Last year, Jacquees invited a wave of criticism after he declared himself the king of R&B. Though he considered his brash anointment a moment of honesty, R&B vets such as Keith Sweat, Tank, and Ne-Yo scoffed at his assessment.
“I never felt like I OD’ed [with my comment] because I ain’t do shit,” Jacquees tells Billboard. “All I said was that I’m the king of R&B for my generation.”
Despite the verbal jabs he suffered, Que marched on and sculpted a well-received debut album with 4275. The 18-track effort was a modest flex for Jacquees, who penned heartwarming ballads about love as a twenty-something bachelor. “I think I put together the best male R&B album,” Que told us last year of 4275. “I think it was real structured. Like from the intro all the way to the end. Even the R&B artists that I put on it, I feel like I kind of opened the door for R&B, for real, because everybody was kind of playing around with it. This was strictly R&B.”
A year later, Jacquees is still humming that same tune regarding his king of R&B status — to a point where the Decatur crooner titled his sophomore album King of R&B. Though Que is no longer roaming the streets as a single man — he and Dreezy became an item last year — his confidence in roping together love anthems remains firm.
“With the King of R&B album, I took things up a notch. It’s more of an uptempo record, but it’s still more on the same vibe,” he says. “I don’t wanna make my albums sound the same. So I try to make my projects sound different. Of course, with the same vibe, but different.”
For round two, Que’s decision to go uptempo worked to his benefit. On “Risk It All,” he and Tory Lanez vow to be devoted partners to their respective women, while on “Verify,” featuring Young Thug and Gunna, the Georgia trio search for their ideal ride-or-die companions. No matter the BPM or topic at-hand, Jacquees believes he still reigns supreme within the R&B circuit.
“I hate when people try to make it seem like, ‘Oh, Jacquees think he’s better than other people.’ No, bruh. I’m the king,” he declares. “That’s all it is. I’m the king of R&B. Now, that’s not saying I have more No. 1 hits than you or this than you, nah n—a, I’m just the king.”
Billboard spoke to Jacquees about his new album King of R&B, his one-on-one chat with Keith Sweat, YK Osiris calling him out and how being in a relationship helped his creativity.
You doubled down on your stance of being the king of R&B with the title of your sophomore album. What strides have you made since last year to cement that status?
I wouldn’t even just say that it picked up from last year. I would say it stems from the beginning of my career to now. Last year we dropped 4275, and that was just a start. That was my first album, official. I feel like that solidified me as real R&B artist for the game. When I say for the game, I feel like there’s two levels of the game: there’s the underground and the real side. So I was dropping stuff on the underground and 4275 was my real project on the mainstream. But we grew from there. The fans knew, “Okay, Jacquees bringing this kind of R&B back.”
What made you decide to call your album King of R&B?
The album was called Round 2. The only reason I switched it was because of controversy. I am the king of R&B for my generation, but I’m like, ‘Well, no one has ever named an album, King of R&B. I might as well be the first. I’m the first one to run around and say I’m the king of R&B. No disrespect to the other kings of R&B, but I never heard it. So for my generation, I wanted to do it before somebody else did it.
A couple of weeks ago, you paid homage to a lot of R&B greats from the past on your Instagram. Why was it important to highlight those that came before you?
Honestly, my mother told me. She said, “You should show love to the OGs and post the legends right before your album comes out since you naming it King of R&B. You should show humility.” I was like, “You right,” and I posted a couple of my favorite people. I started with Michael Jackson and ended with Chris Brown.
What was your mom’s reaction to the king of R&B controversy?
She was with it. My mama with everything that I do. See, we wasn’t thinking about it like that when I made the video. She was like, “Oh, that’s just Que talking on his Instagram.” And then it blew up. I mean, we happy. I did what I did. It made us some more money.
At any time, did you feel the weight and burden that came from that proclamation?
I never felt like I OD’ed because I ain’t do shit. All I said was that I’m the king of R&B for my generation.
You had a lot of heat that came you way.
It’s like this, bro: I understand the game. People take what they want to take. It’s like I just did a million interviews and all the headlines is s–t I ain’t even say. So I understand how all this s–t works.
On the last album you had a record called “23,” which preached about not wanting to get into relationships so early because you want to enjoy your time being single. Now, you’re dating Dreezy. How did that relationship play a role in creating this album?
It gives me stuff to talk about, which is based on love and just real experiences. It’s easy to write about it. I don’t gotta make believe, I can just really tell y’all what’s going on.
Does writing come easier for you while being in a relationship versus being single?
