No story is good without watching the hero get knocked down before he rises; Sterling Simms story follows the same storyline. In 2008 Simms released his debut album on Def Jam which went unnoticed due to sub-par performance of his single and lack of label support. The misfortune fueled him to return to the studio to improve his songwriting, vocals and business team to position him for another shot at success on a major record label. His work ethnic paid off with a new record deal with J Records.
Singersroom: So let’s start off with a “Congratulations” on all these moves you’ve been making. Tell me a bit about your new deal with J Records and how that all happened.
Sterling: I started doing a lot of work with the production team, the Stereotypes, because of my relationship with my homeboy Ray, who actually signed me to Def Jam. He’s 1/3 of the Stereotypes.
God just kinda works, man. I do a lot of work with Oak and Pop; we have a company called the Knightwritaz, and we’re all in the same compound. Me and Ray just had a conversation one day, like “Why don’t we just finish what we started? Why don’t we go in and do another project?” This time, we can just do it our way and not have anyone tell us what to do; we can just do what we want. So we were like, “Alright bet.”
The more and more we started cutting records, the more and more people started hearing about the things we were doing. I was introduced to Peter Edge, and I went to New York for a showcase, and it was pretty much a done deal after that.
Singersroom: Well since we know you’re part of the Knightwritaz production team, are you working on records for anyone else at the moment or solely focused on your own music?
Sterling: Right now, I’m working solely on my stuff. But Oak and Pop are continuously working. They’re working on some stuff for Nicki Minaj’s next project, they did stuff for Fantasia, they worked on Wiz Khalifa’s project… They currently have Diggy Simmon’s single, the “Copy & Paste” record. So we’re all still working. They’ll also help me work on my project as well. We’re just working, and paying the bills. Bongbong! Keeping it swaggin’.
Singersroom: So since you just signed a partnership under the Stereotypes label, are you solely working with them on your next album or with whomever?
Sterling: I’m working with whoever. I’ve been working with Stereotypes, Oak and Pop, the Internz â I love their sound â and just anyone who’s fresh. I’m just trying to keep it fresh, and do great music. They can come by here, hear what we’re doing, and if they’re satisfied and want to jump on, I’m with it.
What happens with the Stereotypes is that I pretty much have a room almost to myself. They’ll give me beats, and I’ll go in and I just rock out and make hot records. The booth is like therapy for me. I’m constantly in the booth, and that’s how this mixtape actually came about.
I’m releasing the mixtape in another week or so, and it’s called ‘July’s Finest.’ It really came about in 3 weeks. I had all these different dope beats, and I just wanted to rock out real quick. So I just went in, and I was just feeling everything out. And just one record after another started coming about, so we were like “Let’s just give this to people for free.” And I mean, I wanted to start fresh and start over, so I was like “Cool.” The project is coming out incredible so far. In the short time that we’ve been working, I have a gang of records cut. It’s almost not fair because it’s coming so easy; because between me, the Types, and Knightwritaz, we all have this synergy that’s just incredible, so the records come out like nothing. It’s not weird for me to go in and do records in one day, because that’s how the records come about; they come that fast. I just want to keep working and keep putting out great music.
Singersroom: Is the mixtape filled with original tracks or remakes? Because the one you released was a remix of Big Sean’s song “Marvin Gaye & Chardonnay”…
Sterling: Well out of the ten songs I have on there, I only did two covers. I did the remake of Big Sean’s record for “Mary J & Cabernet”. I also did “When A Woman’s Fed Up,” and I won’t say over what track but it wasn’t the original R. Kelly track; I did it over another track. I think it came out dope. But those are the only two covers I have on the mixtape. Everything else is all original music.
I did 3-4 records with the Stereotypes, 3-4 records with Oak and Pop, and they all came out crazy. It’s definitely fresh music… Some of which you can expect on my next album. I haven’t had it titled yet, but it’s a great piece of work so far.
What’s crazy is that we haven’t really went in on the album yet; we’ve just been cutting records. I would come in, hear a record that I really like, and just cut it on the spot. We’re just really honing in on what we’re going to do towards end of August and all of September… We’re just going to rock out. We’ve talked about going to Miami to catch some of that Miami wave and all the creativity that’s going on out there… Get a different perspective. I’m definitely going home to Philly, just for nostalgic reasons. I just want to go home, and eat a cheese-steak or two, and then go into the studio and come up with something hot.
Singersroom: So speaking of Philly… I know you moved out here to L.A. in the last few years. How’s L.A. life been treating you?
