Jimmy Jam, and his business partner, Terry Lewis, have revolutionized the sound of urban music for over 30 years. The duo has written and composed for top-notch artists such as Janet Jackson, Prince, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and Usher.
Jimmy Jam recently sat down with rolling out magazine to provide his thought on the current state of urban music and the new artists who impress him the most. –amir shaw
You have a great ear for music. Which current artists are leading the way in urban music?
You have to love the endurance of hip-hop music and how certain artists continue to make great music. Because it’s tough following up great records. But Kanye did we it, Drake did it, and Lil Wayne did it. And when it comes to R&B, there are also a new crop of guys. The Weeknd and Frank Ocean are guys I’m really excited about.
The Grammy Awards are on the horizon, which artists put out the best work in 2011?
I’m a huge Drake fan. I love his textures, I love his stories and I love the way he collaborates. His album was well put together. And the other person is Adele. Everybody is into Adele and it’s a fantastic album. The thing I like about that album is I have three kids and we have a bunch of instruments around my house and they don’t really necessarily play them. But when they heard the Adele album, it made them want to go to the piano and start trying to learn these songs. I like the influence of great music. … So as far as the influence of that album, it’s across the board. There is a reason people love it.
Being one of the top producers of all time, you have a lot of insight. What advice do you give to young people who are aspiring to make music their career?
My advice would be to enjoy what you do. It’s a God given gift to even have the talent to make music. Music is a life-changing experience that is the soundtrack of our lives. You can put a song on and you will remember the girl you were with back at the prom. I always think of the art of songwriting and the art of producing. It’s very divine and it’s very God given. I would tell people to just really enjoy that gift. The business sometimes is weird, but everyday you get to wake-up and you have the chance to create something that could change someone’s life. And there’s nothing like that.