Lyfe Jennings will soon release his sixth album, The Tree of Lyfe. During a recent interview with rolling out, he revealed how he continues to adjust to life after prison and the importance of making the right decisions.
After experiencing several stints in jail, how do you use your situation to help other Black men from making the same mistakes?
Cats always ask me, “How does it feel to get out?” Well, I don’t know because I’m always getting out [laughs]. But when we talk about that backstory, it’s really a forward story. Those are the things I still go through. I think God put things on me because he knows I’m not going to cave in by them. I’m going to reflect on it, and I’m going to write about it. I want cats to know what I’ve been through so if they go through it, they’ll know how to handle it too.
You have dealt with situations that have led to trouble with law enforcement. How do you stay away from that and focus on creating music?
I stay focused by focusing on the right things. I believe that we create off of what we focus on. What we focus on we get more of. So if something isn’t going my way, I don’t focus on it. I focus on the things that are working so I can get more things that are working. I call it, the “Art of doing nothing.” To me, it is definitely a reaction. You’re not focused on it so there’s no need for a reaction. I’m the creator. Nobody outside of me is creating my future outside of me. I create that by what I focus on and how I feel about it. So why would I keep on creating this same situation in my future just because it’s happening now. This whole world is just a reflection of that world above it and that world above it is thought and focus.
How have you learned to avoid bad situations before trouble occurs?
When you get into any situation, whether it be a racial situation, or a financial situation, you have to ask yourself, “What do I want out of this situation?” What is your bottom line? Then you have to move accordingly and be honest about what you really want. Prime example, I was at a club with a couple of my partners and one cat didn’t want to take off his hat to get in the club. So he starts arguing with the security guy. So I pulled him to the side and said, “Hey, what are you trying to get out of this? If you want to get in, you have to do what this man asks you to do. If you don’t want to get in, then why not just leave? Why create a situation?” In every situation, you have to ask yourself, ‘What do I want out of this situation?’ and move accordingly to it.
Do you find the music industry to be more shady than the streets at times?
Yeah. If you’re dealing with street dudes, they’re going to give it to you how it’s going to be. If you have a friend in the streets, he’s going to be your friend when he sees you. If he’s your enemy, he’s going to be your enemy when he sees you. But in the music business, it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. A cat will portray like he’s down with you and then, in reality, he’s just looking for another promotional stunt. He feels like you’re hot at that time so he wants to be involved in that hotness. That’s the difference.
How do you want your music and words to inspire other generations?
When I write, I want it to live forever. As far as first*week sales and stuff like that, I’m at a unique position because I have experienced different levels of success when it comes to album sales. My mindset is really on the project. I think that your legacy is not what you do by yourself, but your legacy is what you do for other people. So me being out in these streets and talking to these people, we did this together. So I know sooner or later, you’ll love it, because you love yourself. We did this whole thing, me and you.