Gentleman’s Corner: Jesse Boykins III Talks ‘Purpose or People,’ Romanticism and the Reemergence of Quality Music

“If you’re feeling alright, say Schwaza,” a fluffy-maned and wide-grinned Jesse Boykins III instructs a swaying crowd at SoHo’s Apple store. “I can’t hear you. Say it louder,” he repeats, unsatisfied by their response. “Say Schwaza!” As defined by him, Schwaza is “an amazing occurrence that leaves you with a lack of words to express the gravity of the moment, exceptional, excellent, of high quality.”

A life high, in other words, which perfectly describes Boykins in the prime of his electric performance. You watch him—adorned in garbs easily considered a thrifter’s treasure—zig zagging across the stage, singing about life and love. Jesse’s free-flowing ‘fro, love-laced lyrics and wooing vocals can trick even the most ice-hearted into pursuit of romance. He dances from the mic standing next to his playful band members, then to the roaring audience and back to the mic stand, carrying the joy and positive energy of his musical high—his Schwaza—with him.

It’s all fitting. The beginning of his year was spent racking up passport stamps on an international tour, recording (and then releasing) his 13-track EP P.O.P [Purpose or People] and readying all the bells and whistles on his next album, Love Apparatus. While his album’s been four year in the works and a release date ceases to exist, he’s not rushing. Boykins insists on quality over quantity; why churn out the goods unless they’re perfect?

Before rocking the stage, VIBE Vixen caught up with the cool crooner and chatted about the creative direction of his newest projects, the women that make him smile, and why he’s in good musical company. —Stacy-Ann Ellis