Jacquees Breaks Down His King of R&B Claims & Why He Has the "Utmost Respect" for Keith Sweat [Interview]
We recently caught up with controversial singer Jacquees; he talked about his King of R&B claims, where he stands with Ella Mai, and his misunderstanding with Keith Sweat.
Musically, 2018 was the best year of Jacquees’ career. He released his debut studio album, 4275, as well as side projects like This Time I’m Serious and Lost At Sea 2, with Birdman. He also got major radio play by, unofficially, hopping on Ella Mai’s “Trip,” as part of his Quemix series.
However, all of his artistic achievements were overshadowed by one statement.
During a streaming session, Jacquees declared that he was the “King of R&B.” Now, rappers and R&B singers — or artists who play with both genres like Jacquees does — bragging about their status or talent isn’t a new phenomenon. But this statement instantly hit a nerve. Singers like Tank, Chris Brown, J Holiday, Usher, and others started speaking out. Twitter blew up. There was a weird moment with Keith Sweat. Dave Chappelle commented on it.
A consensus was quickly determined: Jacquees was not the King of R&B.
The statement seems to only have boosted the singer’s profile. Say what you want about the opinion, but you can’t deny this simple fact: there has never been this much interest around Jacquees, one of the most prolific, reliable singers of the last five years.
Okayplayer recently caught up with the controversial singer. Jacquees talked about his King of R&B claims, his love for Dreezy, and how he feels about Keith Sweat. Check out the interview below.
How do you decide which songs to covers?
Well, I don’t do covers, I do Quemixes. I just jack beats like I’m Lil Wayne or something. How I decide to do a Quemix is, I just go off the songs I like. Go off what the girls like. No covers, I’m a Quemixer. I only cover the oldies.
At one point did you think this music thing was for real?
When I was in high school, I realized this is what I’m going to do. I told my teachers I ain’t going to college. I told my mom I ain’t going to college. I’ma just pursue music. I just kept going hard dropping mixtapes and putting my work in the streets. It paid off for me.
What’s your favorite Quemix?
Probably “Persian Rugs.” Shout out to [PARTYNEXTDOOR.]
How would you define a King of R&B?
A King of R&B is somebody who made memories through their music. Made you remember. They had that shit, they was funky. It wasn’t just musically, they inspired you in other ways. They just a whole vibe. They just kings. Like I been listening to Teddy Pendergrass all day, the King of R&B.
How did you feel audiences would react to your claim of being the King of R&B?
See, I’m really glad I did that…because it’s gonna stick. If they hear my new music, and even go back to listen to my old projects, they just realize “damn, that’s why he said that.” I’m really the king of this generation. I ain’t even gonna speak on it no more. I’m just gonna let my next album, Round 2, tell it all.
I was just with Eric Bellinger [Edit note: Bellinger and Jaquees had tension in the past.] What was it like seeing the domino effect from calling yourself the King of R&B?
Well first of all, I don’t even know who that is. I’m just being honest. Second of all, I don’t care who had nothing to say. Because at the end of the day, not one of these niggas helped me, period. Except for Chris Brown. Shout out to Trey Songz and Jagged Edge, too. Shout out to Silk, 112 — if I’m missing names, my bad. But besides the niggas I named, nobody tried to help me for real…I used to stay with CB [in LA]. When I was young, CB tried to pull me up right after high school. He lent his hand. Jagged Edge, they tried to put me down since I was 14.
What did you think of some of the criticism? Do you find any of it valid?
Nah. I didn’t care what nobody had to say. I been like that. I remember all my girlfriends when I was young in middle school, they used to say “man, Jacquees don’t care what nobody got to say about him.” I got the same energy right now as a grown man, I don’t care what nobody got to say about me.
Did the Ella Mai situation make you rethink how you want to go about doing covers?
I mean, it was a lot of controversy behind that. Shout out to all them. Quemix 3, that’s probably going to be my last Quemix… it’s time to put a cap on it.
What’s your relationship with DJ Mustard?
I don’t know. I met him before when I was young. I remember opening up for YG’s My Krazy Life Tour in Atlanta. But, I mean, hopefully we can work. He’s a talented producer, but I don’t want no smoke with nobody. I just want to make good music, and become the legend that I know I am.
How was it working with Dej Loaf?
It was dope. That’s my homegirl, she a talented artist. She’s doing her thang. That was a time that came and went…What’s up with Big Dreezy though? Let’s talk about Dreezy.
Talk about being on her album.
Go get that new Big Dreez album, Love Someone. That’s who they need to put on top of the game, she’s hard as fuck. If you want to talk about some people talking about being underrated, let’s talk about Dreezy.
It was an amazing session, I did the hook in 20 minutes. We recorded it here [Los Angeles]. I was in a lot of those sessions for Big Dreez. She dope. She’s a hard worker. She put in hard work. I see her — it’s like watching me or something.
Best part of signing to Birdman?
The best part is being Cash Money. It comes with no limits. You sign to Cash Money, the sky’s the limit. Whatever you want to do. The dope part of being signed to Cash Money is I got creative control. I control this whole situation. Me. I’m the boss, Jacquees.
How do you stay neutral amongst the controversy between him & Lil Wayne?
I forgot all about that shit. I really don’t give a fuck about that shit.
How heated were you when you thought Keith Sweat said he was King of R&B?
I ain’t know that was Keith Sweat when I walked past him. Keith Sweat, that’s my OG. I got the utmost respect for him. I didn’t know that was him. I had to shake back like “oh shit.” He was supposed to bring me out on Valentine’s Day at the Essence Festival, but I [had] a show in Houston.
All my OGs, they used to bump Sweat in the hood. Sweat was the type of R&B artist you could pull up in your Cadillac and just beat. I feel the same about my music. I didn’t use to just play Keith Sweat, but I heard a lot of him on the radio so I know it’s in me.
What is your creative process in the studio?
I can’t even tell you. That’s a secret. I can’t tell you how I come up with this. Just listen to the radio. Listen to your iPod, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, whatever you got. I can’t give them the drip, or somebody gonna take it.
You’ve had five Platinum plaques, what are some goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Get more plaques. Get a Grammy. I want a BET award, I want all that shit. Best video, I want everything. Everything they offer, I want it…Jacquees just taking it to the top. Movies. My next album, Round 2, is on the way. My new single, featuring Lil Baby, on the way. We got a lot of shit on the way.__
Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up in the Bay Area. She lives, breathes, and sleeps hip-hop, and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there’s a show in L.A., you can find her there. Follow the latest on her fomoblog.com and on Twitter @shirju.