Your single, You, earned you a lot of fame. What do you think it is about the song that made it pop?
I think the fact that it was so popular in the 80s and I think we changed it around to make it our own. The original was ‘I know this much is true’, mine was ‘Imma playa dat is true
But I change da game for you’.
As far as the rest of the album, how would you personally sum it up?
It created more of a popular sound. Any song on it is my favorite but I think the perfect example of it would be the song You. It had a very Hip Hop feel but it’s very melodic and the way we mixed it was very unique.
Did your New York label affiliation influence you from a music standpoint or do you feel that you are purely a Southern artist?
I’m completely Southern, man. If anything it made me even more Southern. I think Southern music is different because we show a lot of love to each other. Everyone is very supportive of one another and we always work together. Like Rick Ross and Young Jeezy or T.I. are on the same track and it’s really cool.
You integrate a lot of dance moves into your stage routine. Is this your own unique quality or do you feel that any R&B singer should also be a talented dancer?
I think everybody can’t do the same. I am just a big fan of old school performance [style]. I just know how people liked Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Michael Jackson and maybe even Bobby Brown. I think that if you have a chance to see someone who is an all-out entertainer all wrapped in one it’s better.
Do you enjoy studio work or stage performance more?
I enjoy the whole process. See ideas come to live in a studio and I like to see people’s reactions in the audience. It’s pure energy. I like to do cool things to involve the crowd in my shows so noone knows what’s gonna happen next. So its pretty much incredible man.
How much of your creative process is involved in lyricism and how much in the sounds of music itself?
I think it’s 50/50. half of the time is dedicated to coming up with the cool sounds, drum patterns and stuff and the other half is coming up with the best lines to compliment the music. That’s the cool thing about music. You can write the song first and then find a beat that’ll compliment the song or hear the sound first and then write the song. We just kinda experiment and try different things.
What type of a fan is your favorite?
Someone who really enjoyed the show and lets it be known. Other than that I just like diversity in that position. I love the people who’ve been with me since day 1, since I was a little kid and are still there for me.
Do you have a lot of people who’ve been with you for a long time?
Yeah, I check my MySpace and its crazy. The people have been following me for so long and now I am different, better. I’ve grown and they are there for me still and fully appreciate it.
Do you integrate social issues into your music or do you feel that your music is more for entertainment purposes?
I think the cool thing about making music is there are no limits. Sometimes I do feel like expressing my feelings and emotions. Sometimes I go and I make a present day conscious song about things. Its just the reality to me that I have to speak about, because music is an expression of self. I like to talk about what I go through and what my family goes through. For example Katrina, I would incorporate that.
You grew up in Georgia, but were born in New Orleans. Were you personally affected by the Katrina tragedy?
Definitely. My family is still there. Most of them had to flee and they came to stay with me for a little while. Imagine having 15 people in my 2-bedroom apartment. The cool thing I learned from that is that we might have lost all material things but we still had each other.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I just want to tell America that its because of you that I live my dreams. Also that you can’t be afraid to be creative and open in your thoughts and ideas through music. You try to set the trend and then follow it. People got to understand change, understand us, the youth.