Jasmine V rakes in millions of views on YouTube not just off the strength of her mixed Filipina-Mexican beauty, but her singing prowess. Recognized as Justin Bieber’s leading lady in his 2010 breakout video “Baby,” the brunette belter has chalked up an adult’s worth of life experiences by the age of 20. The R&B/pop singer, hailing from San Jose, Calif. has churned out melodic earworms like “Hello”, “Invincible” and now, her Kendrick Lamar-assisted single “That’s Me Right There.” After sampling fame as a 7-year-old beauty queen at a local mall, Jasmine relocated to Los Angeles, booking modeling and commercial acting gigs before rocking the mic full-time. She was soon signed to Damon Dash at 12 following an impromptu street rendition of Frankie J’s “How To Deal.” After a few lukewarm releases and brief industry hiatus, Jasmine found herself coping with an abusive relationship, eventually turning her fame into a platform for domestic violence victims in the teary-eyed video for “Didn’t Mean It.” Now, she’s stomping back onto the scene in fresh Timbs with her That’s Me Right There EP (out today). As VIBE’s BIG Cosign artist for November, Jasmine reminisces on her industry beginnings, coping with Justin Bieber stans, her new project and possibly collaborating with former manager, boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. —Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)
VIBE:One of the earliest memories of your career in the public eye was singing the national anthem at Manny Pacquiao’s boxing matches. What launched your career in the entertainment business? Jasmine V: It’s funny because I’m originally from San Jose and my grandma put into me in a pageant when I was seven at like the local mall and that’s when I first knew I liked being in front of people. I wasn’t really shy. So, pageants slowly got into acting and modeling, so that’s when I moved out to L.A. to pursue acting and modeling. So I was doing all that and I did a couple of commercials and I did a few jobs here and there. I was walking down the street from my agency and some guy heard me singing Frankie J’s “How To Deal” and when he heard me singing he introduced me to a couple of people he knew in the music industry, I didn’t know much about it. I was only 11 at the time. I got to the lady who is still my manager to this day, it’s been about 10 years since she’s managed me, and I got signed to Damon Dash when I was 12. How was working with Dame Dash? It was definitely a new experience, especially being so young and not knowing anything about the music industry. So, when I worked with Damon Dash it was definitely one for the books. For someone to believe in me at 11, 12 years old is almost not heard of. So you know, he flew me out to New York for the first time where I would stay for a few weeks with my mother and we would record songs. It’s so crazy to look back at it now.
Who were your early influences? My influence growing up was like Michael Jackson. I loved Aretha Franklin because I used to sing her song “Respect” at like every talent show and I would win with it. Alicia Keys is my idol. I really look up to her, and definitely Beyoncé. Did you have a blueprint for success? Was anybody in your family in the entertainment business before you? No. My family was always musical though, but none of them made a career out of it. So fame didn’t scare you? No. I wasn’t scared. Especially my first big break was [singing the national anthem at a Clippers game, and I just remember wanting to get out there and be in front of so many people. Now that I’m older, I think about it more and I’m like “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.” How did I even relax back then? Another big opportunity came when you were in Justin Bieber’s video “Baby.” I was 16, that was so long ago! It’s so crazy. Were you two ever together at that point? Well yeah, I first met him on the “Baby” video. That’s when I first realized who he was. I didn’t know he had his own music at the time. I was more then honored to be in the video. [He was a] really nice kid. I ended up opening for him on his “My World” tour and yeah, we dated when we were younger, but we were so young and it was more work-related than anything. The only time I would see him was when I would perform. But we were still little, so it’s not something we can really take seriously. Do you ever text each other these days? No. Not really. I run into him every now and then and that’s when I’m able to be like, “Oh, congrats on everything.” How did you deal with the Beliebers because any girl next to Bieber equals an auto-attack on the Internet. When I would perform on tour [with him], I would get a couple of middle fingers here and there from some of the girls but it was just something I had to take in and realize that it’s going to happen regardless. I’m a girl. I was in the video. You can’t take it seriously. These people don’t know you personally. After a while I had to be able to laugh it off and just not let it get to me. It is crazy because they’re so dedicated and they love him so much so I totally understood. Being in the spotlight so young, do you regret any songs you’ve done in the past? I’ve never regretted any songs that I’ve done in the past. I’ve only regretted the songs that I’ve really loved and never put out, and now it’s kind of too late to put them out because they don’t make sense. I just go back and listen to them, and think, ‘Wow, this would’ve been a really great song to put out,’ but it’s a learning experience. Majority of my fans are girls, so a lot of the songs I recorded when I was younger were about falling in love, being heartbroken, and girl empowerment. I feel like a lot of them are probably outdated. //www.youtube.com/embed/BI-XFaU8_Xk You recently opened up about being in an abusive relationship. What inspired you to take a stand against domestic violence? When that whole thing happened, I just wanted to be a voice for young girls and be that shoulder to lean on because I didn’t have one when I was in my situation. Nobody knew and I knew if I would’ve just said something, I would have had so many supportive people, like my parents, my brothers and my team around me, but I didn’t have the courage. I wanted to be the courage for these girls that didn’t know how to say anything so I was like, ‘You know what? It was unfortunate that I went through it. But I can take this negative and turn it into a positive, and hopefully help younger girls or even boys, because it happens to boys as well.’ And when I put the video out and put the number for the domestic violence hotline at the end, calls increased by like 60 percent. You also had a savior. Yeah. Towards the end of me in that relationship, I just remember being so upset. I was tired of where I was, even in that relationship and in life in general. I had just turned 18; I didn’t know what was going to be happening. I wasn’t signed to anybody. Everything was just piling on me. I was going through problems with my ex-boyfriend and this guy I’d never seen before could see me crying from a window. He just whispered to me, ‘Are you okay?’ And I just looked at him and was like, ‘No, I’m fine. I’m fine.’ He was my courage that I didn’t have. He ended up calling the cops for me. That was the last time that I had to deal with that in that relationship. What’s crazy is I’ve never seen him again after. If I did have a chance to see him, I would tell him thank you. With this new EP, do you going to revisit some of those feelings from that relationship? I kind of closed that chapter in my life. It’s been a few years, and me and him don’t talk anymore and we leave it that way. But I want to start fresh and be able to channel the emotions I’m going through now. Being single again, I don’t have a boyfriend and just figuring out what I want to do with my life, you know, being a young girl. You’re going to fall in love and then break up and date, and be heartbroken. I want to be able to channel all of those emotions and have fun and have all these girls listen to the song and be like, ‘Wow. I’m going through that. How did she know?’ Speaking of dating and relationships, do you think social media makes it harder or easier to find the right person? Social media makes things a lot harder. Because nowadays you have people that just make a fake profile with a really hot guy or a really hot girl, and you think that it’s really them and then you get Catfished. You find out way more stuff when it’s on social media. Social media is a lot harder than actually going out, getting off your phone, walking out the door and being social. I’d rather meet a guy in person and have him like me for me, then have him like me with Instagram filters because all that stuff is kind of deceiving. If you meet somebody in person and they learn to fall in love with you, your voice, your face and your personality rather than your text messages, your pictures on Instagram or your tweets, it will work out way better. Do you ever feel like you have to tone yourself down on Instagram because so many young girls look up to you? It is hard. A lot of my fans are younger than me so I always make sure I don’t post anything or tweet anything that’s crazy. Sometimes I am crazy—not really, just kidding. But it’s more so out of respect. Not everybody’s going to agree with you at the end of the day, so it’s like even if I don’t dress in a certain way that offends people, there’s going to be something else in the picture that they’re going to find that they don’t like. And it’s going to happen all the time; you can’t please everybody. But it’s a level of respect, not only for people, but also for yourself. Do you feel the same way about your music? Yes, definitely. I want people to relate to it and I want the parents of these kids to be like ‘That’s somebody you should look up to,’ rather than ‘You can’t listen to this,’ or ‘She does this, and she does that.’ For your most recent single, “That’s Me Right There,” what was the motivation behind that? I was actually in a relationship at the time when I recorded that song so it was definitely relatable to me because I was able to be like, ‘That is my man.’ I’m not insecure. I know that he got me and I got him. So at the end of the day, you could be over there at a party with a whole bunch of girls and I could be chilling and I know that nobody can love you like I can. You also have Kendrick on there, who has been M.I.A., working on his new album. How were you able to get in contact with him? Well, I saw him in the studio and I got to meet him. He’s such a humble person and a great guy, and the fact that I got him on my record thanks to my team, I was super excited. I was actually stunned because it’s like, Wow. Kendrick. You’re definitely in tune with hip-hop. Do you feel like that’s the direction you’re going in with your music? Yes, it’s definitely a mixture of that, pop and dance music. I have a song on my EP that has a little bit of a Spanish vibe, so I want to be able to make different kinds of music but have it all tie in together. I have collaborations with Jeremih, Problem and Ne-Yo. Now you were once managed by boxing champ, Manny Pacquaio. Is there any chance you will be doing a collaboration with him in the future? Oh my God, if that could happen, that would be amazing! Maybe in the future if we could make that happen that would be awesome. //www.youtube.com/embed/8tEyAAniu5U