*(By Percy Lovell Crawford) – Time really slowed down during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists and musicians have been hit hard by the deadly spread of the virus, which has halted performances, canceled tours and changed the creative process for better and for worse.

Technology took center stage, while release dates were forced to be pushed back. Grammy-nominated R&B star J.Holidays worked diligently to compose a masterpiece. His album “Time”, published on February 7, focuses on the nuances that accompany time. A calculated pun, this album spotlights the one word we’ve all been forced to pay more attention to during the height of COVID: time.

Zenger sat down with the R&B star to discuss his new album; he also talks about the lack of deep R&B music and explains the lack of features on “Time”.

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Percy Crawford interviewed J. Holiday for Zenger.

zenger: How are you?

J. Holiday: I’m fine, man. No complaints. I’m just getting ready for the album, but I’m fine.

zenger: On February 7, you release your next studio album, “Time”. When the project is finished, and all that remains is to wait, what about an artist?

J. Holiday: I think it’s always a bit of nervousness and anxiety. You just want it to be well received. It’s my music, so I’m going to like it anyway, but you always have this idea of ​​pleasing the fans, so I think it’s always a bit like that.

zenger: How was the process of creating this album?

J. Holiday: For me, the album was pretty much finished two years ago. Then we entered the pandemic. I think we only did 2 more songs [since] when it started. It was just… I had to wait for the right moment. People thought maybe it would be smarter because people are sitting in the house, people are listening more, but you can’t really reach people.

Percy Crawford
Percy Crawford interviewed J. Holiday for Zenger. (Heidi Malone/Zenger)

The process was more like waiting for the right moment. Anyway, I’m always creating, whether it’s mixtapes or studio recordings. This process was not that different, I think the deployment process was very different due to the period we are in now.

zenger: What makes these 11 tracks perfect for this album?

J. Holiday: Honestly, we haven’t recorded many songs. Each song was quite strategic. We have specifically chosen lyrical content for each. We have a theme for each song. “Okay, we need to talk about it, so let’s do it.” We were very strategic in how we put the album together.

zenger: You gave us another single from the album, “Zero To Sixty”. What was the thought process behind releasing another song before the album was released?

J. Holiday: I just make people excited about the album. We have three more songs on the album we released. Some people will say, “These songs are old, so let’s not put them on the album.” But they were part of the strategy we put in place. We didn’t want it to happen like this.

We dropped “25 To Life” because we were ready to start releasing the album, but then the pandemic happened, and it was like, “Okay, we always have to keep giving news music to people.” We didn’t want to take anything away from “Time”. I could have released any type of song, but it’s like, if they were going to get anything from me, it would be from “Time”. We did “Ride”, and it let people know we were coming with the album. We are getting back to normal. So we thought it was time to release the album.

“Zero To Sixty” has a little tempo. If you think about when you buy a new car, the first thing you want to know is how fast it goes from zero to sixty. Which is a timing aspect, so like I said, we were very strategic about everything. It’s about getting people excited. We haven’t shown our hand yet. We have a few records on the album, but it was like, let’s tease them a bit.

Time - J. Holiday album cover
Album cover of J. Holiday’s new project, “Time”, released February 7th. (Aaron Hamilton)

zenger: The last time we spoke you broke down the different levels of time and the many aspects in which time is used and obviously the importance of it. And then you turned a whole album around the word. Why?

J. Holiday: People probably don’t notice it, but everyone in the world probably says the word “time” at least once a day. What time is it? It’s time for me to get up. People don’t realize how important time is. I always say in every interview I’ve done, we always ask for time, but we always waste it. I’m just trying to get people to focus a little more.

I’m not saying the music is bad here, but it’s like, what are we doing lyrically? What are we talking about? There are great songs, and then there are great songs, but they’re not really about anything. I like it, it’s catchy, but is it something I want to hear every day?

zenger: I did a quick search of your name on Twitter before I started because I like to get an idea of ​​what’s being said before talking to certain people. You were in the conversation about giving people their flowers while they’re here for the classics you dropped. How does it feel to be spoken in this light?

J. Holiday: I love it. I have been singing for a long time. I’m a connoisseur of the art of R&B. For me, I want to be mentioned in those conversations. I want to be mentioned among the greatest. I don’t want to be known for having “Cit” and “Suffocation”. I want people who listen to my albums to know that when you dive into my albums, I give it my all. It’s good to hear. I don’t necessarily do it for recognition. … Fame for me, I can do without. But it’s part of the game, so it’s good to know that there are people who appreciate what I do.

zenger: Looking at your message on social networks, I can tell that you feel like you have one with this album “Time”. What is it about this album that makes you feel like you delivered on this one?

J. Holiday: When people are hungry, it’s true, you can have a snack, but you’re still hungry. It’s like, let me have a snack to hold me back. I feel like that’s the kind of music people listen to. They took snacks. It’s the meal.

It goes back to what we were talking about earlier, people appreciate what I do. People know that when I drop my stuff, it’s gonna be R&B. I don’t understand gimmicks. I’m not trying to ride the wave or the sound of anyone. It will always be my sound. I think that’s something people want. They want to hear good music, man. Again, that’s not to say there’s bad music here, but they want to hear good R&B.

The “Time” has come for J. Holiday to restore pure R&B music. (Courtesy of Darius Jones)

zenger: You kept the lines light on this album. Was it intentional?

J. Holiday: I’ve always been like that. Even my previous albums, like when I had Rick Ross on “Wrong Lover”, it happened. It was not something that was wanted. He just happened to hear the record and put a verse on it, and we were like, “Oh…cool!” We didn’t even have to pay Rick for it. These are the kind of features that I love. You do it because you like it, not because I pay you.

I always want my albums to talk about me. I don’t like it when people use features to sell their music. I feel like it’s almost like a jerk. Sometimes it’s good. Some features are excellent. When you have 15 songs on the joint and 10 of them have feature films, do I listen to them or do you? I’ve always liked my albums to be all about me because that’s supposed to be the reason they buy the album, to hear me, not other people. I’ve never been a high feature guy. You don’t hear me on a bunch of records. It’s a gift and a curse because it’s always good to be on other people’s stuff. The features I want to do are with the people I admire. I want to ride in an Outkast joint. If I can’t make that happen, then I’m cool.

zenger: I love what you are doing with the positive posts on your Facebook page. How did it become your thing?

J. Holiday: I’ve been in the entertainment news for some things I’ve said. I never want to be looked at negatively. If I say something, I’m coming from a positive place with it. This may not be well received, or you may not like what I have to say, but I… hate that we’re in an industry where… what this lady said, “Shut up and dribble! What do you mean my opinion doesn’t count? “Shut up and sing.” So, I’ll keep those opinions to myself. If I talk about things like that, it’s within my team, and I’ll stick to that. In this pandemic, people just need good things to hear.

zenger: February 7 is the date, the album is “Time”, everyone is watching that. Anything else before I let you go, J.?

J. Holiday: Ah man, everyone stay safe, stay positive, the sun will be up tomorrow. Everyone will be fine, every day you wake up and breathe, don’t waste your time. Enjoy life as best you can. Don’t let things get you down. It’s always going to be something you have to deal with, you have to learn to sink in and get out of it. Stay positive.

Edited by Kristen Butler and Richard Pretorius

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