EXCLUSIVE: Lyfe Jennings Talks New Music, Raising Kids & His Lowest Point
When it comes to artistic expression, honesty and vulnerability are often the nucleus from which longevity is attained. With his seventh and final studio album, 777 dropping August 23rd, Lyfe Jennings continues to update his biography through his music.
As anyone that has followed the Ohio-bred crooner’s career knows, the journey hasn’t always been glamorous. After serving a 10 year sentence in 1992 Lyfe found solace and success in his music and in 2004 emerged on the scene with his eponymous debut album. In 2010 he went back to prison for another three year sentence and announced his retirement from music.
Lyfe, still finding catharsis in the notes, released two more albums, Lucid (2013) and Tree Of Lyfe (2015). Today, with his kids playing an integral role in his day-to-day, the 41-year-old singer has once again proclaimed his retirement but this time he’s doing it in a place of peace thanks to primary job as daddy.
“Before when I didn’t have kids I was kind of hotheaded. I used to let my emotions get the best of me. Now that I have kids it forces me to stop and think about what I’m doing realizing that I have two little ones that depend on me,” Lyfe told theJasmineBRAND in an exclusive conversation.
“Creatively I do get ideas from them as well. They impact my life because I have to listen to them from their standpoint. I get interrupted by them like a thousand times a day, but I find that from that interruption sometimes comes something great that I wouldn’t have had if I just kept working straight through. I get ideas from them. They draw me pictures, they bring them to my studio. It’s been a successful formula.”
Over the course of his career, Lyfe has received equal parts acclaim and criticism for the press that he’s been a part of, but as he tells it, outside voices, good or bad have never factored into his motivation.
“I’m a weird dude. All the accolades and stuff that other people do stuff for that’s not what I’m in it for. My highest point in my career was when I could afford to get insurance for my kids. That might sound like something small but for me it was huge cause I just feel like if anything ever happened to them I’ll be able to take care of them,” Lyfe noted.
“We didn’t ever have no insurance growing up, so me being able to do that was special.”
Despite the vulnerability displayed in his music, Lyfe has always aimed to be self-sufficient even when times are hard.
“I wouldn’t even tell my mother if something was wrong. Like, if I had to have a major operation wouldn’t nobody know. I’m just that kinda dude that I’ll just go handle it myself and just be like ‘wait right here I’ll be right back,” said Lyfe. “Through the highs and lows of my career it’s just been me. I don’t really want people in my business like that. I think I’m built for it so that’s just what it is.”
On 777 Lyfe did find inspiration from a youthful sound, but as far as the lyrics fans can expect the same openness that helped him get on in the first place.
“I got some younger sounding beats on some of the tracks but lyrically it’s consistent with everything that I’ve done,” said Lyfe.
“I do have more features than I normally would. I can’t really say why that is. My goal is never to get a bunch of features my goal is just to get the dopest connections and produce the dopest outcomes, so I guess that’s just what came naturally this time.”
Among the songs on his swan song LP, there was one in particular that the veteran crooner says came from an extra personal place and felt like something that everyday people could relate to. He revealed,
“One of my favorites is a joint I have that’s called ‘Tell Me.’ The song is just about, you know how you go through shit with a female and it didn’t work out? You don’t miss the part [of that person] that didn’t work out, but you still miss them, and sometimes you get some good news and you just wanna call them and do all the familiar shit but you find that you’re not able to do that anymore. You may have a female in your life right now but there’s still that one that you always think of, and when something happens, good or bad they’re the first person you wanna call and tell.”
Both pre-fame and and at the height of his success Lyfe went through some extreme highs and lows, but according to him his rock bottom was a tough conversation he had with his son before going to prison.
My lowest point throughout this journey was when I was about to go to prison I sat down with my son. He was about five or six years old at the time. I sat down with him and I was like ‘What would you do if daddy had to go away for a little while?’ He was like ‘What do you mean if daddy had to go away for a little while?’ I was like ‘If daddy had to leave and wouldn’t be back for a little while.’ And he was like ‘You wouldn’t do that dad.’ Then he got up and walked off,” Lyfe remembered.
“Hearing him say that ‘You wouldn’t do something like that,’ like that’s not even an option. That was my lowest point feeling like I really let this dude down. But I’m happy now. I got all my kids half of the time. I’m paying $10,000 a month in child support but I got my kids so life is good.”
By –Jake Rohn