Bobby Brackins Says 'My Jam,' With Zendaya & Jeremih, Will Be One of the 'Songs of the Summer'
If the music industry were a sports league, 2014 marked Bobby Brackins' breakthrough season. The Oakland, Calif., native helped pen two of the year's most acclaimed R&B tracks -- Tinashe's "2 On" and Chris Brown's "Loyal" -- which both reached the top five on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
In 2015, Brackins plans to apply his songwriting talents to aid another artist: himself. Last month, he teamed with friends Zendaya and Jeremih for "My Jam," which has risen to No. 3 on the weekly Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart. As "Jam" grows in popularity and plans for his debut album develop, Billboard caught up with Brackins (with special guest Zendaya) to discuss "Jam," his songwriting success and goals for his career both onstage and behind-the-scenes.
As a songwriter and an artist, is it difficult to write a song and want to keep it for yourself?
No, not really. Honestly, all I'm interested in are singles, because those are the songs that get heard. If I'm doing a song for someone else, and they have the infrastructure to make it a huge song, then be my guest -- you can have it. As long as I'm doing songs that have a push behind them, I'm down, because that's how you leave your mark. I'm not gonna be like, "Oh, I need to keep this for myself."
Last year, with "2 On" and "Loyal," was a great year for your songwriting. What was 2014 like for you?
It was cool because "2 On" and "Loyal" weren't just some of the biggest songs of the summer, but they were some of the coolest songs. A lot of songs get big because they have label dollars behind them, but they're not necessarily cool. I feel like "2 On" and "Loyal" are going to be played in the clubs next summer. So, it's cool to have two records that not only did well, but people can relate to them. Like Nelly "Ride with Me," you're still gonna party to them whenever you hear them. I want to make songs that people actually love, that they want to hear five, ten years from now.
So what makes a song "cool" to you?
A cool song is a song that basically people love without knowing it has a huge label push or the artist have a great manager. People are just gonna love it regardless.
What songs are cool right now?
Well, I've worked on a bunch of new music now. We just did a new song for Austin Mahone, and I think it's going to be his big radio-breakout song. My new single, "My Jam," is going to be one of those cool songs. People are going to want to hear it ten years from now, just because it's such a great record.
How did "My Jam" come together?
Well, I sent the record to Z [Zendaya] because I thought she'd sound great on it, and she did. She came over the next week and we knocked it out. I wanted Jeremih to be on it, to be big, to be one of those major collaborations. "My Jam" is going to be one of the biggest songs of the summer, hands down. You can mark my words.
That's a big claim.
Yep. It's gonna build up during the spring, and during the summer, it's gonna be one of those songs that comes on, and it will a mood changer. You're gonna be jamming, people are gonna be ready to have a good time.
Zendaya, you and Bobby have worked together on a number of projects. It seems like you two have a genuine partnership.
Zendaya: It's always great working with Bobby; he's just a really cool dude. I knew I wanted to do "My Jam" right away, 'cause I thought it was a dope song. I was working at a dance rehearsal, I played it out loud, and my dancers went nuts.
What plans do you have to keep the buzz going?
Brackins: After "My Jam," I'm just going to put out another song for the people and keep it going. Music I compare to surfing: It's like waves. You've got to pick the perfect wave, wait for it and ride it. "My Jam" is the perfect wave. So once we have that next perfect song, we're gonna put it out. I'll be out there on the road performing as well, "My Jam" and I'm excited about the song "Hot Box" I've got out with G-Eazy. After I wrap up a few more singles, I'll definitely be putting out a project -- a full body of music.
"Hot Box" has made some moves too. What's it been like working with G-Eazy?
Man, G-Eazy is dope. He's from Oakland too, Zendaya is from Oakland. A lot of things are happening out here, which is cool, because Oakland's a really cultural city that doesn't get as much shine as it deserves. He's a talented dude. His fans love him to death.
As these tracks take off, what do you see as your ultimate goal for your career?
A bunch of Grammys, man. Grammys, MTV Awards, whatever – because I'd love to know I have the recognition and approval of the industry. Of course, I'd like to have hits myself, but I also want to have a hand in breaking as many artists as I can. There'd be no better feeling like looking out at huge artists and thinking, "Man, I had a hand in building that success."