CLICK ABOVE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW!
J. Holiday is a preachersâ€™ son. Raised in the church by a hardworking mother, the pull of secular music was still too much for him to ignore. Fascinated by the early â€˜90s R&B vocal groups such as Boyz II Men, H-Town and Jodeci, J. Holiday soon became enamored with hip-hop, marveling in the intricate rhymes of Jay-Z and OutKast. But it was during a high school talent show when a 14-year-old Holiday knew he had a passion for singing. However, local bands were unable to recruit the budding vocalist, whose mother had plans for her son to finish school before seriously pursuing music. Two years later, J. Holiday would discover the music of Marvin Gaye, an experience he calls a â€œrevelation.â€
The gifted vocalist had found his calling. Holiday skipped college and began recording demos in a local studio. He also found himself increasingly caught up in street activities, but music offered a more positive path. Soon, Holiday met up with current manager Corey Green and formed the group 295, named after the D.C. highway. Buzz for 295 was growing but by 2003 the R&B act disbanded. Fortunately for J. Holiday, his vocal prowess and dynamic stage presence was too much of a commodity to pass up. A&R veteran, Anthony â€œT.Aâ€ Tate, of Music Line Group (Ciara, Teairra Marie) quickly set up a meeting with Capitol Records and a deal was made on the spot.
On Thursday, August 2nd, 2007, I had the opportunity to have a chit-chat with the singer/songwriter we know as J.Holiday. In our interview, he told us how he got into the business, what it was like growing up in Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, and even told us what he’d do if a girl threw up on him! Yeah, we got that deep into his psyche. Check out our revealing interview with the “Bed” singer below!
[“Back of My Lac”] kind of shows you, you know, the type of person that I am and the things that Iâ€™ve been through a little bit.
Dustin: Whatâ€™s good J.Holiday, this is Dustin from THINK2WICE.ORG, how you doing?
Whatâ€™s good with you man?
Dustin: I ainâ€™t doing nothing much, Iâ€™m just chilling.
J.HOLIDAY INTRODUCES HIMSELF
Dustin: So first thing’s first. Tell us a little about J Holiday, the person behind the music.
J.Holiday: Iâ€™m just laid back. You know, Iâ€™m a people person, and Iâ€™m from down South so you know Iâ€™ve got down-home living in me. You know man, Iâ€™m down to earth and I just like to chill, and kick it. I like having good people around me. Thatâ€™s really it. Iâ€™m a simple dude.
Dustin: Your bio says youâ€™re originally from D.C. What was it like growing up in D.C.?
J.Holiday: It was cool. I think it was probably like any major city. By that being the nationâ€™s capital, you know, we got to deal with a little bit more than other cities with the politics and everything. But, I mean for the most part itâ€™s cool. I mean, I ainâ€™t got no complaints.
Dustin: How old were you when you found out that you enjoyed singing?
J.Holiday: When I really found out that I really like doing it, I was like 14.
Dustin: Thatâ€™s when you also realized you wanted to pursue it as a career?
J.Holiday: Right, yeah, exactly.
Dustin: How did you get your record deal, how were you discovered?
J.Holiday: Well, I was in a group when I was in D.C. called 295. And basically, just through my management, Corey Green, he already had connections and contacts and relationships in Atlanta already â€¦ with certain producers and stuff like that, so a couple of them came and checked us out in D.C. and they moved us down to Atlanta. And the group thing just didnâ€™t quite work out. After the group thing, I just started working on my solo thing, and started writing songs and stuff for myself. And we sat in front of Capitol Records and they signed me on the spot.
Dustin: So how do you feel about the recent success of Bed? I mean, if you look at it, it’s blowing up pretty fast. And I know you originally came out with “Be With Me,” and that generated a buzz, but Bed gave you that boost that you deserved. How do you feel about that?
J.Holiday: Man it feels good. I mean, itâ€™s like a catch-22 because I love all of the music that I do. But with Be With Me, you know what Iâ€™m saying, of course itâ€™s a little bit more musical than Bed. And itâ€™s hard because itâ€™s like, I want people to accept the musical side of me too versus just, you know, having a baby-making song. You know what I mean?
Dustin: Yeah [laughs]. But you went hard on Bed though, Iâ€™m really feeling it.
