[INTERVIEW] Grammy Winning Songwriter, Love Records Flagship Artist Jozzy Tells How She Found Resurgence After Being Dropped By First Label

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When Diddy says R&B is dead, it stirs a conversation.  When you’re a singer-songwriter in this current state of the business, you know you’re doing everything you can to keep the genre alive.  As a songwriter, every time your pen touches pad you’re trying to bring back that classic R&B feel.  When you’re Jozzy, a multi Grammy Award winner this year as a songwriter (previously won for co-writing Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road Remix”), and a talented singer in your own right, you let the work speak for itself, every single time. And when Diddy gives you a co-sign, literally making you the first artist signed to his new R&B record label, Love Records, it’s a clear sign that the work is indeed doing all the talking.

Memphis native Jozzy released her debut EP, Songs For Women, Free Game For N*ggas on Friday, February 24th. The 10-track project serves as a perfect introduction to both Jozzy the artist and the vibe that Diddy is trying to bring to his Love Records brand.

We caught up with Jozzy on a recent promo trip in New York City. Calm as ever, Jozzy opened up about her road to Songs For Women, being mentored by Missy Elliott and Timbaland; plus, how she overcame getting dropped from her first label to becoming the face of Love Records. Check out the full details in our Jozzy interview below.


Parlé Magazine:  You’ve been in the industry for a little minute, writing and producing, a little bit of everything. Talk to me about that journey and first of all, what made you even decide music was the thing for you.
Jozzy:  There was never no negotiations when it came to me and music, I’ve been tied to music since my brother was a rapper and he got locked up when I was a kid. I was like, one year old, He was locked up. Seeing all them tapes he left and CD’s that he left…

And my mom was an artist with Hi Records with Willie Mitchell and Al Green. So it was always in my blood, feel like with my brother, I probably would have wanted to be a rapper because he probably would have blew up.  So, I just feel like I always wanted to just make myself and him happy and proud.  Music always was just embedded in me. Just music, music, music.  I never had a Plan B. It was always going to be music. Even when I played sports, it was always going to be music.


Parlé Mag:  So, talk to me about the first moment you knew that it was it was actually going to happen for you as a songwriter.
Jozzy: The first time I knew it was going to happen was when I met Polow Da Don, actually. This is like 2015, you got to understand Atlanta in 2015 and 2016, that was like, the Golden Age of Rap. That was Migos, Cardi, that was Uzi, just starting to get on. Like it was beautiful, that was a beautiful time. So, I was around that time.  I met Polow through Timbaland. He’s like, let me be your manager. I went to Atlanta from Miami, and I was just in the studio. I did like Monica’s whole project. I wrote “Just Right For Me,” featuring Lil Wayne. I did like 5 or 6 songs on the project (Code Red), one song with Missy Elliott on it. It was just a full circle moment for me because I started with Missy. That was when I knew I was like, ‘Okay, I got it.’

And then after that, in 2015, I got on Chris Brown’s Royalty album. I did “Discover,” so everything was just starting to, you know, shape, shape his course. That was when I kind of realized, ‘now I can do this. I can do this and at a large scale.’  Because some of the greats are messing with me and not just because I’m with Polow, but because I actually got that shit.


Jozzy’s many credits are listed under name her name Jocelyn Donald or Jocelyn A. Donald depending on the streaming service.  


Jozzy interview parle magParlé Mag:  That’s dope.  You mentioned that you got your start with Missy and Timb, were you signed the them at that time?
Jozzy:  No, no I wasn’t signed then.  I met Timb through Wisdom. He was a producer that was signed under Timb. Wisdom was from Memphis, but he lived in VA. And so, like, I was coming home from school one day, and I got a call from his homie. He was like, ‘Wis want to meet you’.  He needed a rider at the time, and they were desperate. I ended up asking my parents could I go to Miami for like a week? I ended up staying out there for like years and then literally Timbaland just took us in.

But then Missy really let me come stay with her for a few weeks in Atlanta, a few weeks in Jersey, and then she really put me through camp of like you need to know who your artists are from the past.  Don’t be coming here thinking you know everything. I was always woke to that though, I was always a student.

I was just never signed. You know, they should have signed me. I always said it, you know? But I’m so glad because I would have signed with them, and I’m so glad I didn’t.


Parlé Mag:  So, you’re killing the songwriting right now, obviously multiple Grammy nominations just this past Award show…
Jozzy: I had like 5 nominations, for two Black women. Two strong Black women.  Beyoncé and Mary J Blige. That’s nasty! That’s like two different walks of life.


Jozzy is credited as a songwriter on Beyoncé’s Renaissance album for co-writing “Virgo’s Groove” and on Mary J.’s album for several songs, including “Come See About Me”


Parlé Mag:  Right.
Jozzy:  Yeah, crazy.


Parlé Mag: Talk to me about the whole journey and actually getting that Grammy and being in that building, knowing that everything kind of came full circle for you in that moment.
Jozzy:  This is the first year that songwriters were acknowledged at the Grammys with Songwriter of the Year.  It was also the first time where everybody gets a Grammy, if you win on the album.  When I did “Old Town Road” and got a Grammy for that, I got a certificate, they didn’t give me a trophy! You only got that for record of the year, but now you know this time they gave me the Grammy.  So, this was a great year for me to be able to actually get that.  I wanted the hardware! I say what I want, but I never really said I’m going to get a Grammy, I said I wanted a Grammy.  I just felt like my music, R&B, they didn’t really take it serious. You know, they don’t take it serious, but In today’s world, I feel like R&B, which now that I’m older, I realize R&B is Pop.  R&B is taken serious, but at the time I kind of as an artist, I mean as a jit. I really didn’t get. I didn’t really think I was gonna get a Grammy. You know, like I wanted one, but I never really thought I was going to get one. So, it’s amazing to be in that room and actually be able to get one.


