Long Island Singer Jermaine Elliott on the New Generation of R&B, What Sets Him Apart, and How He Hopes to Inspire Others Through His Music
There’s more to this Long Island music lover than what meets the microphone, and he’s here to make that known.
The buzzworthy name happens to be Jermaine Elliott. A smooth type of guy who’s nice on the eyes and easy on the ears, with a limit that is certainly the sky. Naturally a calm soul with a raging vocal centerpiece, Elliott has been eloquently mastering the melodies and lucidly bringing forth lustful lyrics for quite some time now.
The New Yorker’s where-Trap-meets-R&B approach to the art and celestial songwriting and producing techniques are what sets him apart from the rest, effortlessly molding him into a triple threat behind the pen and in the booth.
A creative conjunction of unvarnished storytelling and peculiar harmonizing, along with Elliott’s Hip-Hop-like swagger and soft-sailing sound, contributes to why his style goes unmovingly unmatched.
But it was within the walls of his high-school halls that Jermaine Elliott began to hone his craft into the blessing that it is today. From talent shows to dance squads, Elliott was determined to someday show the world that he’s always had the gift of greatness growing inside of him. Which is now signed, sealed, and delivered… in the most major way.
Pulling inspiration from legends Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson, among others, the crooner has audaciously created his own lane in this game, and he definitely didn’t come to play.
What started out as a collective of songs uploaded to Elliott’s Soundcloud and YouTube page, in 2015, has catapulted his career to new heights. Millions of streams and top-notch collaborations later, with artists Tory Lanez, H.E.R., and DaniLeigh, the East Coast singer is taking the industry by storm.
As if a Grammy win, for co-writing H.E.R.’s hit single “Facts,” wasn’t enough to stamp his print on the scene, Elliott continues to make an impact.
Just months after the release of his debut album, Send for Me, and a Canadian tour, he has returned with an all-new EP, titled, Songs 2 Drive 2 (S2D2). The four-track project showcases a more sensual side of Elliott, as he elaborates on love and life chronicles that people endure on an everyday basis.
Quite the monster at what he does, the adept songster currently has the #MonsterChallenge breaking the internet right now. Straight from his Send for Me album, supporters all over the globe are seen on video, vibing to the banger and giving off their best moves.
Now gearing up for his second LP, Jermaine Elliott on the rise, and we can’t help but be down for the ride.
We recently caught up with J.E. to talk about today’s R&B arena, how he fits into it, what’s to come, and so much more.
Check it out below!
Parlé Mag: So, before we get into your latest project, S2D2, let’s take it back to the beginning a little bit. When did you first realize that you wanted to do music? And how did it all begin for you?
Jermaine Elliott: Well, I’ve always been inspired to make music. When I was younger, I used to produce a lot back in high school. I used to sing around the house, but I never really took it seriously. My mom and my dad, they’re both singers. So, that’s where, I would say, I get my musical inspiration from. But I never had the confidence to put my music out to the world. You know? One day, my brother and I were in the studio and stuff like that, and he’s just like, “Yo’! You’ve got to bring your music out. You can’t just be a studio rapper; you have to share your music with the world.” So, he put one of my songs on his Instagram!
Parlé Mag: Oh wow!
Jermaine Elliott: I didn’t even know! And it started to gain a lot of attraction. So, once that happened, that was the day that I decided like, “I have to take it seriously!” From that point on, that’s when I started my musical career.
Parlé Mag: Coming from a place like Long Island, New York, in what ways would you say that culture sort of influenced your sound?
Jermaine Elliott: I feel like it influenced my sound a lot! Growing up in Long Island, it was tough. I’m from the north side, so I went through a lot. I had a lot of bad times, good times, but it taught me how to navigate through life. Also, there are a lot of talented people who are from Long Island, but they get overlooked. A lot of people who are unheard of.
Parlé Mag: Right, right. I totally get it.
Jermaine Elliott: But, all in all, [Long Island] is where my roots are. A lot of people are rappers out there. I always feel like I get my inspiration from them as well.
Parlé Mag: For the longest, there’s been this huge misconception about artists who may have jumpstarted their career on platforms like Soundcloud, which is actually where you attracted a large part of your fan base.
Jermaine Elliott: Yep.
Parlé Mag: Most have this preconceived notion that it makes you less talented or you’re not to be taken seriously, which I think is certainly not true. However, I did want to ask, as someone who’s been in the game for a few years, do you think that you’ve gotten the recognition that you truly deserve? Or do you still consider yourself the underdog?
