The second a Lyfe Jennings track blazes, you’re immediately transcended into a socially conscious, thought baiting nirvana. The “Pretty Is” singer is a hybrid of mellow R&B sprinkled with conceptual genius, resonating with music enthusiasts, thanks to his vulnerability to expose life’s struggles atop complex melodies.
Since his 2004 debut single “Must Be Nice,” which peaked at #40 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, Jennings music has been a refreshing breath of air amidst shallow, repetitive radio tracks. The 41-year-old’s sixth effort, Tree of Lyfe, slated for a summer 2015 release, is signature Lyfe; delivering relatable lyrical content over smooth beats. The Toledo, Ohio native’s reign to R&B stardom bulldozes, but the road to success hasn’t always been hassle-free. Complete with arrests, jail stints and a public beef with K. Michelle, Jennings successfully turns his mess into a message.
His music proves the existence of the silver lining around life’s stormy clouds as fans get yet another dose of soul soothing tracks with another album. Here, Jennings talks the inspiration of his new joint “Pretty Is,” what separates him from other artists and the type of music he wants to make with Chris Brown. – Angela Wilson
VIBE Vixen: What was the inspiration behind your new album, Tree of Lyfe?
Lyfe Jennings: The inspiration behind it was like every other album; life and the things people don’t want to talk about or get the opportunity to talk about.
Why did you pick “Pretty Is” as the lead single?
I think there’s a lot of females out here dancing right now- it’s a hustle and you can’t discount the hustle, but I want them to hustle with some sense.
What sets you apart from other musicians, and what makes you different?
Most cats only talk about love, they don’t talk about the downside of love or relationships. My identity is more like a messenger more than anything else. I don’t think anybody has that swag about them.
What’s something you want to be remembered for?
Telling the people’s stories, not just my story but everybody’s story.
What is your story?
My story is one of becoming. Most guys talk about the end of it, how they’ve made it or are already accomplished. My story is I would love to accomplish that but I’m still going through sh*tin my life, but I’m still going in the right direction.
What would you consider your biggest flaw and how are you changing it?
My biggest flaw is focusing on negative situations. I’m trying to train my mind to ignore anything I don’t want or can’t have.
What was the best piece of advice you received and actually followed?
It wasn’t a straight piece of advice it was more like a story. In short, when I was little I was playing football around seven years old with a little girl and her dad was there. Everytime I threw her the ball she dropped it and everytime she threw me the ball I caught it. This happened 10 times straight. So I went to her dad and said, ‘I’m way better than she is because I caught it all 10 times and she dropped it all 10 times.’ He said, ‘Maybe you are better, or maybe you’re just better at catching and she’s better at throwing.’
That made me understand that anything you’re doing there’s always someone connected to it. Don’t think you’re better than anybody else or more talented, people have different talents. And you have to acknowledge their talents sometimes even before you acknowledge your own.
Who’s an artist you’ve never worked with but like to?
I would say Common or Chris Brown. Me and Common are kind of on the same page and whatever song we do would be more of an event than a song.
I like Chris Brown and I think he’s the greatest young cat out here doing it. Compiling our two styles together will give him permission to do something different from what he normally does.
Aside from your new album, what else can we expect from you this year?
You’ll probably see me on TV programs and I’m writing for other people. I’m always touring so you can catch me all year round.
Photo Credit: Will Sterling Photography