With an expansive fan base and the success of his 2012 EP, “Following My First Mind,” PJ Morton has managed to create quite a buzz for himself. But the singer-songwriter, producer and Maroon 5 keyboardist is ready to kick it up a notch.
The Young Money/Soothe Your Soul Entertainment signee is prepping the release of his major label debut album, “New Orleans,” for May 14. PJ Morton’s latest single, “Only One,” premiered exclusively here on The Juice, features the legendary, Stevie Wonder, on the harmonica. Check out the song below.
“Stevie is my biggest influence,” he told Billboard of the collaboration. “Out of anybody, Stevie’s really the one that I studied the most growing up in music, so we literally tried everything to get him on the song.”
Morton said he met with Wonder personally and then followed up with the idea of the collaboration. Thanks to the positive response from both Wonder and an associate in his camp, the inclusion of the music legend on the track came to fruition.
“Someone who’s been working with him for years, a fan of my music, just really singlehandedly got him into the studio, recorded the song, and emailed it to me,” he said. “It’s really a bucket list dream for me. It’s a dream come true.”
Possessing percussion-heavy instrumentation with jazzy undertones, “Only One,” touches on the subject of love, a topic PJ Morton’s fans are familiar with.
“I’m in love with love and that’s a theme I touch on very often, so it’s more of that,” he said. “I feel like ‘Only One’ is like Kanye meets Stevie. It’s always a mash-up in that way, where I’m trying to make sure it’s things that my generation can enjoy, but it’s props to all of the music that’s come before me, that’s inspired me.”
PJ Morton plans to maintain a balance between his instrumentation and synthetic roots on upcoming album, “New Orleans,” similar to past work.
“‘New Orleans’ for me is getting back to when I initially fell in love with music and when I just did music just because I had fun doing it,” he said. “That was before I understood the radios, marketing, all of that. I thought I was going to sell one billion records just because it was good. My first major label debut album is because of that city, so I feel like ‘New Orleans’ sums up everything I wanted to say.”
Along with Stevie Wonder, “New Orleans” also features appearances from fellow YMCMB member Busta Rhymes. Regarding the direction of Mack Maine, the president of Young Money and fellow New Orleans native, key to his solo success thus far, PJ Morton hopes his run with the label will prove to be successful over time.
“It’s been a year and I think that year has been about me taking this year to do this,” he said. “I think what separates Young Money is their willingness to not touch the creative. Nobody over there puts their hands in the creative cookie jar. He [Mack Maine] is the one who believed when nobody else was paying attention over there. He made everyone pay attention.”
As the world continues to get familiar with PJ Morton, the Grammy-Award winner is confident in his ability to maximize R&B with his new material and looks forward to gaining new fans in the process.
“I get a chance and stage to show the world,” he said. “My independent fans have been rocking with me for years, it’s been incredible, and I really could have stopped there. But, now I get the chance to bring them along with me and also be introduced to a big world with many people who aren’t familiar with PJ Morton.”