The trouble with being able to emulate and blend in to so many sounds, is you get “lost in the sauce.” You can easily lose your own sound or lose sight of who you are when you spend such a large percentage of your time supporting other artist’s dreams. What I have learned on my journey, and I wish I had learned it sooner is, as Oprah says, run your own race. You gotta figure out your lane early in the game, and then NO MATTER WHAT, you must then stay in it. Commit. Fully. I wish I’da learned that lesson earlier in my life. I hope that this story inspires some other young aspiring artist to do some serious soul searching and figure out who they are first and foremost. No fame, no money, no “situation” can save you from this. If you don’t know who you are, you will lose yourself. Stay strong youngn’s. <3
So here’s the story:
I was living bi-coastally between New York and LA for a time. Macy Gray was “courting” me. In other words she was putting me in sessions with a bunch of different producers and we were thinking about moving me over to LA more permanently and signing a recording contract with her record label. But first we just worked together. You often do that to see if you have chemistry with someone.
At the time, I was also touring on and off with Roberta Flack, Joss Stone, Irish soul singer Laura Izibor, Omar Lyefook from the UK, Jonas from Denmark, The Brand new Heavies and sometimes I would sub for Macy’s background singers ’cause I knew her show like the back of my hand. So there wasn’t a whole of down time. Honestly, looking back, I have no idea how I juggled it all. Keep in mind, I was constantly extending each tour by adding “Honey” shows at the front of back of them in an effort to build my name and stay relevant. So whatever studio time we got was precious.
“Whatcha wanna work on today?” Macy would ask.
“Oh I don’t know, I’m sure we’ll come up with something” I would say.
I had a song I would perform at all my shows called “Hold You Down.” It was bluesy soulful and from the heart and it gave me space to sing my ass off while trying to pass along a good message and some positive energy. Macy loved that song and suggested we record it with one of her favorite producers, Printz Board, of the Black Eyed Peas.
“Great Idea!” I was excited to give it a stab since I had written it so long ago and never recorded it. She made the calls and set it up. We were scheduled for that afternoon.
We went in the studio, and started working. We spent a lot of time trying to create a “studio” version of the song, cause I was used to a very raw, un-produced sound. Printz plays keys and trumpet and he added layer after layer. I was thankful that he didn’t know the song before we went in ’cause he was able to really approach it with a fresh perspective. One of the co-producers went in the booth to play tambourine. It was my first time really listening to placement and dynamics of tambourine. Like the infamous cow bell “you’re gonna want more of that-trust me!” (high five✋🏽to any one who understands that reference 😆) Macy got in the booth and laid down some really high notes in the stack of “Doo Doo Doo’s” that made up the chorus. It was really coming together.
I kept pinching myself. I was actually “the artist” everyone was in the studio creating for. I was so used to being in the studio for Macy’s projects or for some other artists project and I had dreamt of being the one a bunch of talented people got together on behalf of for ever. Deep down there was a part of me that didn’t believe I was worth it or that I deserved it. But there I was, working with these dope ass folks, and I still couldn’t believe it.
I will never be able to thank Macy enough for giving me that chance and furnishing me with that experience. The finished product turned out to be extremely different than the original version. But both have a “thing” about them. And no matter which way you flip it, its still super easy to listen to.
Neither version was ever released but as a big THANK YOU for being one of my subscribers, I want to give you a copy of the studio version FREE- no strings attached.
I would love to know what you think of it, and if you’re in the mood for a challenge, I dare you to listen to the acoustic version too and let me know which style you prefer.
And of course if you like either of those and you want to keep the “irie” vibes going, you might wanna go listen to my latest album, 11:11. It’s chock full of good moods and happy feelings. I promise.
No matter what, I hope you enjoy the music.