Although many elite r&b groups began to pop up on the music scene in the mid to late 90’s, it’s Jagged Edge who has withstood the rest and remained together with their original lineup through it all. The group has always seemed to go about their business through the years with a humble swagger and has allowed their allowed their music to speak for itself. For that reason, when Kyle recently spoke out on Twitter about leaving the group, it took many including myself for surprise and it was so unexpected. Luckily for music fans and r&b lovers alike, the situation quickly blew over and the group remains intact. With the release of their seventh album, the group hopes they have “The Remedy” for those who aren’t satisfied with the current state of r&b. In this interview, we discuss what to expect on their new album “The Remedy”, their thoughts on the current state of r&b, their new situation on Slip-N-Slide Records, lesson they’ve learned through the years, the origin of Kyle’s statement on leaving the group, and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: First let’s talk about your new album “The Remedy”. Compare this album to your previous albums and talk about how the music compares to your previous work.
Jagged Edge (Wingo): Comparing this to our previous music, basically it’s vintage Jagged Edge BUT there are some differences. We’ve got some new features on there, we went with some different producers on the new album outside of what we’ve done in the past and we’re also touching on some different topics. We’re really big on relationships and topics so at the end of the day we’re going to hit you with all realms of the relationship and just things that go on in a relationship. Things that you want to go on, things that you’ve experienced with the one you love or the one you have loved.
YKIGS: Your bio mentions that this album “The Remedy” is a rebirth of music. Do you also see it as a rebirth of the group as well?
Jagged Edge (Wingo): Well some of our fans do because we’ve been away for a couple of years as far as putting an album out, so our fans maybe feel that way. But we really don’t, every album the music will go through a rebirth because the sounds and music changes through the years. We just try to incorporate what music has to offer with what we have to offer, and hopefully a beautiful rose can be grown out of it. At the end of the day, the rebirth factor, we strive for that with every album.
YKIGS: You guys have been this industry a long time and have been making music for over 10 years. With the way that r&b music has changed since you’ve been out, have you ever felt pressured to change your style of music and do something more commercial sounding?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): Honestly, what we know about music is, when you touch somebody that’s as commercial as it gets. All we ever try to is strike a chord. My brother said this a couple of weeks ago, when you strike a chord as with an audience and it’s a few million people, all you’re trying to do from that point on is re-energize that relationship and strike that chord again. For us, the way we’ve been able to do it is talking about things that are real to people. I know the term real is so overused but the way we stay relevant is talking about things that mean something to people, not just sex. Now we’ve got our share of that too, I don’t think there are a lot of r&b acts that don’t, but at the same time we’ve got a lot of songs that are about the real side of relationships too, not just getting into bed.
YKIGS: Yea, I was reading in your bio how you feel that a lot of the music on the radio focuses sex, which is true, and you guys want to bring a return to “black love” on this new album. Why do you feel like r&b has gone in that direction?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): I think it’s the same reason for every industry in our country, sex sells and we know that. I think in music it’s the same thing but the sad thing about it is the music audiences continue to get younger and younger and the people that control the music are the kids. Just like the videos you see on 106 & Park every day, the kids are the ones who are calling in and making the votes. So when that’s the case, I think we’ve got more responsibility to bring that love side of r&b music. It’s been there before Jagged Edge or Chris Brown or whoever, it’s been there. At the same time, we’ve got a responsibility to give them that meaningful side too. I don’t think they would object to it if they had a chance to hear more of it.
YKIGS: Being a veteran r&b group, do you feel it’s challenging being in your new situation on Slip-N-Slide Records which is a label primarily known for hip hop projects?
Jagged Edge (Brian): For us it’s just when we left the Def Jam situation, we were heavily looking and threw our name in the ring and let people know we were looking for a new situation. Of the people who reached out, we didn’t feel like anybody was more energized and interested than Ted Lucas. I mean, Ted Lucas basically came to us and professed how much of a fan he was, how much he loved the music and how much he wanted to see us do our thing. A lot of other places were offering good situations but they wanted to control more of it and we’ve always been big on having as much of a hand on it as we can have. Even if that means we are in a new relationship where it takes a little longer or takes more of a fight, that’s fine, we’ve been fighting our whole career and we’re not against fighting to make it happen. So when you’ve got people like Ted Lucas who has accomplished the things he’s accomplished show that type of love and interest, to us it seemed like a real genuine want for us to succeed and see us where in his mind we belong. We couldn’t turn our backs on that.
YKIGS: Like I mentioned you’ve been in this industry for so many years now. Is there a lesson you’ve learned over the years that’s allowed you to continue being relevant and make music?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): Stay humble and stay blessed, that’s my motto. I think our goal is to keep God first, if he’s’ the center of everything then you have no choice but to stay humble and to be in awe of who he is in your life. Like I said, if that’s at the center of it, whatever you’re going to try and do in life is going to be successful. With us being 13 or 14 years in the game, we’ve seen a lot of groups come and go, and I’m not saying we’ve been more humble than the next man, but I’m saying from day one staying humble has been something we’ve focused on.