Sterling: L.A.’s been great. The weather’s great. It’s great to come out here and work. There’s great creativity out here… a lot of people out here. The networking has been great. I’ve been able to jump into the TV industry a little bit. I just shot two commercials in the past couple of months. I love it. Like I said, you can’t beat the weather. [Laughs]
I mean, who goes to the beach in October? You can do that out here. I barbecued in November last year. I can’t do that back home. I was talking to my mom and my aunts back home, and they’ve got on Skullies. I don’t even get to touch my Skullies out here! The weather is so crazy. It’s a little bittersweet at times too, because I do miss home and being close to family. Being out here, I’m so far away from my family, and sometimes it’s a little crazy. But I love it out here.
Singersroom: Shifting gears, I have to say that your debut album ‘Yours, Mine and The Truth’ was highly slept on. And there were some critics that felt that Def Jam didn’t give your album enough of a push or promo… What can you say went down over there?
Sterling: I’ll just say this. Def Jam had its highs and its lows. It was a learning experience for myself and for my team. I’m thankful for the opportunity that they gave me over there… It didn’t work out. Sometimes in business, and sometimes in life, things just don’t work out. And it’s cool. I don’t have any hard feelings. I’m appreciative of LA Reid and everyone over at Def Jam that gave me an opportunity because they saw something in me. I’m appreciative of that.
But this is a new chapter in my life. I’m looking forward to starting fresh with J Records. Sometimes it’s always better the second time around. You saw it with Gaga, Alicia Keys, and a lot of different artists. I’m looking forward to the J Records/Sony system, and working with Peter Edge and the team over at J Records. I’m excited.. I’m happy for it. I’m all about new beginnings.
Singersroom: Speaking of “new beginnings,” congrats on your son!
Sterling: Aw, thank you. Thank you.
Singersroom: How’s fatherhood been treating you?
Sterling: Aw man… Eye-opening experience. [Laughs] It’s something I wouldn’t change for the world. He’s definitely the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You’re not living for yourself anymore, so I’ve matured a lot. You’ll hear it in my records, you’ll see it when you meet me… Like if you knew me before, you know me now… I’m a different person. I don’t have the same kind of mentality anymore. I think things through a lot more now. A lot of my moves are more calculated now too, because I don’t just move for myself but for my kid. It’s also a question of how I want to leave my impression in the world. If I don’t do it musically, I still have my kid. It’s a great experience.
Singersroom: Is that him on the cover of your mixtape too?
Sterling: Yeah, that’s him. [Laughs] My little homie, man.
Singersoom: I also believe you mentioned heading out to London next week…
Sterling: Oh yeah, We’re going out there to work. I’m going out there to get some writing done… Pop, myself, and others. I can’t wait. It’s my first time over the pond. I leave Tuesday, and I’ll be over there for a week and some change. I’m looking forward to it. I may shoot a video while I’m over there for the mixtape. I’m excited… I can’t wait. It’s going to be a long flight, but it’s all good. [Laughs]
Singersoom: So why London though?
Sterling: Why not?! [Laughs] Nah actually what happened was that the Stereotypes were going over there to write for some artists. So they were like, “Yo, you should come over with us. It’d be a great experience for you to come and see something new.” So I jumped at it. I’m gonna say “no”?! Nooo. [Laughs]
I’m going to go over there and get some work done, work on some other projects, and work on my stuff as well. Get some of that London air in me.
Singersroom: I know you’re also really good friends with Marsha, and since now both of you are on J Records… Can we finally get a collaboration?
Sterling: It’s definitely in the works. I just talked to her the day before yesterday, and it’s an exciting time. Me and her have been working together for almost four years now, and I was there through the whole Aftermath experience she had and when she went over to J Records… Exciting time for her. She’s getting everything she deserves because she works her ass off. If anybody deserves it, Marsha does. Not to mention, I think she’s one of the dopest female vocalists ever. Her records speak for itself. We talked a couple of days ago about collaborating on my project, and of course, her second project. I’m going to Philly to go work, and she’s probably going to be in Philly… So we’re just going to rock it out.
If God-willing, we’ll be putting out projects, my second project and her second solo project, around the same time and we’ll go touring together next year. That’s in a perfect world. We’ll see what happens.
Singersroom: That would be crazy! You also have some other good friends from your Def Jam days… Electrik Red. Will you be working with them as well?
Sterling: Definitely looking forward to working with Electrik Red. Those are like my sisters out here. They all live out here, so I’m looking forward to that as well.
Singersroom: Besides working on your album, what’s next after your mixtape drops?
Sterling: We’ll see what happens. Hopefully the people will love one of these records, and we’ll go on tour in the fourth quarter. I’ll continue to work on this album, and put the album out sometime next year. Definitely going to also jump into some TV opportunities. I’m also going to be raising my son and be a great dad.
—— By: Interview By Connie Tang