Both ways. It’s both vibes. You know, you can have a single vibe and still be creative. You can also have somebody who’s in your life like me right now and be inspired by everything that they do and you can write about everything. That’s what I think I do. Like I think I take what we go through, experiences that we go through and I can just write about it. Even if I paint a little bit on it, and put a little dab on it, it’s still what it was inspired from.
Any particular records?
All my records. All my records when you hear me talk about love.
I feel like “Risk It All” was the one.
Yeah, yeah [laughs]. That’s one of my favorite records.
Speaking of “Risk It All,” you have Tory Lanez on the track, who supported you during your king of R&B run. Did anybody else behind the scenes come and show you love for your boldness?
Yeah, Trey Songz. I had a couple of more people support me. A couple of R&B dudes got mad, but it’s like, what you mad about? I didn’t diss you. I said I was the king of R&B for my generation. Get off my Instagram. Or if you wanna be on my Instagram, make sure you’re listening for the right things and you’re not just taking what you wanna take out of it.
I think you made R&B a competitive sport.
It’s in a competitive space, but when I said I’m the king, it wasn’t to down nobody. I’m a fan of all these guys. Like, Tory is one of my best friends and he’s a dope ass artist, but the dope thing about Tory is he’s not trying to be the king of R&B, you feel me? And there’s a couple other guys who’s not trying to be the king of R&B. They just doing their thing.
You and YK Osiris got into it recently about who is the king of R&B.
I ain’t gon’ lie, bro, I forgot who he was. That fast.
But did you at least respect him for trying to challenge you, especially since you called out the game last year with that same declaration.
I mean, I would have respected it from anybody, ’cause I don’t know who you talking about, but I would have respected it if anybody came and said, “Hey, I’m the king of R&B.” And if they would have bigged me up and was like, “Yo. Jacquees is doing his thing, but I’m on his coattail,” I would have respected it if that’s how they coming. If that’s how a person is bringing it, then I’d respect it. But if they think they gon’ say something negative, then nah, it ain’t going down like that.
What are your thoughts on Tory making a push from the R&B side of things?
I’m a fan of Tory. That’s my brother. When you friends with somebody, it’s kind of hard to think about their artistry. You f–k with it, but it’s not even on your mind. When you see your partner going up, it’s like, ‘Oh shit. That’s what’s up. That’s my n—a. Let’s get it.’ There’s not really any thoughts. Me and Tory aren’t in competition with each other. That’s why you seen him post, ‘If you the king, then you the king.’ That’s what it is. That’s what real n—-s do, though. You see all the corny n—-s doing all the lame s–t. You’re f–king corny. And I’m gonna say, you’re corny, man. You’re f–king corny, bro, in case nobody told you yet.
Keith Sweat came out and showed you support even if you two initially got into it last year.
And you heard what Sway said? Sway said, “I respect Jacquees because he’s the first one to come out and say he’s the king of R&B.” Nobody was running around saying that. He said, “I commend Jacquees for being a leader and just sticking his chest out.” That’s why Sweat rock with me.
What was one of the gems Sweat gave you when y’all linked up last year?
He just let me know who the f–k he was [laughs]. He ran his catalog. He wasn’t playing with my ass. He really got in his bag quick and I respected it. Sweat told me right on the spot, “But I respect you, little n—a, because you smart.” Then, I was with him like that whole day. From the time we were at his show, I was on his coattail. I was just chopping it up and asking him little questions. I was just really hanging with him and now he’s my dog. Like I tell everybody, he surprised me at my Pandora event when he introduced me as the king of R&B for my generation. And that’s Keith Sweat, one of the kings of R&B for his generation.
You mentioned your Pandora event, where you received a plaque for 1 billion streams. What does that accolade mean for someone who just hit 25?
It meant a lot because I was one of the youngest to do it and one of the fastest to do it. You know, there’s artists that don’t have as many streams as me on Pandora. It was an honor, I was thankful. I like getting what I deserve. I love to get what I deserve. So that felt real special to get a billion streams. I never knew I had a billion streams.
Which artist do you feel you have that tight chemistry with, especially on the album?
I would say Tory. Tory taught me how to record myself, even though I forgot. He’s somebody that’s hands-on with it. … And I got a relationship with [Young] Thug. Thug my brother. If you ain’t peep, I’m on every Young Thug album. We real tight. That’s like family. Quavo, real tight relationship. Quavo was one of the ones who told me to name my album King of R&B. He was one of the first ones.
I would have thought T.I., especially with him being on the intro for “King.”
When I called myself the king, at first, Tip asked me why would I do that [laughs]. He was like, “Why would you do that? And I’m not knocking you, I just don’t want you to go through everything I went through.”
Just last year, Tip was saying he invented trap music, though.
I did the same exact thing he did. Tip dropped his first album and he said he’s the king of the south. I dropped my first album, and said I was king of R&B.