J.Holiday: Yeah, faâ€™ sho, faâ€™ sho. I mean, I try to go hard on any song that I do. But you know, itâ€™s hard man. Itâ€™s a hard game to really break into and get people paying attention to you. So, Iâ€™m happy that theyâ€™re paying attention to me now.
Dustin: How did you and The Dream hook up to write the song?
J.Holiday: Well basically, he had already wrote like two joints. Well, me and him co-wrote this one joint called â€œLa Laâ€ thatâ€™s on my album, and he wrote another joint called â€œSuffocateâ€ thatâ€™s on my album. And basically, that was just a relationship that we already had. And anytime he would write a song, he would always, you know, bring it to me or bring me ideas or whatever. So, I just told him we needed a smash for the ladies and thatâ€™s what he came up with [laughs].
J.HOLIDAY TALKS ABOUT â€œBACK OF MY LACâ€
In a woman, the main thing I look for is confidence … you need to be confident in yourself to know that youâ€™ve got something that Iâ€™m looking for…
Dustin: Okay, so let’s talk about this album “Back of My Lac.” What was the inspiration behind that particular name?
J.Holiday: Well, I got a song on my album called â€œBack of My Lac.â€ And thatâ€™s just basically a song I wrote, and itâ€™s real personal to me. And it kind of shows you, you know, the type of person that I am and the things that Iâ€™ve been through a little bit. You know what Iâ€™m saying? Itâ€™s just basically a song about when youâ€™re doing and out, and youâ€™re struggling, and you have hard times in your life. Everybody got a certain thing that they do. You know what Iâ€™m saying, to clear their mind or to go just refresh their spirit or whatever the case may be. And so, you know what I do is, I like to just get in the car and drive, you know what Iâ€™m saying? And thatâ€™s just basically what itâ€™s about, you know what Iâ€™m saying, like I go drive, park my car, and sit in the back and just chill. Kick it. Smoke, drink, or whatever.
Dustin: Do you have any songs on the album featuring any other artists?
J.Holiday: Iâ€™ve got one song. Iâ€™ve got one collaboration on the album. Itâ€™s a song called â€œCity Boy.â€ And 8Ball & MJG is on that song.
Dustin: What about the production? What songwriters and producers did you work with?
J.Holiday: Well of course I worked with Rodney Jerkins. I worked with Dream as a writer. Other producers â€¦ Justice League, Kwane, I got to give a big shout-out to my man Quincy in D.C. He did the â€œBack of My Lacâ€ track. I got Co-Stars, I got State of Emergency. Some more writers â€¦ I got The Clutch, Adonis – me and him wrote â€œBe With Meâ€ together. I wrote a lot of the album too, so names always be slipping my mind because itâ€™s not a lot of names [laughs]. Anybody I forgot, Iâ€™m sorry. But yeah, off the top â€¦ thatâ€™s a couple of people.
Dustin: So youâ€™re a songwriter too?
J.Holiday: Yeah, faâ€™ sho man.
Dustin: What was it like working with Rodney Jerkins for your first album?
J.Holiday: Aww man, it was privilege for me. Just knowing everything thatâ€™s he done, and everything that heâ€™s worked on. Him and his camp actually did another song thatâ€™s on my album called â€œWithout You.â€ But I recorded that in Atlanta. And me and Adonis also wrote that song. So Adonis sent the song to him, like â€˜Yo this is what we came up with.â€™ And [Rodney] was like â€˜Yo I like this kid. I need to get him to New Jersey, so I can do something for him.â€™ So, for him to actually request to work with me â€¦ that meant a lot to me.
Dustin: Yeah, thatâ€™s big.
J.Holiday: Yeah, I just sat back, and watched and learned [laughs]. Thatâ€™s all I did.
Dustin: What’s your favorite track on the album?
J.Holiday: My favorite track on the album? Of course, you know what Iâ€™m saying, it would have to be â€¦ â€œBedâ€ is one. I got a top two. Thereâ€™s â€œBed,â€ and then I got a song called â€œDittoâ€ that I also wrote. Those are my two top like â€¦ I got to hear those songs [laughs].
Dustin: I hear that you’re going on tour with Keyshia Cole pretty soon. Can you tell us a little more about that?
