With his 40th birthday less than a week away (June 3), Lyfe Jennings has a lot for which to be thankful. After being locked up for ten years at the young age of 19, the Toledo, Ohio-bred singer came out a man on fire, channeling a lifetime of tumult into his critically acclaimed debut album Lyfe 268-192 (his ID number while he was locked up).
Seven years and four albums later, it appeared things couldn't be better for the controversial crooner. But just like life, Lyfe isn't always perfect. The multi-platinum hitmaker was incarcerated again, this time for a fiery confrontation with his ex-girlfriend that turned physical. He announced his retirement and began serving his time only to find that he had too much music still inside him to keep from his fans.
Now, with a new single, a new baby boy and a rejuvenated sense of passion for making sweet music to our ears, Lyfe Jennings is, once again, back. And this time the "Statistics" singer assures us it's for good.
In an exclusive interview with BET.com, the venerable veteran opens up about his new song — the infectious "Boomerang" — his new tour and why he feels R&B needs him. For those that don't believe in second chances, Lyfe just might change your mind.
BET.com: How has the fan response been since you've been back home?
Lyfe: It's been great, man. I didn't know what to expect, but it's good to be missed.
What's been the biggest change in your life since you've been home?
The biggest change right now is just getting back on the road. That's really it, getting back on the road heavy, trying to balance being on the road and my kids.
No doubt. Speaking of "getting back," you're coming back to R&B at a time when it's at an extreme high. In addition to new artists like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and Miguel, there's been the re-emergence of Justin Timberlake and D'Angelo (hopefully). Do you think there is any void in the genre right now and, if so, what do you plan to bring that will fill it?
The truth! I think everybody is doing wonderfully, but everybody is still creating music about love and the club. We go through a much larger variety of things in our lives and to me [the music] doesn't necessarily reflect that; it only reflects those two portions.
Nice. So you're planning on bringing more versatility to the subject matter?
I'm planning on bringing more real life situations. Stuff that you can grow from, not just stuff to listen to, but something you can live to.
We could all use some of that these days. In the past, you've collaborated with a lot of other artists. Moving forward, who is one person, R&B or hip-hop, that you would want to do a song with?
In the past I know you did some producing both on your own records and for other artists. Are you currently doing any production for other artists?
In terms of producing, not really. I just recently started getting back in the studio and doing stuff with other people. I just did something with Wale that's on his album that's coming out soon. And that's just my first one, but there's going to be more after that.
You said you're getting back on the road. Are you heading out on your own or with other artists?
I've got some dates coming up with Erykah Badu and some dates with Avant.
And one last question: What advice would you give to young musicians coming up?
I think for a new cat coming into the game it's important that they know the difference between having a moment and having a career, and you have to continue to make the songs that are gonna give you a career.
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(Photo: Scott Gries/Getty Images)