Jacquees spoke his whole life into existence. He remembers singing in front of his classmates as a key turning point towards a musical career. “I started singing when I was 9-years-old,” he tells KAZI Magazine. “You know, getting into the talent shows at my school.” Even back then, he was determined to live out his dream (while honoring a promise that he made to his mother), and he never had a backup plan. In fact, that one moment proved to be a morale booster for the young scribe, inching him that much closer to his ultimate goal: making it as a singer.
He went on to do just that.
He’s been releasing music for over a decade now since signing his first record deal at the age of 14. So far, it’s worked out for him. His breakout hit “B.E.D.,” which appears on his debut album, 4275, is double-platinum, he’s declared himself the King of R&B and received co-signs from Atlanta greats like Young Thug, Trae Young and Rich Homie Quan. (Ironically, RHQ’s dad introduced Jacquees to Birdman, which was revealed during an interview with SPIN a few years back.)
Not to mention, Jacquees is committed to being vulnerable, showing signs of that vocal dexterity and romantic storytelling that has made R&B one of the most commercially successful genres in the modern music industry.
When he sings, his heart-on-sleeve lyrics deliver a relatable feeling. His songs are like unabashed celebrations of Black love, deeply rooted in glimpses of introspection that speak to what he represents – a R&B n—a from the eastside of Atlanta. His signature braggadocio (something that’s commonly found in hip-hop) shines through in his approach to work with a clear head and an impassioned heart as he’s owee’d his way into the forefront of modern R&B.
This month’s Sincerely For You LP – Jacquees’ third studio album in the last eight years – was years in the making. The 17-track project is a tangled mix of moments (on and off the internet) that have helped the Cash Money crooner develop a sense of emotional maturity. He takes on a selfless role throughout, helping fans see themselves through his mistakes. “I rarely like to depend on people because I don’t like to get let down,” he admits.
Songs like “Stay There” are a true calling card for how the 28-year-old version of Jacquees deals with disappointment: he doesn’t. At first listen, it sounds like he’s taken advice from Future – the Grammy-winning rapper who was recruited to executive produce his little brother’s third opus, marking Future’s second EP credit earned this year following Kanye West’s Donda 2 back in February. But a closer examination reveals that he’s just as problematic, especially when it comes to relationships, or at least that was the case.
These Days, the King of R&B for millennials is hard at work becoming the best version of himself. He’s easily regarded as one of the key acts of the last decade, reimagining love (on his own terms) while establishing his dominance in the game. By most metrics – charting on the Billboard Hot 100, multi-platinum hits, earning the respect of his contemporaries – he’s considered R&B’s secret weapon. And the genre has changed. It means something different, but the actual feeling of it, the wondrousness of love, is alive and well – and Rodriquez Jacquees Broadnax is living proof.
He’s been grinding for the same amount of time it’s taken James Cameron to make the second Avatar movie (which is rumored to be 13 years), and he’s always stayed true to himself – a perpetual feeling that’s carried him through: “I’ma make the game accept me for who I am.”
Last Thursday, before the clock struck 12 and Jacquees turned the page on a new chapter in his evolution as a man, artist and everything in between, KAZI Magazine spoke to R&B’s sovereign leader about his Sincerely For You album, how the project is bringing fans closer to his vision of love, giving Dreezy her flowers and how he’s been able to reinvent himself after all these years.
How did you first get started with music?
Jacquees: I started singing when I was 9-years-old. You know, getting into the talent shows at my school. I was building my confidence as a singer young. And um… I got my first deal when I was 14. Grinding through Atlanta, you know what I’m sayin’. Went through some different situations with different people. Signed to Cash Money (Records) in 2014. Previously, before that, I was just dropping mixtapes, getting myself hot in the streets; YouTube; passing out my CDs. Just tryna go viral early when YouTube was the biggest outlet, Worldstar Hip-hop, the whole nine. Just doing all of that – the come up, man. Signed to Cash Money, dropped my first album in 2018 and here we are today, my third album, 2022. I haven’t dropped an album in three years. My last album was ‘King of R&B’ in 2019.
Are you just as impassioned about doing song covers as you are about creating original music?
Jacquees: I won’t call ‘em song covers ‘cause I’m not just singing what they sing. I’m actually remixing. I’m on like some jacking for beats type shit, you know what I’m sayin’: I’m taking a song and making it my own. So, I definitely put my heart into anything that I do. Anything that say “Jacquees” on it, I’ma give it my all.
When it comes to jacking beats, how do you decide which song to remix?
Jacquees: It’s really just records that I like. I listen to the radio a lot. I don’t know, it’s just a feeling. You know, those (Quemixes) were just a lot of the songs I was liking, artists that I’m a fan of.
