Pen Sessions: A-Rod Talks Fantasia, Working With Party Animal Jamie Foxx, MJB, Marvin’s Room, More

Songwriters are at the core of music production. A-Rod is one of these up and coming songwriters that has written for greats such as Mary J Blige, Jamie Foxx and Fantasia. What would R&B be without the Smokey Robinsons, Ne-Yos and Babyfaces of the game? They give us the words that make those moments you listen to music memorable. We had the opportunity to chop it up with A-Rod about what he had going on. Check it out!

Magic Studio Moments … I have so many. The Fantasia sessions were like being with family you haven’t seen in a long time…with all the jokes and laughs we had. The Mary J sessions were amazing because we were the first people to work in Marvin Gaye’s (Marvin Room Studio) since Michael Jackson so the vibe in there was amazing! It was an honor to record in the same room where those two legends had recorded while working with Mary who is a legend as well. Jamie Foxx’s sessions were a party every night!!! Lol!!! We were making dope music and learning from one of the greatest entertainers of our time. That was a blessing!

The Formula … I tend to come up with melodies first, but sometimes there is a concept I thought of earlier in the week or day while I was driving or something that I want to write about.

Working With The Folks … When I work with other writers I like to vibe with the track and discuss our experiences so we can draw from those. I’ve written "The Way" for Ariana Grande along with Sevyn Streeter and Jordin Sparks. The song is about being in love with someone and not caring what anyone else thinks. I feel like we’ve all been there at some point in our lives, sometimes it can be foolish and looking back we can see why. But while we are in it, we are happy, and that’s all that matters to us at the time. “Haunted” by Fantasia ft. Tank And King Los is the story of so many young women where I’m from (Newark, NJ) and in every hood in the world, so it strikes a chord with me. The song describes the struggle and pitfalls inner city women and men persevere through their everyday life….Finally “Without Me” by Fantasia featuring Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliot is a song about people in our lives who we have been there for and helped develop into the people they are now, but somewhere along the line they act like they forgot how it all went down. It’s just reminding them that even though its all good now, it wasn’t always good…so where would they be without the help and encouragement they got from us?

Renaissance Man … I watched a movie with Danny DeVito and Stacy Dash (I was and still am big on Ms. Dash lol) called “Renaissance Man,” which means to be a man of many hats…different facets of your personality and style. I think that describes me the best. I can be hood with a t-shirt and Jordans or I can throw on a suit and be the intellectual type. I can write rap hooks or bubblegum pop records. I can do the R&B ballad, country, rock and gospel songs … just like the clothes I wear my musical style changes effortlessly.

The Influencers … Babyface is my biggest influence as a songwriter, his catalog and long list of top 10 records speak for themselves. Musically, everything from Jay-Z, Nas, R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Sade to Hall and Oates, Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton to Kirk Franklin and Hezekiah Walker.

Chasing The Classic … As a writer, I am in pursuit of writing a CLASSIC song…something that will be played a generation later. As a business man, I want to leave the mark of someone who rose to the top of the industry with class and integrity…someone who did it GODS way and showed that we can do GOOD, FAIR business. I want to be a DOOR OPENER for others to come through and usher in a new era in the music industry…

I knew It Was Real … When I walked into my very first session and it was with Jamie Foxx…and also when I got my 1st Billboard hot 100 Top 10 record.

LEARN YOUR CRAFT… Study what your trying to do … read up on it! Check the charts. Set goals and realistic plans of action by which to achieve those goals.

Family & GOD … My family and the fact I know GOD has put me in this industry to affect change in the people and the world.

Surreal … Its kind of surreal…your like wow that’s something that came from my mind…it makes you feel like ANYTHING is possible when you put your mind to it and the timing is right…

If It Wasn’t For This Music Thing … Teaching…I have my degree from Bloomfield College in History.

Hanging Out With The Folk … Don’t do a lot of hanging out…lol I’m busy with all the projects I’m currently working on, but when I do, I like going to PINZ bowling center in North Hollywood, CA.

LA … LA … City of Dreams … I love L.A. its like you took Miami and NY and dumped it on the west coast.

What the ladies like … They like my sense of humor.

Love & Pain … Love in its purest form of what life was intended to be about…when its tainted its pain…life as we know it is about the balance of both…I accept them and pray for the scales to always tip in the favor of love…

Artists To Watch … Hahaaha my artists Bianca Imam and Khristian B…they are two young talented performers that I think will make a great impact in the industry. Their sounds are unique to them and people will be able to find themselves in their music.

The Chosen … I don’t think I’m special…I do believe I’m called and chosen to do some AMAZING things with my life…

If I Was A Character From A Movie It Would Be … I would be Simba from the Lion King lol.

We are watching new talents fill in the ranks. It will be interesting to see the change in music as the names slowly change.