J.Holiday: Yeah man, sheâ€™s about to go on tour, you know what Iâ€™m saying, for her sophomore album. And Iâ€™m out here grinding, so Iâ€™m like, â€˜Yo! Yâ€™all need somebody to get on the tour?â€™ [laughs] You know what Iâ€™m saying? Like, ainâ€™t no price or nothing â€¦ itâ€™s just dough. So Iâ€™m still doing my promo thing. So, you know thatâ€™s what that was man, and I think thatâ€™ll be a good look for me. You know what Iâ€™m saying, and Iâ€™m just trying to get out there to see the people and thatâ€™s pretty much it.
J.HOLIDAY ANSWERS A FEW READER QUESTIONS
For the most part, man, I donâ€™t really listen to too much new music … Robin Thicke, R. Kelly, T.I., Lil’ Wayne, it ain’t too many honestly.
Dustin: The readers over at THINK2WICE.ORG are really feeling you, so you know they got some questions. Do you mind if I read a few of them out to you?
J.Holiday: Oh, nah, go â€˜head.
Dustin: One of the readers wanted to know if you’re dating anyone. And if not, what are you looking for in a woman?
J.Holiday: Oh, hold on, say that again? What was the first part?
Dustin: They want to know if youâ€™re dating anyone. And if not, what are you looking for in a woman?
J.Holiday: Oh nah man, Iâ€™m single. And in a woman, the main thing I look for is confidence. I think a lot of people get caught up into the looks and, you know, I mean, attraction is attraction. And they donâ€™t necessarily have to look a certain way, so itâ€™s just like if Iâ€™m attracted to you, Iâ€™m attracted to you. And that just means you need to be confident in yourself to know that youâ€™ve got something that Iâ€™m looking for versus saying, â€˜Aww, I know you can have any kind of girl that you want so why are you talking to me?â€™ Those types, you know â€¦ I canâ€™t deal with those types. I got to have somebody confident, like you need to be with me.
Dustin: Yeah, because a womanâ€™s not always going to have her looks, so she needs something for you toâ€¦
J.Holiday: Yeah, faâ€™ sho and confidence is the biggest thing with me.
Dustin: Okay, thatâ€™s good. Another one would like to know if you have any celebrity crushes.
J.Holiday: If I have any celebrity crushes, wowâ€¦ I donâ€™t really necessarily say I got celebrity crushes. But you know, of course, I mean, who doesnâ€™t fantasize about Janet [laughs]. I mean, Ciaraâ€™s doing her thing. Iâ€™ve been knowing Ciara for a minute though, you know what Iâ€™m saying? The cat that signed me is the same cat that discovered her. But of course Ciaraâ€™s doing her thing, you know â€¦ Beyonce. All the ones I like are taken, soâ€¦ [laughs] You know what I mean?
Dustin: Another one of the readers would like to know what’s the most frustrating part about being in the music business?
J.Holiday: That just takes me back to the beginning when you asked me how I feel about â€œBed.â€ The hardest thing man is actually staying true to yourself and not, you know, changing yourself to get somewhere, you know what I mean? Because a lot of people do that. You know, theyâ€™ll say â€˜Okay Iâ€™ll do whatever just to get out there.â€™ Then once you get out there youâ€™ve sold yourself to the devil.
Dustin: Right, and then youâ€™re stuck.
J.Holiday: Itâ€™s like, the hardest thing is just getting that recognition without having to change what you do, you know what I mean? A lot of people go through that. Common goes through that, you know what Iâ€™m saying, Nas went through it, like, a lot of people have went through it. Itâ€™s just the hardest thing man.
Dustin: Who are your music idols?
J.Holiday: Aww man, I have a long list, but Marvin Gaye is first and foremost. Sam Cooke, Donnie Hathaway, Jodeci, Boyz II Men, The Fugees, Tupac Shakur, you know I listen to a little bit of everything man. You know, Bill Withers, B.B. King, you know, just a little bit of everything.
Dustin: Okay, last but not least. This one is pretty random. Do you have any tattoos, and if so, where are they?
J.Holiday: Yeah, I got 6 tattoos. Most of my tattoos are music related. You know, I got a microphone, and I just got the phonetic wave to say music on my arm. You know I got music in Chinese on the left side of my neck. I got J.Holiday on the right side of my neck. Iâ€™ve got a cross on my stomach for my dad, because he passed away. And I got ark on my right shoulder.
