If you are searching for a smooth R&B album to spice up your iPod, you must add The Soul Renaissance LP by J. Hollins. J. Hollins, a Chicago native, has been compared to the likes of John Legend and Anthony Hamilton, but it is clear that he has a style all of his own. The Soul Renaissance LP is more than a sultry romantic mix of tracks, it is a biographical sketch of a young man’s journey to become a grown man. JohnSimonDaily caught up with J. Hollins to discuss his current release.
JSD: How did you get your start in the music business?
J. Hollins: I have been singing since I could talk, but I got my start as the lead singer of a local group in Chicago. We were discovered by a rep from MCA back when MCA existed. They signed us and we started working on an album. They folded; we got shuffled over to their parent company, which was Universal at the time. By the time we got over to them, we all just went in different directions. One guy is doing Gospel, the other guy went into real estate, and I didn’t know what I wanted after that. But luckily it all came back around to this, about a year later. So that is how I actually got my start.
JSD: Who are some of your music influences?
JH: I would say my biggest one, hands down, you wouldn’t know it from listening to the type of music that I do, but my biggest one is Jimi Hendrix. Just because Jimi did it his way; everything he did musically was from the heart. I’m the same way. I would say my biggest, over all artistically, is Jimi Hendrix. Who I look up to performance wise and vocally would be guys like Gerald Levert, Eddie Levert, Teddy Pendergrass. Those guys, who have voices similar to mine, in a tenor dominated market. You know, most R&B soul singers you hear are clear Tenors; there aren’t that many Baritones out there. So I tend to look to those guys who kind of do it the way that I do it, for inspiration.
This is the EPK to J Hollins’ Soul Renaissance LP.
JSD: How did you come up with the title “The Soul Renaissance” for your album?
JH: A lot of people would say it is because of the music, but really, in all honesty, that really had nothing to do with it. If you listen to the LP, it really is my relationship life with women on record. It tells the tale of young man growth process into becoming a grown man. So to do that, you have to go through a sort of renaissance of mind, body, and soul. So I dropped the mind, body thing off and kept the soul renaissance. That is really where the title came from.
JSD: You wrote majority of the songs on this project. Please tell me about how the following songs came about:
JH: I was actually going through that, at the time I wrote that record. It is kind of funny because the guy who produce that, we’ve known each other since we were twelve. We use to play ball together, like football and do all types of crazy things together, but we built a working relationship when I became an independent artist. He knew what I was going through. He sent me this track and I was just kind of like (sigh) I really don’t want to put my private life on record. He was like “Naw, man, let the pain out.’ That is where that record came from. I was actually living that record at the time and that record I actually recorded it in one take. I was really in that zone and feeling that way. I had messed up really bad and yeah (laugh), yeah (laugh).
Because of You
JH: It really came from a standpoint of appreciation. So many couples get caught up in routine of life. She’s working; he’s working and just gets caught up in life. Nobody really stops to say, Hey, it’s because of you that I’ve changed. It’s because of you that I do the things that I do. And just the, I appreciate you. It was just from the appreciation standpoint and from the need of a guy to say to his girl, Hey, I appreciate you and it’s because of you that I see things through light that I see it through now.
Toast (a JSD Favorite)
JH: That seems to be like the album favorite. I don’t know if you have ever been in a long term relationship, but I always say if you have been in a relationship at least 5 years, you have been though some stuff. Everyone loves love and loves being in love when it is all good. What counts is can you weather the storm, because it’s coming, regardless. I don’t care how perfect it is, it’s coming. It could be anything, but if you can weather the storm and make it through despite what everyone said, and it’s a healthy relationship, I just think you should toast to it.
JSD: What’s next for J. Hollins?
JH: What’s next for J. Hollins is just getting the Soul Renaissance LP to fall upon as many ears as I can get it to fall upon. On top of that, as well, I’m just performing as much as I can, for the next 8-12 months, every where and any where that I can. I never started doing this, honestly, to become famous, I started doing this because I really love this craft and it’s my freedom sort of speak. A lot of people talk about what makes them feel free; this is what makes me feel free. I don’t have a care in the world when I’m writing and recording music.
If you are in the Chicago area, be sure to check out J. Hollins performing live with Bilal at the Double Door on Saturday March 27th.
For more information on J. Hollins, visit www.jhollinsmusic.com.