Gentlemen's Corner: Leigh Bush Talks New Name, Making Transparent Music, and Perfect Woman Qualities

Remember Sammie? The cute singer who was telling us the way he liked it. Now fast forward years later and the cute teen is now a handsome grown man who has gone through quite a bit of changes. He dropped his first name and morphed into Leigh Bush, a name derived from his middle and last name. “I feel like R&B is lacking substance, vulnerability, and passion and I wanted to bring that element back to R&B.

Vixens got a chance to talk to this music crooner (and he's an open book) about the change he wants to bring to R&B, his relationship status, and his current project Leigh Bush. Jump the page to read what Mr. Bush dished about.

Photo Credit: Sean Howard 

VIBE Vixen: What inspired the name change?
Leigh Bush: Leigh is my middle name, Bush is my last, and Sammie is my first. Tapping into some new sound sonically with content and decided to also leave the Sammie brand but expand on it. I don’t want people to think I’m just putting it to rest like that. I just thought it was all good for the change. Me and my team decided like a year ago to do it and it was just a matter of time of setting everything up and deciding exactly who Leigh Bush was going to be?

And who is Leigh Bush?
I feel like R&B is lacking substance, vulnerability, and passion and I wanted to bring that element back to R&B so that's him.

How are you going to do that?
The music speaks for itself. I didn’t create music specifically for the DJ's and the radio when I made this EP, I went in like a free spirit. Just getting back to if a record is 6 or 7 minutes long, let it rock, you don’t have to do it for 3 and a half just for radio, DJs, or airplay. No rules, really being vulnerable and honest. I always say the most vulnerable person we have is Drake and that’s in the hip-hop genre. People call him “emotional” but it cultivates to record sales. He creates relatable music, things that most men won't  say.

Like your track “Free Falling”?
Exactly. My manager Delonte Murphy was telling me about a relationship he was trying to get into and he felt he was on a different plateau like he was falling first and I told him, “jump and she’ll catch you.” I thought it was refreshing because in our generation men don’t fall in love first.

Why not?
Men run off pride, women run off emotions so if you love you love all the way. As to where if we want to love we start to analyze everything like “it’s too soon” or whatever excuse we trick our self out of. That’s why “Free Falling” connects to the women because they never heard a man say that.

Very true, I know you have your EP but are you expanding into an album?
Of course, its been a great plan thus far. The last Sammie project was Insomnia, my mixtape, which had over 500k downloads. I hope it will segway into the Leigh Bush Project which is currently on iTunes and the Leigh Bush Project Pt2 in March and then the album, which will hopefully be released by the third quarter of 2014.

How vulnerable are you going to get?
I’m just living life. With these records on this EP, like “Ms. Bartender” is about a man who has a problem staying faithful in a relationship–I’ve made mistakes of course with infidelity so I’m giving my life. Everything is like a real life situation from "Dancer" to "Passionately" to even “Free Falling”; and learning from somebody else's experience. So really just being honest. It’s good to keep mystique as a celebrity but more than ever now people appreciate transparency.

How different is this project and these upcoming projects going to be compared to when you first came out?
I have more freedom than I ever had as far as the creative control goes. When you’re signed to a major of course there’s a command that you have to abide by either A&R, VP, or the label. Now that I just had time to grow, mature, and live life also as an artist and songwriter, I’m able to be me and I think that’s something that the fans haven’t had. I could give you some of Sammie but I had to do what the label wanted me to do also. I’m my own boss and I’ve surrounded myself with a great team, I’m able to really give them my vision and go 110% strong with it.

Photo Credit: Sean Howard 

What’s the most personal story you’re going to tell?
I been in a relationship off and on for 3 years and this is the most open I’ve been. I’m 26 and to think that you’ve met the person you want to spend your forever with is a scary thing.

Is this person you want to spend your forever with?
There’s a lot that comes with fame. I wouldn’t say I have a girl problem but I love women, I think they’re amazing. I want the happily ever after but I think a lot is contingent on timing. I think one of the realest things Big Sean said was “what’s the perfect girl if it’s not the perfect time.” So I think I’ve met somebody who embodies everything I want my wife to have from spiritual belief to background foundation. She’s domesticated, she’s smart, pretty, and silly; she has all that.

