TRU TO THE GAME
We sit with “I want you” r&b superstar Lloyd and talk about why he took a personal sabbatical at the height of his career and reinvented himself. But above all, how he still remains “Tru” to the game today.
Words by: Richard Coyle
Snaps by: Leah Moriyama
“Southside” crooner and R&B superstar Lloyd is back with his new EP “Tru.” Baring your heart on wax is daunting for any artist, yet Lloyd is able to do so in spades. The “BedRock” singer released his first single in 5 years and his latest installment titled “Out My Window” is slated to be Lloyd’s first studio album since 2011. Lloyd soared to new heights when his last album “King of Hearts” came out in 2011.
A throwback to the golden age of R&B, Lloyd is one of the most prolific singers today especially in a time where the term R&B seems to have lost its luster and has taken a backseat to production. Through it all, the art of lyricism seems to have been lost. Not too long ago, the “Lay It Down” and “Cupid” singer was headlining the pop charts and his self-imposed fall from grace ensued shortly after. It seemed like Lloyd randomly disappeared off the face of the earth. What people didn’t realize was that Lloyd was going through some internal changes and needed to take care of his home team first. Going through some personal changes and his record label situation, Lloyd is back. In all honesty, he never left. While it’s been some time since he released a project, Lloyd fills us in about what he’s been up to as of late and breaks down his new single.
Sorting out his emotions and feelings, Lloyd talks about the process of how “Tru” came about. Speaking candidly about everything that’s been going on in his life, Lloyd begins things up by verbally navigating through some his personal issues that have transpired for the past few years. “The creative process for Tru was how can I have a conversation in a song for one, and then what is that conversation about? Well, the only answer for me and still remains is what is honestly going on with myself. What am I feeling? What am I trying to overcome and to look at it from a completely introspective standpoint.”, says Lloyd. Intelligent and well-spoken, Lloyd talks to Tokewell about how he needed to surround himself with the right people and reinvent himself. We also touch on how Lloyd still often talks to Ashanti and Ja Rule who have both continued to support his career even after their time at Murder Inc. ended. “I questioned if things would ever be able to be the same. Those two have always been there for me.”, he responds. Lloyd also explains why “green” is one of his favorite colors from the “herbal” connotation to his vegan lifestyle. Lloyd takes time out of his jet-set schedule to give us his first interview of 2017. He gives us an emotionally-charged and introspective interview and allows us in from Out his Window.
What made you spark an interest in music growing up?
I think it was inherited first and foremost from my parents. My father was a saxophonist, he was a jazz musician, he was a choir director at his baptist church in New Orleans. My mom, ever since I can remember, up until about the age of 8 or 9 singing in the church choir. So I would say they were my first influences. Even though I lost my father when I was younger, I feel like my mom influences me a lot and still can see some of my father’s reflections of him in me and through me.
Being in the industry for as long as you have, how has music changed or evolved from when u got into the industry and how it is now?
I think that surprisingly from where I stand, someone who has been in the game for more than 10 yrs and who’s had the beautiful opportunity to release numerous albums, I would say that one thing that I’ve noticed that has changed is the level of appreciation for the gifts that we’ve been given as artists. I don’t really see many people take these opportunities for granted. It’s like being able to learn from the stories of the ones that came before us good and bad. I think that today, an artist is much more aware and conscious about where they stand and what they represent, and who they doing it for, why they are doing it and I think that shows their entrepreneurship more than ever. I think that’s amazing.
Who are some artists that have influenced you or have inspired you?
For me the word artist, first of all, would take on so many different forms, It’s not just a musical artist, it’s painters composers, most of my first influencers were producers who were people who gave me the opportunity to just sit and watch them work from a very young age. Like Dallas Austin for instance, was one of the first major influencers that I had musically because I was able to watch him be a true creator from the sound, to the direction of the whole project as a producer. You know a lot of people might not know who he is, but people who make music definitely know who he is, but I think that’s really cool to mention him even though he’s not in the forefront all the time. I teamed up with him and we put up studios in some of the public schools and I performed. I just thought that he was definitely one of the dopest people growing up to me. Michael Jackson of course, and I inherited that definitely from my Mom who would write him letters as a little girl. As I got older I discovered more of the Motown sound, and now that I’m able to buy all the records I ever wanted, I realize that a lot of my biggest influencers now are everybody. I mean everybody that’s just making music. I listen to almost everybody and everything I can get my hands on.
As a lot of us know, you broke through as a successful solo artist under the label Murder Inc with labelmates Ja Rule and Ashanti. How is your relationship with them now and do you still keep in contact?
Yeah, absolutely! I remember the first concert that I did in New York City. I remember Ja and Ashanti came out and performed years ago and that was crazy because everybody thought that there was no love, and even myself I’ll admit there were times when I questioned if things would ever be able to be the same. Those two have always been there for me. Recently, I performed for them and with them. Ashanti flew down at the last min to perform with me in Atlanta. Me and Ja performed and that was amazing to me.
You recently dropped a new EP called “TRU”, what was the creative process like going into that project?
The creative process for TRU was how can I have a conversation in a song for one, and then what is that conversation about? Well, the only answer for me and still remains is what is honestly going on with myself. What am I feeling? What am I trying to overcome and to look at it from a completely introspective standpoint? To focus the idea was to maybe even use music just like it’s a reflection of so many things in my life and the fact that I record under my name. I don’t have a dope moniker to hide behind so, to embrace the fact that this is me, Although there are parts of my life that people don’t know of I choose not to let them identify with that’s personal in some shape form or fashion. People will always feel that they know who I am because of my music, and I think my name representing me is a big part of that. Also, how can I connect with the people I’ve grown up to admire so much which are every day, honest, hardworking people you know. How can I connect with them and not be selfish in my endeavors and that truly is the best expression I could manifest.
What are your thoughts on cannabis legalization?
Being a vegetarian and sometimes vegan, there aren’t too many things I found green to be that bad [laughs] It seems to be a very good color of growth [laughs]. I’m not an advocate of anything in particular, but what I am an advocate of people’s right to express themselves, the right to find peace and their right to live inside of truth. I’ll always think it’s silly to outlaw marijuana when there are other things out there much worse.
What’s your personal relationship with marijuana?
I can say that I’ve partaken in marijuana since I was younger and even though my tolerance isn’t what it’s used to be but I will revisit it Kush from time to time. I realize that unlike Wiz or Snoop, I cannot smoke before a show and perform. My mouth is just dry. It’s not a good idea but it showed me how amazing how liberating it can be. The south is probably going to be the last place that will legal. Talk to me about your relationship with King Louie. He’s an old friend of mine. He’s somebody I talk to a lot. He educates me on the game in terms of how cultivators are on the west coast and how the grind is. I admire him for being a hard worker and somebody of integrity. He’s helping people more so than anything else.
What are your favorite strains and do you prefer to roll flower or vape?
I love my Jetty Extracts vape pen. As a vocalist, any time you can reduce carcinogens, it’s achieving your goal. Also, I appreciate how science and technology have changed the way we medicate from the intake to the lifestyle. as far as strains go, King Louie is my shit. I’m a joint guy for sure.
Anything else you’d like to add for your readers?
Today is as good of a day to count one’s blessings and always keep perspective and let that fear and hatred breeds misunderstandings. I am thankful that I am able to eradicate some of those misconceptions through my music.
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