Growing up in the music industry can be a pain. Johnny Gill was a man before he even came of age. But after 16 years in the game, the singer is settled into his manhood and career. In an exclusive interview with BET.com, JG talked about his new album, Still Winning, his career as a solo artist and his possible reunion with New Edition.
"I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel," says the R&B singer. "This is who I am. I’m happy and I love who I am. I’m no trying to be Ne-Yo, I’m not trying to be Usher. I know who I am."
In an overcrowded R&B market where it seems to take a Chris Brown collaboration or a shocking dance move to get attention, Johnny Gill is comfortable in his own skin, and his skin isn't going to do any backflips off the stage. "I am a vocalist who sings songs that connect, and that I’m able to deliver to others. I never thought once to compromise who I am and what I do."
But Johnny Gill isn't out of touch. Having been a member of New Edition in his heyday, he can appreciate the popular guys. "I love those guys. I love all types of music," he says. "I love the new artists, as well as the greats that have been here before or after me....[but] you have to know yourself." Johnny knows that his strength is in his vocals, and his ability to pen songs that others can relate to.
On his upcoming album, which will be released on September 20, Gill is singing from experience. One track, "Second Place," is going to "shock people," he says. "When you hear the music and the vocals, and then you hear what I’m saying you go, 'Whoa. Hold on here.' In life, we’ve all been cheated on or cheated on someone. It talks about telling a woman that you’re in second place." JG says he's yet to play the song for a woman who didn't cry when she heard it.
Another song gives a new meaning to an airplane's "Black Box." Gill explains, "It’s an interesting concept. I wish love came with a black box, the black box tells you what went wrong. When you go through relationships, you ask yourself, 'where did it go wrong?' I wish I had the answers to it all."
Simple concepts such as love, relationships and life take front and center on Johnny Gill's album. And he's proud of it. Not that he won't be breaking out those dance moves soon, as talks of a New Edition reunion are finally becoming a reality. The group reunited for a special performance at this year's Essence festival in New Orleans during the July 4 weekend. "I think it’s no secret that we have internal problems. Most groups do. We’re no different than any other brothers that go through the ups and downs," he says. "Watching and seeing the response that people had, it was incredible. They realized the importance of New Edition."
Look for JG to hit the road in preparation of the release of Still Winning.
(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)