What about that “feeling” made you want to pursue a career in music?
Jacquees: This was always my dream as a child. I told my momma we was gon’ make it. I told her I was gon’ make it as a singer, so I kept my word. I just put my all into it as a singer, so my mom, she always supported me the whole way. She always made me believe I could do it. And I believe that’s what got me to this point.
Have you always had a strong support system?
Jacquees: I always had a strong support system – my momma, my sisters, auntie, grandma, uncle, everybody, cousins… my friends. My village is crazy. And everybody supported me. I stood on their shoulders to get where I am.
Is there anything about music in particular that made you cling towards R&B? For the most part, it’s a vulnerable genre.
Jacquees: I just love to make music. And like you say, the vulnerability… comes from my feelings – just me as a person. I feel like when you create, you gotta give it, you. I always was a fan of the artists that went by their real names – like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Jacquees. You give the real. I don’t know, that’s just my standpoint on it. Making music was just always something I wanted to do and I knew that if I wanted to do it, I had to be honest. Of course, when you start out young, you with a lot of different songwriters and you not really catching your own drift. But I feel like once I turned… 16, really 19, that’s when I started finding my own wave and really being able to talk for myself. I feel like (me being vulnerable) always showed in the music. I’ve always been kind of vulnerable in my music. I was kind of tough (for a little bit) but now, as a grown man, I’m bringing it back to the love side of things.
As the self-proclaimed King of R&B, can you give me a rundown of the essential qualities of a true R&B record?
Jacquees: It gotta make people feel good. It gotta hit your soul. My boy said something to me today like, ‘Man, this right here – it gave me chills.’ It gotta be something like that. It gotta be a feeling. It gotta hit you a certain way. R&B can make you dance; it can make you move; it can make you remember something crazy. It’s all a feeling. It just gotta have that feeling.
This time around with Sincerely For You, what are you trying to make people feel?
Jacquees: With ‘Sincerely For You,’ I’m just aiming for people to respect the craft; respect the work ethic; respect the music. Just know that I’m a real, true R&B artist – not a joke. It’s not a game. This the real thing. I know people make jokes a lot of times and different things like that but I just want people to know, ‘He might laugh and joke but he’s the real deal.’
And he might be getting a bag, but “16-25” is your generation, right. You’re the King.
Jacquees: [Laughs] That’s funny, man. [Keith Sweat] is my guy – that’s my OG.
Not to mention, he’s featured in your “Say Yea” music video. Was that a full-circle moment for you?
Jacquees: Oh yeah, definitely. Even when that happened, he took it from an OG standpoint, so he never rained on my parade. He just explained to me some things that I needed to know, and from there we formed a relationship that lasts forever. I talk to him almost every week. That’s my dawg, I got a lot of love and respect for him.
I’d imagine that you have the same level of respect for another legend in the game, Future – your big bro. Earlier this year, during an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, you revealed that he’s the executive producer on your new project. Can you talk about the nature of that relationship?
Jacquees: I’ve known Future for years. We both from the same side of town in Atlanta – the east side. I was basically in Miami one day playing my album and Future just so happens to be there. One thing turned into another and he ended up telling Birdman that he could executive produce my album. And we started working on it last year and here we are today, getting ready to drop at midnight. I definitely appreciate Future ‘cause I know how much he mean to the culture and the work he done put in over the years. It just mean a lot for him to be a part of (my album). And then, it’s R&B – Future a rapper. And you know, my flavor, I grew up around all the rappers. I really love it because it let people know who I really am. Like what I really stand for – my presence. I wanna be represented that way. I just wanna represent where I’m from.
If anyone is a fan of Future, it’s me. But what the hell does he know about R&B?
Jacquees: Man, listen to his records, he know a lot about it. He got a musical ear. This the thing, being in the studio with Future, I ain’t never been in the studio with nobody like that. The melodies and different stuff he come up with, it’s just crazy watching him. Having a conversation with him and then watching him record – I see why they call bruh “The Wizard.” He’s truly talented. It’s always dope to work with other talented people.
Is there any part of Future’s wizardry that resonated with you the most?
Jacquees: I take a lot of stuff from bro. I was just with ‘em two days ago. You know, I’m the lil’ bro so I’m always watching. I’m always tryna learn something new, and I don’t mind saying that, too. A lot of people don’t like to say certain stuff, but me, I’ma always keep it real. I’m pretty sure we learn stuff from each other.
After 14 years in the music business, what’s the biggest lesson you learned so far?
Jacquees: The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is to stay humble. Staying humble and staying true, that’s the biggest thing – that’s it.
When people like Irv Gotti refer to Cash Money as the “greatest label ever,” is it hard to practice humility?