J.HOLIDAY TELLS US MORE ABOUT HIMSELF
My government name is a biblical name. Itâ€™s Nahum Grymes … My momâ€™s a preacher, so, you know, I ended up with the biblical name…
Dustin: What artists are you feeling right now? What are you bumping to on your iPod or whatâ€™s in your CD player?
J.Holiday: For the most part, man, I donâ€™t really listen to too much new music. You know, I might check it out real quick. But, I mean, Ne-Yoâ€™s my homie. You know what Iâ€™m saying, of course the Robin Thicke CD, you know he got the Marvin [Gaye] feel to his joint. You know, R. Kelly, T.I., Lilâ€™ Wayne, it ainâ€™t too many honestly [laughs]. Thatâ€™s like â€¦ the hardest people thatâ€™s out right now, thatâ€™s about it.
Dustin: Yeah, youâ€™re pretty much like me when it comes to music. Thatâ€™s probably what I would say too [both laugh].
J.Holiday: Yeah man, but for the most part Iâ€™m listening to like Jodeci and Marvin, and TuPac.
Dustin: Jodeci has that type of album thatâ€™s timeless. Itâ€™ll never pretty much get old.
J.Holiday: Yeah, right, exactly.
Dustin: I still bump Jodeci every now and then [both laugh]. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Like, something that you’d normally be embarrassed about as far as what you’re listening to, or what you read, or what you enjoy doing in your free time.
J.Holiday: Nah, I mean, I like to sleep you know what Iâ€™m saying [laughs]?
Dustin: Yeah, who doesnâ€™t [laughs]?
J.Holiday: You know, but as hard as I work â€¦ itâ€™s funny, because, thatâ€™s kind of like a catch-22 too. Because I work hard, but then at the same time, I like to sleep hard too, so [laughs].
Dustin: Oh okay, yeah, so when youâ€™re not working, youâ€™re sleeping [laughs].
J.Holiday: Yeah, pretty much [laughs].
Dustin: What about your pet peeves? What are some things that get on your last nerve?
J.Holiday: Aww man, like if there is a young lady that Iâ€™m trying to date, or something like that. For her to ask me to sing? You know, we supposed to be on date time, not sing time [laughs].
Dustin: Yeah, you save that for the studio and on stage [laughs].
J.Holiday: Right, exactly, but I donâ€™t mind doing it because you know, me being a singer, I walk around the house singing. But for somebody to just physically ask me to do it, and you know â€¦ you not a fan, like you trying to date me, thatâ€™s different [laughs].
Dustin: Yeah, yeah, it makes it seem like sheâ€™s trying to be with you for the wrong reasons.
J.Holiday: Right, exactly [laughs].
Dustin: Yeah, I feel you on that [both laugh].
J.HOLIDAY PLAYS â€œWHAT IFâ€¦?â€
By 2012, I just hope to still be here man. You know what Iâ€™m saying? Iâ€™m happy that Iâ€™m at where Iâ€™m at. But it doesnâ€™t stop there for me â€¦ for nobody.
Dustin: Alright, this is pretty much the end of the interview, but before I let you go I want you to play a little game. It’s called “what if.” I’ll present some random situations, and you have to tell us what you would do. Alright?
J.Holiday: [Laughs] alright.
Dustin: Alright, what if â€¦ the President of the United States called you?
J.Holiday: Aww man, yâ€™all donâ€™t even want to know what Iâ€™d say to him [both laugh]. Yâ€™all donâ€™t even want to know.
Dustin: [Laughs] okay I donâ€™t want the secret service after you or anything so I guess weâ€™ll skip over that one.
J.Holiday: Alright [both laugh].
Dustin: What if you caught a friend stealing from you?
J.Holiday: Aww man, if I caught them stealing from me. Iâ€™d probably give â€˜em whatever they were trying to take, and just, disown them.
Dustin: And be done with them?
J.Holiday: Yeah, thatâ€™s the worse thing you can do to me man, because I grew up not having a lot, so I donâ€™t mind sharing what I have. But itâ€™s just like, just ask man.
Dustin: What if you were granted one wish, what would it be?
