“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,” released today (Dec. 18). “Never,” the fast-moving lead single and wedding-anthem-in-the-making, is No. 32 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart after just seven weeks.
Produced by Daniel Farris of Earfull Music/Woodworks, “Never” 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.”
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.
The first was 2001’s “Ghetto Love,” featuring the singles “Could It Be” and “Just in Case.” That was followed in 2002 by “Still Ghetto” (with the hits “Fabulous” and “Put That Woman First”) and 2006’s “Ghetto Classics” (including the singles “Everytime I Think About Her” and “Chosen One”). Combined, they have sold more than 3.5 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Pookie is quick to point out that the album holds no left-field surprises, like a 102-beats-per-minute record, and that he and Jaheim don’t mind the continual comparisons to Vandross and Pendergrass. In fact, the new album includes a song, “Really Love,” dedicated to Vandross, who was Jaheim’s major musical influence. Another track features original music from the vaults of legendary Philadelphia songwriter/producers Gamble & Huff.
Prior to the release of “Never,” Jaheim appeared on the Atlantic soundtrack to the recent Tyler Perry film “Why Did I Get Married?,” starring Janet Jackson and Jill Scott, among others. Plans are also afoot for Jaheim to move into film. Though negotiations have stalled owing to the writers strike, Jaheim is due to star in a music business-oriented film through Paramount based on a true story.
In the meantime, with four albums under his belt, Jaheim is intent on fulfilling his own musical prophecy: “Anything can happen but, God willing, I see myself doing this for the next 30 years.”