Parlé Mag:  So, you’re originally from Memphis, in Cali now. And you mentioned all those stops you’ve had in your career.  Talk to me about all those different experiences, how did that all culminate to where you are now as an artist?
Jozzy: I’m cold!  I say that because like if you come from Memphis, anybody who leaves the town and goes  somewhere else, they stay flourished. I don’t know what it is about a Memphis person’s personality.  You know, making easy money, pimpin’ hoes in style… That’s what Memphis is!  It’s like the whole pimp culture; either you the pimp or the hoe. That’s how it’s like. And then, like, you got to know how to talk, you got to know to be fast on your feet. You got to know how to not be fake.  Cause in Memphis you can’t be too comfortable cause at any given moment, something could happen. There’re no nice spots in Memphis. There’re no nice parts. So you have to know how to, like, move it every hood, every neighborhood, every school district, you know, you got to know how to move. I think that just prepared me for life.  If you know how to move in your city. And you ain’t get in trouble, you ain’t get locked up, you ain’t get your ass whooped, you ain’t get bullied… You know, everybody messes with you, likes you. You can go and take over anything else. And that’s kind of what I did and that’s why I feel like Memphis is so embedded in me.  I could go to New York, I can go to LA and be comfortable.  Then we all got Southern roots as well, so that was easy. And as far as the music, I mean, Memphis is the hub. It’s the hub of everything from Blues to Country to Rap to Gospel. The number one culture church is in Memphis, you know, Gee Patterson, you know, that was Memphis. So, Gospel is heavy, but then Rap is heavy too. Rock’n’roll, Elvis Presley. Like everything kind of stems from Memphis, you know, so. It’s just in me you know, from Stax, Hi Records. It’s just really in me.

Parlé Mag:  Obviously, you’re signed to Love Records. But you were already on this trajectory to be a solo artist and to actually be in front. Talk to me about that, the before. Before Love.  What was that journey like? Because I know you had some singles you already dropped before this new label.
Jozzy: Yeah, I was dropping singles during COVID.  I had dropped a little project because I couldn’t write for nobody. You know, I was like, ‘oh man, what am I going to do?’ I was signed to a label and they really dropped the ball on me. They didn’t know what to do with me, and I was really jaded.  Then I started looking at YouTube and they were showing me every artist that was dropped first and then blew up.  One was Kendrick Lamar. Lady Gaga, she was dropped like three times and there was just names that were so big, like Kendrick was dropped?! And then boom! Section.80, then boom, Good kid, maad City.  So was 2 Chainz… Tity Boy was dropped.  It gave me a resurgence.

And then when I met Puff, that was it. Like, that’s the guy that like, my whole DNA came from 90s Bad Boy, 2000s Bad Boy, like Day26. I watched that faithfully.  Like ‘Making The Band’ was my shit!!  It was almost like when you hear a guy like Puff say you a star, you need to be an artist…  I think I said no. I did say no. And then, I went back home to LA and I was just thinking about it and I was like man, ‘Nah, if Puff say this, why would I not want to do it, with Puff the guy? Like he actually put Missy Elliott on! You know what I’m saying? Yeah, it was one of those moments. But like, I just, I always had a strong connection. I have a strong connection with God and my faith is strong, bro. And no matter how jaded I was, I just needed somebody to put a little more pep in my step. And after that I just started back believing in myself and, you know, put it in, and left it in his hands.
Literally, I’m here now. Crazy!


Parlé Mag:  It’s funny that you say those are your influences. Listening to the project, your EP, Songs For Women, Free Game For N*ggas, it sounds like Total. Bad Boy, 94-95.  Tell me more on the project and your influences. Because every time I listen to it, that’s what and who I think of first.
Jozzy: You think of Total because Pam and them are very, you know, very hardcore, masculine energy. They could sing their butts off, the tone.  When I did the project, I was really Carl Thomas’ed out. Like “Replay” is my version of Carl Thomas, Like “Summer Rain,” like that was my energy when I wrote “Replay.”  Definitely, I’m a Total fan, definitely Mary J Blige fan. Everything he did. I implemented from 112, all because I wanted to. It’s just subconsciously, that’s the shit that I like and that’s what moves me? And that was just a time for R&B because it was in the clubs and on the radio like. R&B is just.  R&B was cool, like the drug dealers could dance to R&B. The coolest dude could dance to R&B and be cool. That was the era of Puff. It was glitzy, it was glamorous. And like, I feel like that’s me. I’m a glitzy glamorous person and even when I’m in a studio with artists I’m putting my shit, I’m walking in like an artist, like, no sweats. I’m walking in like you, you know. That’s just me.


Parlé Mag:   OK, what’s next for Jozzy? Obviously, the EP’s out, but what’s next for you? What’s the next move?
Jozzy:  Next for me is shows, definitely wanna touch the people. I feel like that is like one of those moments where you really build your fan base. It’s like when they get to touch you and you can premiere new music.  I’m not done shooting videos, almost every song on the project will have a video, but definitely I’m ready to get it.  Then get back and do the album because the way people love the EP, people are calling it critically acclaimed, like this as a masterpiece. I’ve seen that so many times, so I’m thinking to myself, ‘wow, they think this is a masterpiece?!’ My album, that’s going to be even crazier because now I’ll do features.  I didn’t want any features on this project. My album, I may really choose the right features for the project to bring it to life even more. I’m excited, the ceiling is open. I’m in the game I kicked down the door! The blueprint, there’s not really a blueprint of me, you know what I’m saying? I’m excited to keep singing to women and excited to keep making men feel comfortable with a woman singing to women cause the music is so good.


Image Credits:  Ryan Malcolm-Campbell [MR.KOA]

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