A Short Convo With… Jill Scott


2010 may turn out to be a career year for the irrepressible Jill Scott. The critically-acclaimed vocalist is set to co-headline a much anticipated tour with platinum crooner Maxwell, which will kick off in May. There’s her starring role in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, Too? a film sequel that’s managed to sidestep lukewarm reviews by raking in more than $30 million over the weekend—$5 million more than initial estimates. And then there’s Scott’s upcoming album The Light of The Sun, a summer project that she calls her most experimental and sensual album to date. But lately it seems the veteran performer has been grabbing just as many headlines for her candid views on everything from interracial marriage to her dislike for T-Pain’s Auto-Tune contingent. As usual, Scott doesn’t fail to disappoint.

VIBE: Tyler Perry is quite the polarizing figure when it comes to critics and movie fans. What do you think has been his overall impact?
Jill Scott: Tyler gives all of us a real opportunity to be people. Just people, not particularly Black people. You see the color of us, the shape of us, the size of us, you see all of those things. You see the entire entity. And I appreciate that. Maybe not in everything, but the [Why Did I Get Married films] allowed us to be shown just as couples going through some stuff. You can be any race in the same roles and it wouldn’t really matter. We are discussing marriage. We just so happen to be Black.

You’ve been pretty up front about your apprehensive view of marriage following your divorce and broken engagement. Did you use any of that emotional turmoil for the Why Did I Get Married films?
During the first film, I was going through a divorce. So, yes, you use everything in your life as an actor. That’s our job, as crazy as it is, to use our experiences just to make the scene work. I’m a method actor as well as a method singer. Whatever it takes, it really doesn’t matter.

What’s been most surprising about recording your new album?
Making this album has been very freeing because I normally labor over what I say and how I say it. I think it could be the time in my life; it could be my son… I don’t know, but there are things coming out of my mouth. I’m like, Hey! There are some catch phrases that I know women and men are going to use. I like this energy. I’m on a little more rock this time. There is some swag up in there and some sensuality that even makes me blush [Laughs].

Wow, Jilly from Philly is getting it in, huh?
Well, I listened to some things a few days ago and I was like, “I can’t believe I just said that!” Like I said, I’m a method vocalist. So sometimes in the course of the record, I even have to drink a little more [Laughs] to get a little loose. I don’t know what I’m going to say, but I want to say it. There’s a bubbling in my gut to speak. This is the project that really defines who I am as a person. 

You started off as a poet in Philadelphia in the early ’90s and you’ve also dabbled in writing rhymes. Do you find yourself breaking into a spontaneous freestyle when you’re alone at the house?
[Laughs] We do freestyle in the studio. It’s not something I would share with everybody. Sometimes I come off the head. But I’m not an MC. I’m a poet and a vocalist. But I have to add that I’m ready to hear some real MCs. Please, I beg of you. Just say something, give me a story. It can’t all be about money and women. That’s why I love what Jay Electronica is doing. He is so fresh with the lyrics. He is the truth. —Keith Murphy