If most artist had Jay Sean's outlook or had the chance to have his outlook, music would certainly be less generic today. The singer-songwriter-beatboxer, who was introduced to American in 2009 with his Billboard No. 1 hit "Down", has grown immensely since then, and even though the industry continues to change into a supply chain, he continues to make sure he releases heartfelt music.
On today, the Cash Money crooner drops his long awaited fourth studio album 'Neon', which boast collaborations with Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross and Ace Hood. It took Jay Sean "three to four" years to make this project, but he makes it clear that his record label let him do him as he created music that "felt good".
Singersroom caught up with Jay recently and he opens up about a plethora of topics like his inspirations, the love at Cash Money, making an album without pressure, being passionate about music and much more. Check out the video or read on.
Style & Inspirations: I grew up on the best of them, in a great era, my aunts and my parents used to listen to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Donnie Hathaway, all these great singers and vocalist. For me, I grew up really being impressed by vocals more than anything else. I listened to a bunch of different things though, even though it was primarily R&B and Hip Hop music, I still loved different stuff. I'd listen to Guns n Roses, Coldplay, Keen, all these bands who would emote in a different way too. Primarily though, vocalist is whom I look up to.
Emulating The Greats: Me trying to literally emulate the way that my idols would sing, so I try to sing along with a Stevie song or try to copy all his runs and riffs, which is very difficult, and I tried to do the same with Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, and all these guys. I found myself being really intrigued by soul singers, I found that they sang from the heart…that's how my music is. I write from the heart, I sing from the heart, when people hear my music (Neon), they're gonna hear that it's coming from a place of substance and reality.
Creating 'Neon': I put the words hit and smash out my head. Those two words are used way too much in the creative part of music, songwriters and producers can vouch for this. We used those words too much, and we shouldn't use it until it's an actual hit or a smash. It's OK to put your positive energy out there, it's OK being proud of your work…That pressure that is put on by A&Rs, 'we need a hit, we need a smash' – get the hell out of here. You think that you could just go into a room and write a hit? I could write one when I leave this room on my way back home and don't even know it because it comes at the most random times. You have to listen when it feels good, when it feels right, music is not a science. When I wrote that album (Neon), I put all of that pressure away from me, I didn't think about it, I didn't care, I wrote music that felt good to me, that moved us, that when I play it with my people in a room or I go home and play it for my friends, they f**k with it, and that's the most important thing.
Having The Support of Cash Money: They're very rare…they let an artist be an artist. Drake does what he wants; he works with who he wants to work with. He's not forced to go into the studio with this producer because this producer had a hit with Jay Z, it don't work like that…If he wants to make a whole album with 40, go make it with 40. Nicki [Minaj], go do what you believe in, Wayne go work with who you wanna work with. Turn in the album when you wanna turn it in, it's your album, it's your piece of work. Three or fours years it took me to do this, not one time did Cash Money say to me, 'where's your album'. They just let me go through the vibe you know, it will be ready when it's meant to be ready. They just let me do me, and that doesn't exist much in this industry. Record companies will sign you because they feel like your dope, and they feel like they loved your showcase and they loved your mixtape, and they loved your demo, but the minute you get signed, 'go with this producer and that songwriter…because that songwriter had a hit with so and so'…All of a sudden your whole style is changed. Cash Money let me do me, and that's the most important thing.
Stand Out Records on 'Neon': "Mars" for sure is probably one of the songs I'm most proud of, we were just in the studio having fun, listening to some great old school R&B records. We were like man, this sh*t feels so good, let's do something like that. Where are those joints, like back in the day when I wanted to make a mixtape for my girlfriend?…so I was like, let's make one of those songs and that's how 'Mars' came about…I got to sing in a way that America hasn't really heard me sing before in my falsetto. "Guns and Roses" is a song that I'm particularly proud of, it's heartfelt, it's melodic, it's bittersweet, I actually did that one with Brian Kennedy; amazing producer. A song called "Neon" is probably one of my favorites too, it's powerful, it's epic, it's heartfelt.
Being Passionate About Music: There are people making music right now in their bedroom on their MPC or Garage Band, their taping themselves on Youtube and hoping they get a few views, they love music just as much as me, but I'm the one who got a chance to put it out to the world. I'm the one who gets a chance to make music videos, I'm the one he gets the chance for the whole world to hear my sh*t, so how can I not be passionate about that? How can I not be appreciate that? How can I not love every minute of being able to do that? What I don't love is the bullsh*t, I don't love the stuff that comes with the industry…An artist should be allowed to be an artist…There's too much pressure to conform to what's selling.
Memorable Moment: Of course nothing is going to top my No. 1. How do you beat a No. 1 Billboard? How do you beat that moment when your song is the biggest song in the United States? It was incredible that moment. I was something I would never forget. I got spoiled, like sh*t, came from England talking about breaking America, drop my first song, sh*t goes No. 1 Billboard..It was a crazy moment, and I'll always be grateful for that.
Jay Sean's new album 'Neon' is now in stores, grab it HERE.