Jermaine Elliott: I would say that everything happens for a reason. I believe in that. There’s still a large part of the world that hasn’t gotten hipped to me yet, so I feel like I still am the underdog. It’s weird to say that I like it but [in some aspects] I do. You never know what angle I’m coming from, so I can’t really be stopped. Some artists have to deal with certain things that I don’t have to deal with. I can drop when I want to; I can come from any type of angle that I want to. So, it comes with the work. You have to stay on task, and you have to be patient. One day, things will pop, so I’ve learned to just be patient. If you pop too quickly, you won’t know what the struggle is like to get there. So, God forbid, if something did happen, you would know to retrace your steps, what to do, or even teach another person how to get to the next level.
Parlé Mag: I agree! Because when you finally do reach that success point, it makes it even greater to see all of your hard work.
Jermaine Elliott: Right! Sometimes, when you reach a certain point, you don’t really know where to go from there.
Parlé Mag: As we know, last August, you released your debut album, Send for Me. Now, you’re back with this new EP, S2D2. What have you grown to appreciate about your craft since the first project?
Jermaine Elliott: What I’ve grown to learn is that, don’t hold anything back. When you have a song, drop it. Because, sometimes, you might wait too long to drop something, and it might not feel the same as it felt in that period of time. Time management is key. Also, you learn new things about recording. When you put your music out there, you know what sticks, what doesn’t, people’s favorites. You kind of get like a blueprint of where to go and what songs are received better.
Parlé Mag: So, speaking of S2D2, which stands for Songs 2 Drive 2, talk to us about the making of this project.
Jermaine Elliott: Basically, I would go through a lot of music every day and sample parts [of it]. I just decided that I wanted to create something that was an easy listen. You know? Maybe if you’re taking a late-night drive, or if you’re with your friends… going to the beach. Just that feeling! I wanted to capture that feeling in one EP. So, I started to think about situations that made me feel like that or situations that would complete this EP. Again, an easy listen. That’s what I was going for, and that’s how I came up with the concept.
Parlé Mag: Nice! Was there anything that you set out to do differently with this body of work this time around?
Jermaine Elliott: Differently than Send for Me? No. I wouldn’t think that it was anything different; it was just, like I said, as you keep making music, you get better and better. You start to evolve. So, I feel like [S2D2] is just my evolution process. [I’m] continuously making beats every day, continuously coming up with concepts every day. As you keep living, in life, you go through different situations, and those situations, you put down on paper. As long as you’re living and you’re able to go through situations, you’ll always have songs to sing and topics to talk about. So, I feel like this process wasn’t any different from my last.
Parlé Mag: What is your favorite track on the EP, and why?
Jermaine Elliott: My favorite track would have to be “Tiffany Xo.” It just has like a different groove to it, a different sound! It’s a bop! It talks about things that are going on right now. You might not have time for somebody, even though you might love that person and feel for that person. But you’re on your grind, and it just might not seem like enough time.
Parlé Mag: Yeah, that’s true! It does happen like that sometimes.
Jermaine Elliott: That was a pivotal point for me–going through situations. Sometimes, you just don’t have enough time for people. You see what I’m saying? But you still love them. That’s what I was trying to attack when I came out with that song, “Tiffany Xo.” And that’s probably why it’s my favorite.
Parlé Mag: Playing off of the title of your EP a little bit, what are some songs that you like to drive to?
Jermaine Elliott: It all depends on what mood I’m in! Sometimes, I might listen to DaBaby, when I’m in my vibe. I might be chilling with the homies! [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs] I feel you!
Jermaine Elliott: I might turn around and listen to some Usher shit, or Lucky Daye, PartyNextDoor. Something that’s like a little more vibed out. Late-night chilling or whatever. It all depends on the mood.
Parlé Mag: It sounds like you have a variety in your playlist! [laughs]
Jermaine Elliott: Yeah, yeah! It’s definitely a variety. Or, I might throw on some old-school shit!
Parlé Mag: And there’s nothing wrong with that. [laughs]
Jermaine Elliott: [laughs]
Parlé Mag: Sometimes, when an artist drops their first project, there’s always this fear that the second one won’t necessarily live up to that. Has that ever been a worry for you? Like, how have you managed to stay creatively consistent?
Jermaine Elliott: When I first started–when I first began my musical career–there was a song that I dropped called “Jealous.” Everybody loved that song! Everybody! When I was talking about my brother, he’s the one who made me drop that song. That was the first song, and I dropped another song after that, but “Jealous” was getting more attention. So, I felt like, “Damn! How am I ever going to be able to top this song?” Because everybody was just so stuck on it. I was like, “How can I shake that?” But, it’s all about, in due time, especially when you’re a new artist. People are always going to play favoritism to the song that they like the most.
Parlé Mag: Ah, exactly.
