R & B/soul singer Lyfe Jennings is set to release his “final album” I Still Believe on May 25th. Prior to the latest album he has released Lyfe 268-192, The Phoenix, and Lyfe Change. Best known for his inspirational lyrics that he cleverly displayed in songs like “S.E.X”, “Must Be Nice”, and “Hypothetically”, Lyfe is one of the best when it comes to slipping a message into good music. Over the years he has worked with artists like Fantasia, Nas, LL Cool J, T.I. and many more. This talented songwriter/musician is a pioneer who has overcome many obstacles and still managed to climb to the top of the music charts after spending 10 years in prison.
Determined to break the cycle Lyfe focused on writing music and performing within the confined walls of the correctional facility. After he was released he made his debut appearance on The Apollo. Although the experience changed his life he does not give prison any credit for his change in direction, he states “I don’t want to give credit to prison. I would give credit to having time free from external influences it gave me an opportunity to really get to know myself and I say that because I don’t want some little kid thinking that he has to go to prison or it’s cool to go to prison. I could have done the same thing at home if I would have cleared out all the negative friends. I could have done 10 years at home.” Clearly driven by motivation and his lack of fear, he pushed himself to the height of his career.
After a two year hiatus the hit maker’s name had been burning up the internet with rumors of another arrest for possession of a weapon and eluding the police. Whatever his situation his diehard fans are patiently awaiting his return. Parlé chopped it up with Lyfe Jennings to get the scoop on his new album, his kids, his R & B crush, Media Take Out and much more.
Parlé Magazine: Your fans have missed you, where have you been?
Lyfe Jennings: In the bathroom. I’ve been on a bathroom break.
Parlé: A bathroom break for two and a half years?
Lyfe: Yeah, I ate some bad fish.
Parlé: No, seriously where have you been?
Lyfe: I’ve been home with the kids, you know being in their company and being an influence in their life. I’ve also been working on an album too.
Parlé: Does the album have a released date?
Lyfe: Yes, May 25th.
Parlé: What are you calling this one?
Lyfe: It’s called I Still Believe.
Parlé: Your music is very inspirational. Who did you grow up listening to?
Lyfe: A lot of people. I grew up listening to Daryl Coley, Anita Baker, Boyz II Men cats like that.
Parlé: How did you decide you wanted to go into the music industry?
Lyfe: Well my family is musicians, from my uncles to my aunties they used to sing. So I grew up in the church and it kind of stuck with me.
Parlé: After your appearance on the Apollo your career exploded. Were you surprised?
Lyfe: I wasn’t surprised, surprised like I never thought that would happen, because we always hoped it would, but I was flattered that so many people for so long still remember it. The other day I met someone that said I remember you from Apollo.
Parlé: Sometimes a negative could affect you in a positive way. How did prison change your life for the better?
Lyfe: I don’t want to give credit to prison. I would give credit to having time free from external influences, it gave me an opportunity to really get to know myself. I say that because I don’t want some little kid thinking that he has to go to prison or it’s cool to go to prison. I could of did this same thing at home. If I would have cleared out all my negative friends I could of did those ten years at home.
Parlé: How did you end up in prison?
Lyfe: I think just being around the wrong element of people and also being chosen to do something. Like sometimes when you’re chosen God puts you where you need to be. So if it’s prison then that’s what it is.
Parlé: Were you singing and doing shows in prison?
Parlé: How did that work?
Lyfe: I started a music program down there. I did the NAACP and people started coming in then every Sunday they started holding functions and different organization started coming in to see me.
Parlé: Really? That’s sounds interesting.
Lyfe: Yes, it definitely passed the time and it was practice.
Parlé: When you walked out of prison did you really believe that you would never return?
Lyfe: I think different about that day because when I left that day just like the “Must Be Nice” video dude said when you leave here don’t look back. That was the truth when I came out focused I never looked back and as time went on things started changing. But I find that as I got in some different kinds of trouble I should have looked back. You know, because when you look back you remember stuff. You look back to say you’ve come from struggle and you can easily go right back to it.
Parlé: You mentioned “Must Be Nice” and that is one of my favorite songs. How did you come up with that song?
Lyfe: Well, I just saw so many people in great relationships and movies. Where you see couples walking hand and hand. I’m thinking wow it must be nice I’m going to write a song about it.
Parlé: So, it wasn’t based on your relationship?
Lyfe: No, I ain’t got nobody like that
Parlé: Really? Oh that’s sad.
Lyfe: Well, sometimes, but when I go to the movies I only got one person to pay for.
Parlé: What was that voice in your head telling you when you walked out of prison?
Lyfe: I was focused. There wasn’t nothing else on my mind. Like most people get out thinking I’m going to find this girl. Wasn’t none of that on my mind I was focused.
Parlé: How did family and friends respond to you when you told them you were going to be a singer?
Lyfe: All the boys from the block wanted to give me work. My mom and them was nonchalant, if your successful then congratulations ,if you aren’t then they won’t mention it. It’s like passive aggressive.
Parlé: After your success did you change mentally?
Lyfe: I do feel like [I did] as time went on, but not the way I treated people. You know what I’m saying because I always showed the upmost respect. I think as time goes on and the money starts coming in and relationships start to change you are bombarded by a lot more temptation so I think your mindset does change, in the sense that your battles change. You think money will make it easier, but it doesn’t. You may not be attacked financially or physically anymore but your moral character is attacked.
Parlé: Was the music industry everything you thought it would be or completely different?
Lyfe: It was everything that I thought it would be with only one thing that was different. I thought everybody was going to be bad or cut throat, but there are some people who want you to win. I’m not sure if it was necessarily me, but they liked the music.