Jon B Explains New Album, Comfortable Swagg
Back in the 90s Jon B was a refreshing voice to hear. Not only was this white boy from Rhode Island via Pasadena, California singing R & B, but he actually sounded good. Eventually catching the ear of Tracey Edmonds, President of Yab-Yum Records, he saw his dreams come to fruition. Combining his sound with the influence and writing of Kenneth “BabyFace” Edmonds, Jon B had the potential to become the pioneer of his lane. After 17 years in the business and still going strong, he has released his seventh album, Comfortable Swagg on his own independent label, Vibezelect Inc. In town for a promotional show at B.B. Kings, where he is one of the most consistent in selling out his shows, Jon B. sat in the crowded restaurant/lounge of the Marriot Hotel in Times Square for a few moments to talk about this latest projects.
Jon B. seemed to disappear from the scene after his last project, Pleasures U Like. At that time he was signed to Epic Records. But his return was expected. In an industry where you can be here today and gone tomorrow, Jon B. has maintained being humble. “I’m not on a major label anymore so it’s not any major dollars being spent to make the audience aware of what’s going on but the people that are really true fans made an effort to find out.” With so many avenues out there to get music to the fans, Jon has expounded every one of them to keep his musical relevance. “I’m shooting my own videos, producing my own music and putting tours together. Now that I have my hand in everything that involves my career and to have creative control, it is a great freedom.”
Going from a major label to independent label was a grueling transition in its own but Jon B. was built for the struggle and the ride. “The motivation is the inner drive and passion that I have for the music.” He knows that the charts are occupied by the major labels and their hold over the radio airwaves to have and keep their artists playing and in the spotlight of potential fans. “People don’t understand that it’s not about music, these labels pay for number one, they pay for how long you stay there and they also pay for your video being played.”
Releasing his seventh album, Comfortable Swagg, Jon B. was ready to show his core fans and especially the new ones that he is making mature music and doing it his own way and for the people. “Comfortable Swagg is one coming into his own. It’s where I’m at right now. If something is not making me feel comfortable, my wife or my fans feel comfortable, then it’s not for me.” Writing and producing the album solely, Jon B. has his own spin and the love for his music and it comes across in the album. The album is a mixture of the beat-driven music of today and also contains some of the old Jon B. swag.
He still has a relationship with Babyface. They have done a few shows together but haven’t worked on any production. “That’s my father to the game. He’s the person that really opened doors for me.” Honing his skills through his mentor and using his experience in the business he has done what he can to continue to make his music.
Jon B. recalls his most memorable in the business, which was working with Tupac on the record, “Are U Still Down.” “It was incredible, he was a humble and strong individual. He had the same kind of charisma that I have, he had passion and everything he did was so heartfelt. I think we caught the intimate part of ‘Pac on the record.”
More music and more shows are in store for the fans that love Jon B. And he promised that as long as he can make music, he will. The hardship of the industry has not taken a hold of him and hasn’t broken him down like it has done to many. If anything he has come out stronger and unscathed by the struggles of getting his music to his fans.
His album, Comfortable Swagg is available on iTunes and you can keep up with him on his website, www.jonbworld.com. “It’s all about that comfortable swagg.”
Images by Jay Bastien for Parlé Magazine
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