R&B crooner on signing with LA Reid and working with 2 Chainz.
Not many upcoming R&B singers can brag about being signed to Tricky Stewart- one of the hottest producers in the game and catching the ear of iconic music exec – LA Reid, but Bryan Jackson can. The Hogansville, Georgia native first caught the attention of the X-Factor judge after signing with Tricky’s Redzone Entertainment in 2008. After an impromptu performance on atop the record mogul’s pool table, Bryan J’s musical destiny began to take shape. Now, after years of grooming and tutelage, the 23-year-old singer is prepping his long awaited debut. The singer caught up with BET.com to discuss his new pop-inspired single, “Watch You” with 2 Chainz.
So how did you end up performing on L.A. Reid’s pool table and did you take your shoes off first?
[Laughs] Well I signed with Tricky in December  and four months later LA Reid heard the music and he flew me up to New York for a meeting, and I performed for him on his pool table right in the middle of his game. He was like “man this kid’s going to be alright” and he signed me. I was at Island Def Jam with them, and both of them ended up going over to Epic and I was kind of caught in the middle for a second trying to leave Island. But once I got out I signed with them over at Epic and now it’s a whole new chapter from here.
Outside of the label switch, you’ve spent a lot of time working with Tricky and The Dream, what's it like being in the studio with such heavyweight producers?
It’s an honor to be working with somebody that’s a creative genius like Tricky, but it can be very intimidating. When I first started doing music and signed with him it was difficult because he’s a genius and he’s grinding all the time so I would be a little nervous with the input- like what if I put this melody over here and he doesn’t like it. But he would always tell me “be yourself man, you’re a star, you just have to find it, tap into it, and stay there.” He would always tell me that and after while I figured it out on my own and now I don’t ever get intimidated. Now for me it’s more exciting because I know that this is going to change my life tremendously so I make sure I put everything I have into it, because he does the same, and I don’t want to short hand him when he’s giving me everything he’s got.
Tricky has a hefty catalogue of R&B music but your new project has elements of pop, what made you want to blend the two genres?
The project definitely is going to be a mixture of pop and R&B, but not too much pop to where I’m sounding like everybody else. I’m trying to bring those good traditional, real concepts back into music but on an R&B tip. Trick is a giant and he’s great with that whole imagery, but I got in with Rodney “Darchild” Jerkins and Brian Kennedy to help too.
Who’s idea was it to team up with 2 Chainz’s on “Watch You”?
I’ve met him [2 Chainz] a number of times, the last time we chopped it up was at the airport right before I moved out here to LA from Atlanta. But I had this record and all I had was the first verse and the hook melody, and it’s this part in the song that would come on and I would always be like “2 Chainzzzzzz” and everybody would look at me like I was tripping but I always thought it would be a perfect fit. Now I feel like I spoke it into existence because my A&R ran into him at the Rock The Bells in LA and he told him about me and was like we need you to jump on this record and Tit was like yeah I know Bryan J, and he sent in his verse literally that night. It’s crazy how it all happened, right when his album was the #1 record in the country he jumped on my record. I’m still like wow.
Who else did you tap for the project?
I’m waiting for something back from Lil Wayne and Drake.
Do you have a title and release date for the EP?
We don’t know yet. We’re still figuring it out. I think it’s going to jump out at me. The music is coming from a real place and stories about my life, things I’ve gone through or been around. We’ve got some big plans I don’t want to give away too much but it’s going to be huge.
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(Photo: Courtesy Epic Records)