Never Say 'Never'

"Not much has changed. It's like going from momma's house to daddy's house. And like a daddy in the waiting room pacing back and forth, I can't wait for my baby to come out."

"Not much has changed. It's like going from momma's house to daddy's house. And like a daddy in the waiting room pacing back and forth, I can't wait for my baby to come out." That's how former Warner Bros. artist Jaheim describes his segue to sister Atlantic Records and the impending release of his first project for the label, "The Makings of a Man."

"Never," the fast-moving lead single and wedding-anthem-in-the-making, is No. 21 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart this week. Produced by Daniel Farris of Earfull Music/Woodworks, it is one of several first-time collaborations for the multiplatinum singer, who also produced four cuts on the album. Joining longtime Jaheim collaborator KayGee (Naughty by Nature) are R. Kelly, Babyface, Keyshia Cole, Ivan Barias and Carvin Haggins of Karma Productions (Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott) and Jasper Cameron (Nelly, Christina Aguilera).

"This is what's so different about 'Makings' and my previous albums," Jaheim says. "I'm not saying we didn't have hit records before. We were doing our own thing and blessed to do that." However, Atlantic chairman/CEO Craig Kallman, president Julie Greenwald and others at the label "put their hands on this album, taking it to another level."

Signed to Warner Bros. division Divine Mill in the late '90s, Jaheim (his last name is Hoagland) immediately drew comparisons to soulful crooners Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross with his hot buttered-rum vocals. That, paired with his rapper image/dress, spawned the genre nickname "thug R&B" and three albums chronicling inner-city life. Combined, they have sold more than 3.5 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.