Jacquees: I mean, it make me feel good. I always wanted to be a part of Cash Money since I was a kid. I feel like I spoke my whole life into existence. I feel like my power of the tongue super strong. I had a Cash Money chain when I was like five or six. It was fake, but I got the real one around my neck now. I spoke all this stuff to happen, you know. God is good. I’m a strong believer in God, so I prayed on it and it happened. So, when people speak big about anything that got something to do with me, I feel good about it.
Faith is the foundation of success. Do you feel that’s what has carried you through?
Jacquees: Of course, what else? I can’t do it on my own. Faith and hard work. You gotta work hard, too. You can’t just be praying. You gotta pray and put in the work, so that’s what I do. That’s what I did.
Any expectations about how this project will perform? Your debut album (4275) peaked at No.3 on the Top R&B Albums chart.
Jacquees: I just wanna go up. I just want my fans and everyone else to love the music. I expect to get all my old fans and a lot of new fans. Of course, I wanna chart; I wanna do numbers; I wanna do all that, but that’s up to the people. Hopefully, the people support it. And I’m sure they will – I have a very strong fanbase, Team Jacquees. It’s organic, too. It ain’t made up on the internet. We started outside. We ain’t got no machine doing fake numbers and all that. You know, I had some success with my first album – my first album went gold. Hopefully, this album right here will go platinum. That’s what we praying for, that’s what we putting the work in for, so I’m pretty sure we’ll end up with the trophy.
Have you changed your approach with Sincerely For You, or are you picking up where Jacquees left off on King of R&B?
Jacquees: I’m reinventing myself. Reinventing myself from the hair to the music. Everything is new – a brand new Jacquees. It’s a classic Jacquees style, of course, but it’s different. The conversation, the melodies, harmonies, tone, everything different. It’s on another level. I feel like everything is where it needs to be. I feel like everybody finna love this [album]. The records we been putting out so far been getting great responses. I dropped four singles, all four of ‘em going up – ain’t seen nothing bad ‘bout one of ‘em yet. So, that’s always good to see and hear. I’m expecting the same thing for all 17 of these songs.
With you being credited as the creative director on your new project, do you ever feel overwhelmed being so involved throughout, from start to finish?
Jacquees: I’m always involved in my projects. Anything you see – all my videos, I’m directing (along with the director’s, of course), but I’m coming up with concepts and everything. I started off like this, before I had a deal, so I never wanna stop what I’m doing when I get a deal. I feel like all the greats keep doing what they doing even when they walk into another situation that’s to help them. You gotta keep doing what you doing.
People tend to fallback once they get what they’re asking for. What do you think of that?
Jacquees: Right, and they start depending on people. You can never start depending on people. Just keep it how you got it. I rarely like to depend on people because I don’t like to get let down. I always like to depend on myself. I can count on my moms, though [laughs].
Your situation with Dreezy ended in a very public manner. Now that you’ve had time to reflect, are you enjoying the bachelor’s life?
Jacquees: I’m just going through the motions. I’m 28, single, I’ve dibbled and dabbed. When it’s time for me to settle down and have kids, it’s gon’ be the perfect time.
From the tabloids to your album releasing at midnight, how did you mend that relationship in enough time to clear her verse?
Jacquees: I mean, you gotta think about it, we stars – our life in front of the cameras. You might have an argument with your girl, she might tweet something about it and nobody will see it because y’all not famous (no disrespect), you dig what I’m sayin’. But then y’all might get back cool the next second after y’all done all this stuff for the media. So, that’s kind of the life celebrities live. You might see something on the internet that blew up but these folks out chillin’, watching TV. 9 times out of 10 that’s how my life went. Dreezy super talented. She actually wrote a record on this album, too – along with the feature that she did. She’s a super talented songwriter. You know, I wanna give her credit, she’s super dope with the pen. The record that we got on here, I know the fans gon’ love it. And we did the record probably last year. We been holding the record for so long, but since I haven’t dropped an album since 2019, a lot of my best records (and this was one of my best ones) were with Dreezy on it.
When you’re working on an album and still finding time to record new music, how would you describe the process behind selecting what to keep or toss?
Jacquees: The process is really about what flows and matches. We might do a lot of records but some records sound like they go together. And I think that’s really how we do it. We might have 100 songs but it might be 10 or 17 of ‘em that sound like they just need to be together. You might have another 50 of ‘em that need to be together, know what I’m sayin’. We just pair ‘em by subject matter and what flows – try to create a lil’ story with it.
While you’re creating this story, how are you bringing fans closer to your vision of love?
Jacquees: Through the music. Through me personally. I feel like this album is sincerely for my fans. Of course, the music I make for them is for them each and every time, that’s why I am who I am. I’m spreading my thought of love through the music.