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If you want to hear a song about “ghetto love,” Jaheim is your man. Although on his fourth album, “The Makings of a Man,” which is scheduled for release on December 18th, the Jersey singer has left his heart in the ghetto and is all grown up.
Having recently turned 30 year old, many aspects of Jaheim’s life have changed. “The Makings of a Man” will be released under Warner Bros. subsidiary label, Atlantic Records, instead of its parents company Waner. Also, a bulk of the album’s material was written and recorded following a serious car accident that miraculously Jaheim was able to walk away from unharmed.
During an interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Jaheim steps inside the booth to talk about his musical evolution “out of the ghetto,” being on bed rest in the studio following his accident, and what skill he’d never admit he possesses.
Listen to the Interview
Jaheim Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an artist who has defined ‘ghetto love classics,’ and on December 18th, he will release his brand new album “The Makings of a Man.” Please welcome Jersey Native, Jaheim. How you doin’?
Jaheim: Hey what’s goin’ on, Z?
DJ Booth: After “Ghetto Love,” “Still Ghetto,” and “Ghetto Classics,” what has made you decide to not only drop ghetto from the title but form the content of the album?
Jaheim: I’m thirty years of age now, and there comes a time in a man’s life where you have to leave the games alone, the little things that hold you back, that hinders you. I’m always gonna be from the ghetto; I’m always gonna have that in my soul. But I’m thirty, so there are a lot of things that got to change. I changed labels first, I’m still in the Warner Group, I’m on Atlantic Records now and that’s a beautiful thing! That was the first change; the second initial change was me realizing who I am and what I was called to do here on Earth: make beautiful music.
DJ Booth: I know that after I listen to the album, it’ll be clear to me what has made you into a man, but for the sake of our interview, what one factor more than any other, Jaheim, helped mold you into the grown man I’m catching up with today?
Jaheim: We evolve naturally – I know I do. There wasn’t one thing that made me wanna change; I just changed naturally. I realized that I’m thirty this year and a lot of things have to change. You get stubborn when you get old, so I told myself when I turned thirty, it was gonna be a different me – a healthier me, a better Jaheim, givin’ my fans the best that I can do, and, a lot of changes within. So, all the fun and games is over.
DJ Booth: One of the biggest problems that listeners often find with an artist’s material is the lack of a connection. So often the content of a song fails to realistically match the realities of our everyday lives. In a quote from your bio, you stated, “There’s a song on here for everybody.” What makes you so sure of that?
Jaheim: I mean, that’s the way I design it; it’s alike a custom suit. You got categories of people out there: you have your people who love sex, you have your people who love things evolved through sex, people that love Christian music, people that love R&B music, hip hop music, so there’s gonna be a “feel” in the field for everyone. Man, I love it – there’s gonna be something on this album that’s gonna change some people out there; it’s gonna make them wanna step up and fly right.
DJ Booth: Between now and your last album, “Ghetto Classics,” you were in a car accident that miraculously you were able to walk away from without any harm. Six years ago, I too was in a pretty serious car accident, and I also walked away without an injury. The accident made me realize how little in life we can take for granted. What did you come away from the accident thinking?
Jaheim: That’s what really woke me up, too – it really, really woke me up. God gave me another chance to walk, to feel, to smell, to see, to hear, to talk. Life is serious; you can’t take that for granted.
DJ Booth: Following the accident, did you go back into the studio and rework some material or record new material-
Jaheim: Oh, I went right back into the studio. In fact, I was on bed rest in the studio.
DJ Booth: That’s convenient. I glanced at the track listing for “Makings of a Man,” and we’re gonna jump “Into the Mix” now. It’s a series of questions about some of those songs. First one is “Lonely.”
Jaheim: Well, if she thinks you’re lonely now, just wait until tonight! [laughter] You heard the song before, right?
DJ Booth: Mm-hmm.
Jaheim: Kind of a song that we twisted around, with new lyrics. Same track, same feel, just a different approach to it.
DJ Booth: Let’s also talk about “Make a Wish.” The song is interesting because everybody has that one wish they hope comes true. So why don’t you divulge one wish that, over your lifetime, has come true?
Jaheim: See, now you startin’ to get it. There’s a song on this album for everybody. “Make a Wish” is about that special person in your life, male or female; you take the song how you wanna take it. And you’re caterin’ to your love life, your soulmate. You’re makin’ that day a memory to never forget.
DJ Booth: What is one wish, you made over your lifetime, that has since come true?
Jaheim: Well, I didn’t make any wishes come true; God makes ‘em all come true. The wish that he gave me was to be here, doin’ what I do now, makin’ people feel good.
DJ Booth: Lead single on the project, “Never,” so we’re gonna play a game called the Never Game. I’m gonna make a statement; you just fill in the end. I never leave the house without…
Jaheim: Money in my pocket.
DJ Booth: I’d never be caught wearing…
Jaheim: That’s a hard one. I’d never be caught wearin’ shorts in the winter time.
DJ Booth: I never like to eat…
Jaheim: I never like to eat anything that bleeds in seven days and don’t die.
DJ Booth: I’d never admit that…
Jaheim: I never admit that I’m a hell of a basketball player.
DJ Booth: Okay; maybe we need to get on the court sometime, play 21.
Jaheim: That’s it??
DJ Booth: Well, for the “I Never” questions.
Jaheim: Oh, okay.
DJ Booth: Two collaborators on the new album, R&B legend in their own right: Babyface and R. Kelly. If you could choose one song from their massive individual catalogs, that when you heard it for the first time you thought, “Man, I could give this the nice Jaheim touch,” which would it be?
Jaheim: Does it have to be Babyface or R. Kelly?
DJ Booth: You could pick any R&B legend.
Jaheim: The O’Jays, “Climbing the Stairway to Heaven.”
DJ Booth: That’s a Jaheim classic right there if you were able to touch that first?
Jaheim: Oh, I would’ve touched that up – man, what a wonderful world this would be.
DJ Booth: Not too late to call them up and see if you can’t get the rights to redo that one.
Jaheim: That’s true, ‘cause me and Gamble, we’re great friends.
DJ Booth: Since the release of your 2001 debut, “Ghetto Love,” you’ve gotten the opportunity to go to a lot of cool places, meet a lot of cool people, and do a lot of cool things. So, Jaheim, what is the best perk you’ve enjoyed courtesy of your success as an artist?
Jaheim: I’ve enjoyed the loyalness, and all my fans’ love, all the support. Whether it was 500,000 or the 1.9 [million] that we sold – you know, just the love, reachin’ out and connecting with that audience, just knowing that we have real people on our side.
DJ Booth: Definitely. It’s nice to know you have a good fan base. Jaheim, give everybody a website or Myspace page so they can find out more about what you have goin’ on. Of course, the new album, “The Makings of a Man,” dropping on December 18th.
DJ Booth: Sounds great. Jaheim, I appreciate you taking the time to join me inside the DJ Booth, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck.
Jaheim: All right, Z. You a good fella, man.