While he was in New York contributing his writing skills to some artists here in the city, Jive recording artist John Blu took some time out to talk to YouKnowIGotSoul about his path to becoming an artist, the benefit of being a triple threat, “In Love Wit Yo Booty” becoming a strip club anthem, what to expect on his debut album, being an “R&B Bully” and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your bio mentions you grew up singing in church. When did you first realize you wanted to be a singer for a career?
John Blu: Actually I didn’t grow up singing in church, I grew up in the church though. I actually didn’t start singing until later on down the line and it all started with me actually playing the piano. From playing the piano I went to playing the drums and then to producing and then to writing and then from rapping to singing. Music has always been a passion of mine since the age of two or three.
YKIGS: Talk about how you were originally discovered and what led to your signing.
JB: The hardworking grind just trying to stay and keep my name out there and doing whatever it took to brand John Blu. Eventually I ran into an independent company called AAU, which stands for All About Us Productions and Records. They pretty much put me under their umbrella and we pretty much grinded the wheel together to get back to the whole street promo, flooding the DJs with the records, keeping the records inside the clubs, and from there attacking radio and trying to get BDS. So we just worked together and eventually it got the major label’s attention.
YKIGS: As someone who is a triple threat, singer/songwriter/producer, talk about how you honed each of these crafts growing up. How did you develop these skills?
JB: It’s a God’s gift, everything is pretty much a gift from God. I never took lessons anywhere, I never took vocal training, it was all just a gift like I said. I grew up in a crib that had a piano so at the age of two I would always start pecking and trying to play what I heard on the radio. From there, it went to playing the drums and beating on stuff all the time, it started with the table knocking at school and spitting rhymes over the table beats. From there, the singing just came into play. I wasn’t actually good in the beginning, but within time I got better. I was really shy as a kid growing up so I was kinda skeptical if I should do this, but I just stayed pursuing it and eventually I got better at my craft and my gift made room for me.
YKIGS: Talk about how being a triple threat makes you more marketable as an artist. A lot of artists out there maybe can only sing or produce, but you’ve got each of the qualities. Talk about how that gives you an advantage.
JB: It definitely gives me an advantage because for one let’s say the singing doesn’t take off. You always can produce or write, and that’s even more money coming in. Or the producing might not take off and you can be a writer, and vice versa. So I just feel like you’ve got leverage when you’ve got more than one thing going on for yourself.
YKIGS: Your bio mentions you already have two projects complete, “Reverse Psychology” and “Undiscovered” and are currently working on a third project. Tell me about each of these.
JB: Well pretty much the “Reverse Psychology” happens to be my very first album which I dropped at the age of fourteen back in high school. Then after that, it was the “Undiscovered” which I dropped as my second independent album a couple of years later. The most recent I got out is the mixtape “The R&B Bully” which is crazy, I’ve got 21 bangers on there all produced by The Single Makers. That’s just a little thing to keep the buzz going and keep John Blu relevant pretty much. Right now we are in the process of working on the album.
YKIGS: You mentioned the title “R&B Bully” and I know that’s a nickname you take for yourself. How did that come about?
JB: Pretty much I call myself “The R&B Bully” but it’s really positive actually. A bully is a person who picks on someone until they get what they want out of it, so I told myself I’m going to continue to pick on the music industry until I get what I want out of it, which is success.
YKIGS: Another nickname you’ve been given by your peers is the “Collabo King.” Which has been a favorite collaboration you’ve had so far?
JB: It’s definitely been an honor to work with Gucci Mane and Twista, doing the collab with them. Also, Twista, Jeremih and all of those guys.
YKIGS: Give me some background on your current single “In Love Wit Yo Booty”.
JB: The “In Love Wit Yo Booty” record was actually my first single under my signing with Jive. The current single we’re working right now is “Cologne” featuring Twista & Gucci Mane. “In Love Wit Yo Booty” came together pretty much as a sense of humor record, a record for the clubs, and something that the women and the men could relate to. I know us as men tend to fall in love with the wrong things, and apparently it’s the booty as the physical part of a female, so that’s what made me bring that part out. *Laughs* As far as “Cologne”, I did that record because a lot of people could relate to hygiene, could relate to smelling good, so I just wanted to make that also another fun record hoping to get endorsements from cologne companies and stuff like that. I’m hoping to get a line of cologne started for myself pretty much.
YKIGS: How has the reaction been to the song “In Love Wit Yo Booty”.
JB: It’s been crazy. Strip club anthem, club anthem. It’s a feel good record and that record is pretty much for ladies with high self esteem. If you’re ugly and still happy with your body, that’s a good thing. But if you’ve got both qualities, that’s nothing but a double plus pretty much.
YKIGS: You mentioned you’re working on your debut album on Jive. What can we expect to hear on that album?
JB: An album full of singles, no album fillers. That’s one thing that I don’t specialize in, I don’t specialize in doing album fillers because sometimes you’ve got projects that have maybe only three or four songs on it that you actually like. I’m trying to make an album where I’ve got like 13 or 14 all singles; pop records, club bangers, bedroom bangers, inspirational, I’m trying to make everything a classic. So my first national project with the major label is going to be a classic.
YKIGS: Who are you working with on the album in terms of producers and collaborations?
JB: Well so far I’ve been doing all of my own production. I’ve got a writer that’s under my production company Single Makers named T-Y and we’ve been pretty much penning all of the records. So pretty much they gave me creative control and have got faith enough to believe that what I bring to the table is going to be crazy, so that’s a blessing. So as far as the features, we’re reaching out to a lot of people, like I’m reaching out to R. Kelly. We’ve got the joint with Mystikal, we’ve got the joint with Jeremih, Will from Day 26, Twista, and I’m trying for several others.
YKIGS: Talk to me about being the co-founder of Single Makers, where you have local artists come together to network, create and perfect their craft. What was your inspiration for starting this?
JB: The Single Makers is pretty much a production company that only specializes in doing singles. So if there is anyone that’s looking for a pop single, a gospel single, and r&b ballad single or whatever, just call us and contact us at TheSingleMakers@gmail.com. That company is basically formed and founded by me. What happened is I hired a writer which happened to be my business partner also T-Y, and all we do is specialize in singles pretty much.
YKIGS: As an artist who is signed on Jive now, what advice could you offer to upcoming artists who are in the struggle and trying to make it?
JB: Well definitely the first thing I would say is you’ve got to know that sacrifice comes before success, I always say that, that’s my whole preach all of the time. Also it takes teamwork to make the dream work, so basically surrounded yourself with a team that believes in you and believes in your craft and you just have to go hard together and don’t give up. It isn’t going to happen overnight so just make sure your music speaks for itself, you’ve got the team around you that believes in you, and you’ve got to be willing to give up and sacrifice in order to get success.
YKIGS: So we can expect your debut album later this year?
JB: Yea, definitely later this year.
YKIGS: Anything you’d like to add?