J.Holiday: Oh, man â€¦ to probably have my dad back. You know, he passed away when I was eleven, so.
Dustin: Oh, okay.
Dustin: What if you lost your favorite possession?
J.Holiday: If I lost my what?
Dustin: What if you lost your favorite possession? Like something that you cherish.
J.Holiday: Aww man â€¦ I mean, honestly I donâ€™t really have too many prized possessions because like I said how I grew up man, itâ€™s just like Iâ€™m thankful for everything I have, so, if I lose it, I just cherish the memories that I had with it [laughs].
Dustin: Okay, good answer [both laugh]. What would you do if you were on a date and the girl threw up on you?
J.Holiday: Oh, wow! Thatâ€™s never happened so I really canâ€™t [laughs] tell you what I would do. But Iâ€™m one of those that really care about how I look and my appearance, so I might split a wig on that one.
Dustin: So you might be a little heated on that one.
J.Holiday: Yeah, I might be mad there! If she really sick, you know, thatâ€™s different man. But if itâ€™s something like she got drunk. Thatâ€™s like â€¦ you couldâ€™ve controlled that. You know what I mean?
Dustin: Yeah, thatâ€™s not sexy â€¦ at all [laughs].
J.Holiday: Right [laughs].
Dustin: Okay, last one. What if you had the opportunity to change your government name? Would you change it, and if so … what would you change it to?
J.Holiday: I donâ€™t know, Iâ€™ve always liked the name Neno Brown [laughs].
Dustin: Oh, okay, thatâ€™s your government name?
J.Holiday: Nah, but Iâ€™m just saying Iâ€™ve always liked that name [laughs]. So, it would that that.
Dustin: Oh, okay, okay â€¦ what is your government name by the way?
J.Holiday: My government name is a biblical name. Itâ€™s Nahum Grymes. N-A-H-U-M. G-R-Y-M-E-S. My momâ€™s a preacher, so, you know, I ended up with the biblical name.
Dustin: Oh, okay, thatâ€™s cool! I like that!
“BACK OF MY LAC” – IN STORES OCTOBER 2ND, 2007!!
J.HOLIDAY TELL US WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR HIM AND HIS CAREER
Dustin: What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years? Where does J.Holiday see himself in the year 2012?
J.Holiday: By 2012, I just hope to still be here man. You know what Iâ€™m saying? Iâ€™m happy that Iâ€™m at where Iâ€™m at. But it doesnâ€™t stop there for me â€¦ for nobody. And lately, the tripâ€™s been a lot shorter than longer for a lot of artists, so itâ€™s like â€¦ in 5 years, I just still want to be here.
Dustin: Would you like to expand your career into other fields, like acting, or owning your own business or anything like that?
J.Holiday: Oh, faâ€™ sho man. Iâ€™m very business minded and I got a lot of ideas and just a lot things I want to do. And of course, I be playing around all the time so of course Iâ€™m going to dibble and dabble into acting and maybe some sitcoms or something. Iâ€™m going to try to do as much as possible without compromising, you know, who I am, or making it look crazy, or look stupid. Because you know, some artists, just need to just leave some things alone.
Dustin: Yeah, they go too far out and itâ€™s hard to bring them back in.
J.Holiday: Yeah, exactly, and they canâ€™t never get back, and then donâ€™t nobody want an album from them anymore.
Dustin: Yeah, somebody has already taken their spot from the little â€œbreakâ€ that they took.
J.Holiday: Right, exactly.
Dustin: Are there any last words you have to the readers over at THINK2WICE?
J.Holiday: Yeah, just much appreciation, and thanks for all the love, and for anybody thatâ€™s trying to do what Iâ€™m doing â€¦ just stay true to yourself. And make sure donâ€™t nobody change you. Perfect your craft. And just hold me down, and yâ€™all will see me in a minute.
Dustin: Alright man, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. I wish you the best of success.
J.Holiday: Oh, faâ€™ sho man.
Dustin: When does that album drop?
J.Holiday: October 2nd, â€œBack of My Lac!â€ Make sure they cop it, definitely!
Dustin: Alright, Iâ€™ll make sure I let the readers know. Thanks for speaking with us.
J.Holiday: Oh, faâ€™ sho man.
“BACK OF MY LAC” – IN STORES OCTOBER 2ND, 2007!!