YKIGS: Recently a couple of boy band groups, Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block, have come together to form a super group. If you guys had the opportunity to do that in r&b, link up with any other r&b group past or present, who would you choose?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): For me it would be Jodeci.
Jagged Edge (Brian): Yea I think Jodeci too. That whole concept to me when I first heard it was strange, but when you think about it, and the impact that the group had, I could see why it’s still kinda working for some people.
YKIGS: Take me back to the group’s origins in music and the story of how you originally linked up with Jermaine Dupri and signed to his label. How did he discover you?
Jagged Edge (Brian): We got our first record deal with Michael Bivens out of high school. One day we got a call from his lawyers saying he had over committed, so we could either wait it out or go pursue our own separate situation. So us being young and confident and thinking we could do something, we pursued our own situation. Really what happened was we did a demo, and Wingo went to school with Kandi from Xscape. So since they were friends anyway, he brought the demo over to her to get her take on it and see what she thought about it and she ended up falling in love with it and she kinda took it right to Jermaine. The next thing we knew Jermaine was setting up a meeting for us to come to his house and sing. So we went there and sang, we didn’t think he liked us, and we got a call an hour or two later from Jermaine saying “Don’t let them go anywhere, I want to sign them.” So that’s how it happened.
YKIGS: The group’s second album “J.E. Heartbreak” is one that many consider a classic and your best album. What do you remember most about recording that album?
Jagged Edge (Brian): That we did it fast. Honestly for it to be our best album, we’ve recorded albums that have taken a lot longer or more time to comprise the styles of music together. *Laughs* With that one, I remember us just going in everyday for what seemed like a month and almost every day when we came out of the studio with Bryan-Michael Cox and played it for people, they were like “Damn!” So that’s what I remember about that one, how easily it flowed.
YKIGS: There have been some comments on Twitter about members of Jagged Edge leaving the group. Are you guys still together and still good?
Jagged Edge (Kyle): I’m going to be a man and speak on it; sometimes you get frustrated and don’t think clearly, because like I said we’ve been doing this for 15 years. Sometimes you want certain things to go a certain way, but sometimes it’s not worth the fight. Sometimes you’ve got to go to the lord and you’ve got to ask a higher power to take over what you don’t see as clear. I wasn’t thinking clear at the time because I love my group!
Jagged Edge (Wingo): Yea, who made those stupid comments! *Laughs*
Jagged Edge (Kyle): *Laughs* I did, I did. *Laughs* But guess what, I love me some Brandon, Brian and Wingo because they are my education to be a stronger man and know what a man is. We sing r&b so therefore we sing about love songs, we sing about heartbreak, we sing about the remedy, so it’s a blessing to be a part of something that’s blessed. We leave it to recognize what we’ve left. So for me to leave was a crazy moment in my life. Everybody doesn’t get a chance to have fans, everybody doesn’t get a chance to tour the world, and everybody doesn’t get a chance to have three friends that love you dearly. They are my brothers, this is beyond friendship. So that Twitter thing, it’s my fault.
Jagged Edge (Brian): If anybody believes that it’s easy to do this for you all, and we do this for the fans, but if anybody believes that it’s easy to do this for the fans, they need to come and spend a couple of weeks with us because it’s not. One of the reasons we keep it together is for the fans. We’ve all got aspirations of being successful people and that’s why we’ve joined together but it isn’t that easy and it isn’t a cakewalk to make sure we can do this every year and keep the people that did fall in love and buy into the whole Jagged Edge scenario happy. We love them enough that we’re going to keep taking stabs at it until we can’t take stabs at it anymore.
Jagged Edge (Wingo): Yea Kyle, so shut your ass up! *Laughs*
YKIGS: I definitely respect you guys for speaking on that and I’m glad you guys have stayed together and kept making music all of these years.
Jagged Edge (Brian): We appreciate you saying that, trust me.
YKIGS: Anything you’d like to add?
Jagged Edge (Wingo): We love our fans and we’ve got a new album coming out June 21st, please go get it, it’s our seventh album. If everybody that hears this interview goes to their phone and just sends one message, that the new Jagged Edge album will be out June 21st, and it goes down the line and everybody sends that out to somebody in their phone book, trust me you’ll have a happy group up here.
Jagged Edge (Brandon): R&b is on the way, that’s all we know and we’re trying to keep this r&b thing alive. Trust me, we all know it’s harder and harder everyday with the way the music industry is. But this thing called music we do love, and we love our fans, and we’re just going to keep trying our hardest at it. Tell them to just stay down with us, we love them to death.
Jagged Edge (Kyle): Let me just end it with this. Brandon, Brian, Kyle and Wingo, we are the sheriffs of r&b so we’ve got to keep this thing in line. We have an obligation to keep r&b in line.