What’s domesticated?
I’m a southern dude so I like a girl who can cook, fold your clothes, and hold you down while you’re gone on the road.

I was talking to my best friend and we were talking about that, because some females act like they’re too proud to play that role.
Yes and see I’m a mommas' boy so my mom was very nurturing so I love when a women does those things; I’m very appreciative of that. So domesticated doesn’t mean you’re my servant or anything, but you nurture your man and your man reciprocates that.

A lot of men grew up in broken homes, like me I grew up without my father in the home so most things I learned through trial and error. That’s not always the best way but I turned out pretty damn good. My mom is a strong woman. It starts with us, I wouldn’t say it’s women’s fault the way that the world is. It starts with men and then it’s a chain reaction.

And that’s what your music is going to embody?
Yeah. It’s all about substance, I wanted [my music] to be thought provoking. Like even with “Dancer” it’s not your typical twerk record. Is it love you’re seeking, or is it just for the dollar that makes you comfortable to do that, because I’m from Atlanta and that’s like strip club mecca.

So you’re an avid strip club goer?
I go not a lot though, it doesn’t do for me what it does to most men. But I have a lot of female friends who are dancers so that’s where the song derives from. This girl [I know] does it but she hates it. She has two degrees but the easy money is what keeps her going night after night. That’s what kind of provoked me to write the record.

In general whats a major turn on and turn-off about women?
I’m a spiritual being, I like positive vibes so I like a girl with a spiritual foundation and ambitious. I’m a dreamer, I don’t have normal goals at all, I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I like girls who have a free spirit and understand that with hard work anything can come true. I’m silly 85 to 90% of the time, so I like a girl that’s really relaxed and likes to have a good time and is spontaneous. Of course a girl that’s supportive because I have so many dreams and aspirations outside of music. When you have a significant other you appreciate that support system and know that you have at least one person is in your corner that believes in you.

Describe your perfect date night.
I like to go bowling a little tipsy. I don’t like to go to the movies on a first date because you can’t converse so I would like to go bowling. I read a lot so when I meet somebody and they can stimulate my mind it’s just a lot doper than just being cool and swagged out.

What’s one topic you can talk about besides music?
I love sports.

Does a girl need to be a sports fan?
She doesn’t have to be a sports fan but open to acting like it. On Sundays if she’s clueless, ask. I think it’s cute when a girl says “what’s first down”. I like when a girl technically doesn’t want to watch it but for my sake she’ll partake in it. It’s like a guy watching Lifetime with a girl. I can talk sports all day. I like to see where people derive from and where they’re headed.

Photo Credit: Sean Howard

Now that you’re back do you feel like there is competition with your return?
I mean the fans will always compare you to a Breezy [Chris Brown] or Trey [Songz] or Miguel, etc. I focus on Leigh Bush solely and creating my own lane and creating the best music I could possible create. I think at this time with r&b I hate to say it—I’m very competitive by the way, I don’t like to be compared to anybody and if I am, I like to demolish them. But I think at this time we need to all come together and make great music since it’s a dying genre. Hip-hop will always be the dominate genre but you’ve got country, pop, hip-hop, and r&b is struggling right now. I think it’s essential that individually we take responsibility to make the best music we can.

Yeah, but there are good R&B singers that aren’t getting a lot of love?
It’s tricky too because labels don’t even give us the budgets that the  hip-hop artist get and I hate that they force you to make club records. I still believe that ballads and mid-tempos can be major radio smashes but labels don’t want to spend that money on a ballad they rather hope the record catches on in the club and DJs. We’re in a tricky spot right now.

Is it about the #1 hits, or about how many people are affected?
For me it’s about touching the people, hits are going to come. I think hits also come and go. You can be hot for 3 to 6 months and that’s the end of that. I rather give you a body of work that touches the masses for 5, 10, 15 years as opposed to being hot for a season.

I know you don’t like to be compared but if you could be compared to a legend who would you want it to be?

I’m a big Usher fan. I think he created the blueprint for being a child star to the grown man that he is. He’s 35 and still highly relevant. He’s very multi-talented; not just on the stage but he has other things he endorses. I respect anybody that’s able to stay in this business as long as he has. R Kelly too, he’s the king of r&b because he’s so multi-faceted. When I do my research, of course Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

Photo Credit: Sean Howard

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Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

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Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

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aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

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Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

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