Me and Donell Jones go way back. I don’t know him personally, but I can remember vividly the sad day I played “Where I Wanna Be” to my childhood girlfriend to explain in song why we had to break up. A lame story I know… But the fact that his music was so real and relatable to everyday situations, even to a little kid in Mississippi, speaks to his talent as a writer, singer, and producer. So it was an honor and slightly surreal for me when I got a chance to talk with him about his music, the current state of R&B and more.
Q: What’s up it’s an honor to have an opportunity to talk to you. What’s the new single called? And how did my hometown guy David Banner end up featuring on it?
A: The song is called “Never Let Her Go” and the collab with David Banner seemed like it was meant to happen. I ran into him in Stone Mountain, we talked about doing some music and exchanged numbers. I called him and it happened real natural, no managers or anything involved.
Q: Can you give me a little background on the new single?
Well, on my “Where I Wanna Be” album I had a song called “Have You Seen Her”. The story behind that song was that I saw this chick at the light and she was so fly, I didn’t say nothin’. So the new song picks up 16 years later. It’s like a sequel.
Q: What’s your new album called?
A: It’s gonna be called “Twenty”. But that’s still in development, I mainly wanted to come with something… to have come from the “Unsung” episode.
Q: I feel you on that. Well, for me, growing up I always looked at you right there with the R. Kelly’s, the Joes, the Ushers, but I associate the show “Unsung” as a show highlighting artists that really didn’t get their due credit. Why Unsung?
A: Well, I just think not as many people knew me as they did those guys. I saw Unsung as an opportunity to get my story out there. Who I am and what my story is.
Q: I hear a lot of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson influence in your music. Were those major influences? And who else influenced you?
A: Definitely those two were two of my main major influences. Also the Isleys, Babyface, Alicia Myers, Jean Carne, Patrice Rushen. My Mom used to play a lot of great music… Teddy Pendergrass… I could go on for days.
Q: I, as well as, many other people loved the cover you did of Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet”. You thinking about doing any particular covers on the new album?
A: I got lucky on the Stevie cover. I promised myself I wouldn’t do any more covers because they are hit or miss.
Q: I think most people would say that popular R&B has changed since the 90s and early 2000s era. Can you pinpoint any differences between today and then?
A: The thing about the era I came into is everybody had their own sound. And everybody wrote from their own perspective. You had R. Kelly with the sex, me and Joe did the relationship stuff… you had Maxwell…
A lot of it sounds the same these days, using the same sounds and going a little 808 crazy. There was more live instrumentation in the production back in the day. But that’s not a knock on the new guys. I love the evolution. I actually think they could have held their own back in the day. I wouldn’t say R&B is better or worse now.
Q: Who stands out in the R&B game to you right now?
Q: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you, Fam. One last question, how would you describe your style?
A: My style has always been street soul. Something the guys can listen to and the females can listen to and know how we rock.
A: Dope. Thanks again.
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