Pop Culture with an Urban Twist presented by Kevin Lockett
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Monday, November 11, 2013
25 Years Later: Jimmy Jam on New Edition’s N.E. Heartbreak Album
How did you become involved with this New Edition project?
Well, it’s sort of an interesting story. What happened was we went into a meeting to talk with Jheryl Busby about his search for a male artist. He wanted to sign a male artist. He wanted to talk to us about who that male artist should it be and, if they signed him, would we produce him. So – we went into the meeting and he threw out a bunch of names of male artists that he thought were good or underrated. In our conversation, there was a name that was glaringly missing from his list. We told him we know of someone who fits the description you’re looking for. And we said, “Johnny Gill.” He said, “Wow. Johnny Gill. I didn’t even think about him. What is he up to?” I said to him, “He’s still singing and that he was what you were looking for because not only can he sing well, but he is really young.” He was much younger than the guys he was talking about to the other gentlemen in the room. The problem that Johnny Gill had was that he had a very mature voice, but he was a young guy. But then he grew into his voice. He said, “Well, that’s cool then. So if I sign Johnny, you guys will produce him.” We told him, “Sure. We’d love to do it.” This is where the beginning of the New Edition thing happened.
After this meeting, we actually ran into Johnny at a concert. Johnny came up to us and asked us how we were doing. I told him we looked forward to working with him and he said, “Yea, working together on that New Edition album is going to be great. We asked, “The New Edition record?” He said, “Yea. I’m part of the group now.” We called Busby and asked him, “What is up with the New Edition thing?” He told us, “Isn’t it great! We put Johnny with New Edition and you guys can work together with the group.” The cool thing was that we were huge fans of New Edition. The first time we heard their record “Candy Girl” was when we were on tour with our group The Time. We were in the club and when the DJ put the record on, we were like, “Who is that?” He told us it was a group called New Edition. I loved them. I recognized the name Maurice Starr because I was a DJ while producing music in my younger days. I remember his name because Maurice Starr had a single out that I really liked and it worked really well in my club. We went to some of their shows and the guys were really cool. We worked with them on a song called “Helplessly in Love” for theDragnet soundtrack. So – we were familiar with the guys and we knew each other and we all got along. It was fantastic. We had no idea Johnny was going to be a part of the group. This was our introduction to knowing that he was going to be a part of the group.