Jermaine Elliott: So, you just have to keep working through that. Once that momentum comes, that ball starts to roll, you’re able to release other music, and they start favoriting those songs more than that first song, then you know that you’re on the road to something. If you know that you just released one song, that’s the only song that they like, and all the other songs, they’re like, “Eh, it’s alright, but I just only like that one song,” then you might have a problem. But, like I said, again, [after] evolving and doing it so much, you get into a groove and people start to like different songs.
Parlé Mag: I don’t think you have to worry about people only liking a certain song because you’re definitely very talented!
Jermaine Elliott: Thank you! I appreciate that so much.
Parlé Mag: No problem! So, what do you think R&B has been missing for the last couple of years, and how do you hope to implement that in your own music?
Jermaine Elliott: For me, I would say that it’s the soul that’s missing, the actual craft. Sometimes, it might be what you’re talking about in the record. I feel like a lot of records are just talking about getting cash and bitches. Excuse my language. Just the regular, normal shit.
Parlé Mag: Yes!
Jermaine Elliott: So, when you start to talk about the problems, the things that are going on, what you did in that situation, or how that thing made you feel at that particular time, that’s what’s going to connect to other people. Like, when old-school artists used to make songs. Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, he was making a song about things not being his. When you connect yourself with the world from problems that you’re going through, that’s when you’re able to reach that certain plateau and bring that soul back to the music.
Parlé Mag: People want something they can relate to! So, I understand where you’re coming from on that.
Jermaine Elliott: They do!
Parlé Mag: If any, what are the challenges of being a male R&B artist in today’s world?
Jermaine Elliott: I don’t feel like there are any challenges. Any challenge that I would face is just being a better me, internal things. How to be better, what angle to come from next. Sometimes, R&B music is not played as much. People are favoriting things that are already out, so maybe it might be a little harder for an R&B artist to come out the gate [in today’s world] and people to like it off the rip. But, you know, like I said, with consistency, it’ll bring people to be more aware.
Parlé Mag: Once someone gains a certain level of success in the industry, it’s easy to become complacent. How have you managed to stay afloat and not get lost in the hype, especially when it comes to such a fast-paced field?
Jermaine Elliott: Stay off Instagram! [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs] Really?
Jermaine Elliott: That’s the only way! A lot of times, I put my phone down; I’m not in the world. Because I feel like Instagram is its own world. Sometimes, you can get caught up into, “Oh, who’s got this on?”, “Who’s driving this car?”, or “Who’s rocking this chain?”
Parlé Mag: And it’s not even real!
Jermaine Elliott: It’s not! So, once you get caught up in that, you start comparing yourself. “Oh, how can I do this like this person?”, “How can I get this car like that person?” You don’t even know what it really took for that person to get that thing… or if that thing is even real. [Not getting caught up in that] is the way that I stay humble and grounded. I don’t do the things that everybody else does.
Parlé Mag: What would you say is the most rewarding part about what you do?
Jermaine Elliott: Ah, man! Just being able to see the reaction of the people who support me, people across the world. Being able to see the distance that my music reaches, seeing people in Egypt dance to it. It just makes me happy that I’m actually able to touch other people in other parts of the world.
Parlé Mag: That’s amazing. When people do see Jermaine Elliott, who do you want them to see him as?
Jermaine Elliott: I want them to see me as a role model for the kids. I want them to see me as a big brother. Just a mentor, somebody who can help you get through your relationship or get through something else that you’re going through. That’s who I would want to be looked at as. Somebody you could talk to when you’re going through that problem that’s really hurting you. I feel like I would be that person to give that strong advice on how to get through that situation.
Parlé Mag: What advice would you offer other up and coming singers?
Jermaine Elliott: Trust the process! I’ve been in so many situations where I’ve worked so many jobs, did this and did that. Sometimes, you get into this gray space, where it’s like, “What am I doing? Is this music shit really going to take off? Am I going to be somebody? Should I quit this shit and go to school?” A lot of artists go through that phase. I’ve caught myself getting into that gray area, sometimes, but you know what? Every time I feel that feeling, something good happens! So, I know that I’m on the right path.
Parlé Mag: It only lets you know to keep going!
Jermaine Elliott: Exactly!
Parlé Mag: Tell us what else is in store for you this year.
Jermaine Elliott: I’m actually working on a new album!
Parlé Mag: Wow! Any details on that? [laughs]
Jermaine Elliott: [laughs] The album should be dropping soon. Really soon! The #MonsterChallenge is out right now. It’s sweeping the nation! We’ve got music videos coming out. We’ve got some big, big features coming out. So, that’s what you can expect.
Catch up with Jermaine Elliott on social media!
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