Austin Eyeing Blige Duet For 'Ocean Drive'
In-demand R&B songwriter Johnta Austin will on Oct.17 release his So So Def/Virgin artist debut, "Ocean Drive." The album boasts production by Jazze Pha, Scott Storch and Jermaine Dupri, who produIn-demand R&B songwriter Johnta Austin will on Oct.17 release his So So Def/Virgin artist debut, "Ocean Drive." The album boasts production by Jazze Pha, Scott Storch and Jermaine Dupri, who produced lead single "Turn It Up."
To polish off the disc, Austin will head to the studio this week to record with Mary J. Blige, with whom he co-wrote her single "Be Without You." Austin also helped pen Mariah Carey's No. 1 hit "We Belong Together.” The album’s title is taken from the name of the popular strip in Miami's South Beach.
"It went from being just a strip to being the mentality of the project," the Atlanta native tells Billboard.com. "When you think of Ocean Drive, you think of a place that's really sexy and fun, with good weather and pretty people. It just sounds like a place you want to be, so this album goes with that."
Album cuts include the Storch-produced "Up In My Room" and "Dope Fiend," which Austin says is about "how a woman can be addictive."
"There are a couple tracks I rap on but it's definitely more down the R&B lane," he adds. "We tried to put ourselves in the mind-frame of what Marvin Gaye would listen to or Mary [J. Blige] -- a love-oriented album."
Austin's recent songwriting credits include Jessica Simpson's current single "A Public Affair" and several tracks on Janet Jackson's upcoming Virgin set, “20 Years Old. He and Bryan Michael Cox penned two new tracks for a repackaged version of Blige's "The Breakthrough" (Geffen), and Austin is also collaborating with Enrique Iglesias and Chris Brown.
"It really wasn't hard to write for myself because we had a direction for the project," he says. "I've been writing for the last 11 years and to be honest, a lot of the records [on my album] were done for somebody else. But once Jermaine heard it, he was like, 'I don't think I want to give it to anybody [else]. It's time for you to be an artist.'"