The past 12 months have been somewhat of a whirlwind for Jacquees. Within one year, the young crooner from Atlanta has released his debut EP, 19; Chris Brown presented him as the next voice in R&B; he had several favorable moments on the Rich Gang mixtape; and he signed a record deal with Cash Money Records.
Indeed, life has changed dramatically for Jacquees, but he appears to be more than prepared for the spoils and challenges of stardom.
His first duty would likely be to uphold the successful standards for Cash Money Records, as a transition seems to be on the verge of taking place with the label. Lil Wayne continues an ongoing dispute with the label; Tyga denounced the label and seems to have beef with Drake and Nicki Minaj; and Bow Wow recently decided to leave the label after years of being on the shelf.
But Jacquees could be the fresh look that could keep Cash Money in the dominant position it has maintained for nearly 20 years.
He garnered a significant buzz for his singles “Come Thru” and “Me, U, and Hennessy [Quemix].” Now set to release his debut album, Jacquees is ready to welcome Cash Money to the future.
Growing up in Atlanta, how were you inspired by the city’s thriving music scene?
It just inspired me that I could do it. I’m from Atlanta, so I’ve been around everybody that’s from the city. [I’ve] been grinding since I was 12 and I’m 21 now and it’s just now hitting for me. I was with Gucci Mane the first time I met Stunna [Birdman]. It’s definitely an inspiration to be able to be around people like Gucci and [have] music all in the streets. I can say T.I. was the first rapper that told me that I was going to blow. He probably don’t remember, but I remember and it’s going to stick with me. It inspired me to keep going and to never give up.
What do you remember most about your first encounter with Birdman?
It started with Coach K. He knew about me as a youngin’ coming up in Atlanta. I had a studio session and Coach K told me he would bring me back to meet with Birdman and Gucci. I went in and Gucci was playing a song for Stunna. We eventually started gambling. We actually got a chance to talk a few months later on his tour bus. I remember, I stepped on the bus and he was just looking at me and he stared at me for a long time. He started shaking his head and was like, “We’re going to do it. We’re going to make you a superstar, a big superstar. That’s what we’re doing right now.”
How does it feel to be a part of the Cash Money brand?
It makes me feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m around people like Juvenile. Juvie is my dawg. He acts like the older one with the wisdom and can teach me about the game. So, I go to Juvie and I ask him what he thinks about certain songs. It also feels good just being around Baby and Slim. It feels like family. I tell people I’m going to be Cash Money forever. That’s what it feels like and that’s what it’s going to be. It feels like family and I know they got me. At night I pray to be one of the biggest stars in the world. I always prayed for that and I never lost faith in that. Look where he landed me. I’m on the biggest platform for music.
How did you react when you received a co-sign from Chris Brown?
That was big. I marked that off my bucket list. Chris is my idol, so that was huge. I stayed with him after I moved to LA and I didn’t want to leave. Can you imagine working with your idol? Can you imagine waking up in the same house as your idol? That was a blessing. I’m always thanking God for that opportunity to be able to be around my idol. We close like brothers. I thank God that he even brought me to that situation to be able to meet somebody that can help me throughout this game. That can teach me something, so I don’t make the same mistakes he did. He always told me that he wanted me to be better than [him]. He tells me certain stuff not to do. That was huge because he didn’t have to do that. He really pulled me in. That’s my dawg forever. That’s my idol. That’s like if I would have got in with Chris and Michael Jackson. How Michael Jackson is to him, that’s how he inspired me.
Young ladies on social media often quote lyrics from your love songs. If you could take a fan out on a date, where would you go?
We have to do something wild, like go see animals. I’m into that. It’s different; it’ll take her mind somewhere else. It has to be something bigger than the zoo, maybe a safari. Something cool like that. I just want to take adventures with chicks. I don’t want to do something basic or regular. I don’t want to just take you to the movies.
Beyond music, what other ventures are you currently working on?
Right now, we got the clothing line that’s out. It’s Fresh Young Boys [FYB]. We’ll have a gang of artists and a whole bunch of rappers in FYB. We’re coming with that for the summer.
How was it working with Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan on the Rich Gang mixtape?
Man that was epic. The Rich Gang mixtape is epic. That was big for me. We’re like brothers. I’m the youngest. They’re just like my big brothers. I just follow their lead. I do my own thing of course, but it’s certain stuff that I would take from them because they’re my big brothers.
I want you to think ahead for a second. What will people say about your impact on music?
I just want them to say, “Jacquees moved me. He made me feel good. I want them to have a song for every time period. I just want them to remember me and how I made them feel. I want people to say I made their life better. I made situations better. When they cut on my music and they’re going through something, it’s just over. Or, they can play my music and get through something. I just want them to remember me as [a legend].