During the five o’clock drive mix, on XM Satellite Radio or maybe on your sweetie’s new slow jams playlist, you might have heard a sweet voice serenading you in the hit song, “Bed.” That voice and catchy ballad belong to J. Holiday.
If you think Holiday is a new artist, think again. He’s no stranger to the music industry, beginning his career as a member of the group 295 in his hometown of Washington, D.C. After venturing out to become a solo artist, he worked on a demo and was signed on the spot to Capitol Records.
Holiday grew up listening to artists such as The Fugees, Jodeci, D’Angelo, Dru Hill and Tupac, but his voice is reminiscent of his idols, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Sam Cooke. “These artists left a legacy,” he says. “Some people pass away and are forgotten, but they still have a legacy.”
After dropping his first single, “Be With Me” in 2006, the 23-year-old (he’ll be 24 this month) is now basking in the success of his #1 album, Back of My Lac’. The title track, written by Holiday, sets the tone for the album, which talks about love, life and the streets. “Basically, it’s a soundtrack for the ghetto. (You have) the guy chasing the girl or in the streets with his homies,” he says. “There are guidelines for the street: being real and staying real.” Through the art of storytelling in the streets, Holiday sends a message of hope. “Just keep pushing, man. Life is short,” he says. “Don’t forget to live life and stay true to yourself.”
Citing “Ghetto” as his favorite track on the album, he says he won’t forget his roots. “I lived in the suburbs with the swimming pool in the back (of the home) and all that. When my father passed away, things changed,” he says. “We were off to the hood. I’m happy because it made me who I am. I made it, but I haven’t forgotten where I came from.”
Usually dressed in baggy jeans with tattoos, wearing braids under a leather fedora, one might not think Holiday would be a balladeer, but the success of “Bed” has proven otherwise.
“With the minute success of “Be With Me,” I was a little skeptical. But I knew the beat was infectious.”
Infectious is an understatement. Produced by The Dream, who wrote Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (now does that “eh, eh, eh” sound familiar?), the lovemaking anthem peaked #1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and #5 on the Hot 100 Singles Charts.
Holiday clears up rumors of beef with Chris Brown over the “Bed” track. Gossip columnists reported that Brown passed up the track, saying it would never be a hit without him. “I have no beef with him (Brown),” he says. “Business is business. I have beef with no one. I am out here working hard. I just chill, live life and enjoy the fact that I’m even here.”
So what’s next for this young soul star?
He just returned from shooting the video for his next single, “Suffocate” in Paris. Fans can find him alongside Keyshia Cole and Ne-Yo on R. Kelly’s Double-Up tour, kicking off November 14.
As if Holiday’s music isn’t confirmation enough that he is here to stay, he says it himself. “I’m a real dude. I’m serious about this and I enjoy doing what I do. Thanks for all the support.”
Well said, J.