As a part of BET Weekend, R&B sensations Jagged Edge performed here in Los Angeles. The four-man Atlanta based group is releasing their eighth studio album J.E. Heartbreak 2 this fall. Their new single “Hope,” is available now. I was able to catch up with the guys last weekend, and chopped it up with them about working on the new record, touring, and their relationship with So-So Def.
DF: You’ve been away for a while. You have a new album coming out this year, what’s it like to be back?
Brandon: It’s been great so far. We don’t feel like we’ve been away. We put out an album in 09, and an album before that in 07. For the most part we’ve just been traveling and doing this music.
DF: With the new album out this, what can fans expect to hear?
Wingo: First and foremost the album is titled J Heartbreak 2. It’s just vintage Jagged Edge, the sequel to one of our best sellers. Just expect vintage Jagged Edge with a little twist to it. So get ready, you guys are gonna like it!
DF: It’s been 14 years since the first record, how do you think you’ve changed your sound since then to now? Have you matured?
Wingo: Well the music has matured, and of course we’ve matured and grown musically. Business wise, that’s the only reason we’re still in the game. We’ve changed with the times. We’re still going to give you what we’re known for and what the fans love us for, but we’re gonna bend it a little bit.
DF: Does it bother you or make you feel some type of way that somebody my age will refer to Jagged Edge as ‘Old School’?
Brandon: Doesn’t bother us. That’s what we strive for. Someday you’re gonna be old school too.
Brian: Getting older is a good thing, people are afraid of getting older, but I know for all of us, in my opinion, older means getting better.
Wingo: It’s growth.
DF: Is the songwriting process still the same as it was in the beginning?
Brandon: It is. Outside of the fact that we haven’t used an actual pen and pad in 10-12 years. But the way we construct our songs in terms of a piece of music that we like or a progression that we like and try to write around that. Or sometimes we come in with a title and write around that. So I think our process is just being open and being free with it.
DF: There’s not a lot of groups out there, especially in R&B. How does it feel being one of few?
Wingo: It feels great, there’s no competition. All the perks go to you. And we appreciate that! We set out early to be one of the only groups out and a household name.
Brandon: From day one that was always our goal. We’ve been chipping away at that goal— and we still chippin’!
DF: What producers will be appearing on the new record?
Wingo: We merged with So-So Def. So we had to go back and get the household names. The guys who helped us do the first project- Jermaine Dupri, Brian Michael Cox, Brian and Brandon Casey. Ultimately that’s the sound and that’s what we wanna give you.
DF: That’s a great Segway into my next question. So-So Def has seen some changes in the past few years. How does that affect Jagged Edge?
Kyle: We started with JD, when he did his thing with Def Jam, we went to Def Jam. We understood things are not always meant to be. In your dreams you’re probably thinking you’ll be one way forever, but business doesn’t always work that way. That’s when your faith really kicks in. “God what are we going to do?” Us being God fearing brothers, we got caught up in a situation where JD had left Columbia, and we were like “Is he coming to get us?” But we had to pull our boots together and be men.
Brandon: We understood that we were money makers at that parent label, and they weren’t just gonna let us go. If you look at it from that stand point, in the business realm, how can you be mad at JD?
DF: It sounds like as JD’s gone different places he’s taken you guys with him? Is that true?
Brandon: It’s possible. A couple times we were under contract and couldn’t go. Whenever he leaves, and we’re free to go, we’ll go. The relationship was never broke, it was really the decisions that he made to distribute his record label. Once he left, Columbia was like “We built this group up, we spent the money, and we’re not letting them go like that.”
DF: You’re on a new tour now, here in L.A. this weekend and New Orleans next weekend. Who are you on the road with this time?
Brian: Well it’s really by ourselves. We got a new single out which is entitled “Hope.” But we’re doing shows with everybody.
Brandon: Sometimes you end up on the same bill as other artists, but this is not really a tour.
DF: Congratulations on the new single “Hope.” Great song with a great subject matter. On the album will you still have songs with similar subject matter to “Where Da Party At?”
Brian: Not necessarily similar. But, you will get some party records from us. We never wanna be just one sided. It’s funny because when we first came out we thought we were gonna do all ballads.
Brandon: When we first got signed, JD was like “We need more ballads!” (laughs)
Kyle: Cowbell! We need more cowbell!
DF: I think the most ironic thing is that when you think of Jagged Edge, you think of “Where Da Party At!” What advice do you have to the younger generation of R&B artists? I’m talking about guys like Chris Brown and Mack Wilds. If any up-and-coming kids are doing this looking at y’all, What do you have to say to them?
Brian: Keep doing what you doing. All those people you named are awesome artists, who all have something unique about them. But always have in our mind that you’re building a career. So you don’t want to go too hard with any one trend, or any one direction unless you absolutely believe it in your heart.
DF: Is there anything else you guys wanted to say?
Wingo: We love our fans man, and support your artists. That’s best thing you can do. It’s our eighth album, late September it’s going down—Jagged Edge Heart Break II.