you don’t trust your partner. If you trust your woman, you’re down for her and she’s down for you so you don’t have as many problems.
Singersroom: What has been the most humbling or rewarding moment of the group’s career?
Jagged Edge: That’s kind of easy for me to be honest. It was the Baby Makin’ Project only selling about about 400,000 copies when we’re use to selling platinum, double platinum, and triple platinum. I felt like it was a humbling experience because there was a time when I began to feel like ‘We got this!’ and we can go out there and impose our will over other artists. It’s the competitive nature in me and I think that experience coming out only selling that many copies was a reality check and a very humbling experience.
—— By: Interview By Aleta Watson