Keith Jacobs’ R&B Formula for Truth Telling

In case you haven’t noticed, R&B is back with a vengeance. Just when you thought singing about true love, emotional rapture, and vulnerability had gone out of style, the sexy pangs of love have come back into style, taking on a new level of authenticity and vibrancy.

Keith Jacobs is one those new R&B vocalists that is facilitating this new explosion of R&B. Defining himself as more than an R&B crooner, Jacobs is the penultimate example of this new breed of R&B artist; an artist that mixes the street-wise, truth-telling of current hip-hop with the soulful melodies of old-school R&B. And his recent single “Saucy” speaks to the melding of these musical genres.

Keith Jacobs spoke with Fashion Reverie about his 90s R&B roots, his musical journey, and his passion for truth-telling.

Fashion Reverie: Where does your love of music come from?

Keith Jacobs: I have been involved in music for almost my entire life. I sang in the youth choir in my local church choir in Houston, Texas. I always looked at music as a chore until I got to college, where I got more involved in the art of music. I always knew I could sing, but in college my perspective changed by taking music classes and understanding my voice and my sound. I began to perfect how I wanted to sound and now I feel I am finally speaking my truth through my music.

FR: Did you major in music theory?

Keith Jacobs: No, I majored in Psychology at Southern University. I wanted to be able to support myself and I wasn’t convinced when I was in college that music was going to provide an income or a lifestyle that I wanted. I thought I would be an industrial organizational psychologist.

I later received my MBA from Southern University so that I would understand the business side of music. Now, as an independent artist I do know music theory; but I am also well-versed in the business of the music industry. I can control my own narrative and how I am represented.

FR: Who are some of your musical influences?

Keith Jacobs: Musiq Soulchild, John Legend, and Frank Ocean. I love Frank Ocean because he has a song for whatever mood you are in.

FR: How would you describe your musical style?

Keith Jacobs: My style is an urban R&B with a hint of 90s nostalgia. Some of the old-school narrative styles of music spoke about love, transparency, and being authentic. So, the goal for my music is to be authentic, thoughtful, and lucid.

FR: Your style has been described as a throwback, like Jodeci, Mint Condition, those R&B boy bands of the late 80s and 90s. Why have you adopted that brand of musical styling?

Keith Jacobs: That was the kind of music that I grow up on. Also, being from Houston, we were introduced to some of the greatest musical artists of those eras. That said; I must make sure I am being truthful and authentic in my music the way some of those artists of the 80s and 90s were truthful in their lyrics.

FR: Your style has been described as a blend of R&B with some hip-hop influences. Could you elaborate on that?

Keith Jacobs: Going back to my Houston roots, I grew up on Screw. Screw music is a very upbeat tempo radio-based music that is slowed down, with a pop placed on top. The southern style of urban music is based on Screw, where the bass or core of the music is ‘screwed,’ so to speak.

You will find those elements of Screw or the Dirty South sound in my music. I would not call myself a crooner because you will find a lot of different southern urban sounds in my music that go beyond just crooning a tune.

FR: There was a time in hip-hop culture where the music was very self-absorbed and misogynistic. However, that point of view has changed. Hip-hop and popular music now appears to be a lot more inclusive, introspective, though still provocative. The current crop of black male artists seems to be forging this new musical perspective. Where is all of this coming from?

Keith Jacobs: Some people think that this social media-driven culture funnels a lot of negativity. However, social media may have caused an awakening, allowing some black male artists to expose their truth. In past, musical artists were controlled by record labels and those labels could exploit artists and promote propaganda. And fans were forced to believe anything that the record labels put out there.

That is all changing with the direct-to-consumer technology. With this new technology it is a lot easier for artists to define who we want to be and put that out into the world. The paradigm has shifted, and it is time for that. Social media has helped change ideas about masculinity, facilitating a variety of voices on male identity.

FR: Let’s talk about your new single “Saucy.” Where does the concept around “Saucy” come from?

Keith Jacobs: The concept around “Saucy” comes from being in Houston and being in love. I have a love for old school cars, music, fashion, and all those things come together in “Saucy.” I wanted to paint a picture of what was like to be in love with a lady and being in love with her in Houston.

FR: “Saucy” has been that song that is played on late-night radio stations; the song that everyone waits to hear on late-night radio. Could you elaborate on the success of “Saucy”?

Keith Jacobs: “Saucy” is an example of the shift that is happening in contemporary music. It is a shift that needed to happen. People want music that speaks to authenticity. I must make sure that I remain authentic as an artist and continue to give the people what they want and deserve.

FR: Who are some of your favorite fashion designers?

Keith Jacobs: I love nostalgia. I know that I can never go wrong with Ralph Lauren. I grew up on Ralph Lauren. For me, Ralph Lauren is quick go-to for that simple school-boy style, which I love.

FR: You are appearing at Essence Music Festival for the first time. Could you talk about that?

Keith Jacobs: I am very excited about it. We are doing this show entitled “If It Don’t Feel Like 90s R&B.” That show also includes R&B artist Mya. She is also appearing with me in my Houston show before we appear together in New Orleans at the Essence Music Festival.

Images courtesy of 2Rs Entertainment

FR: Who else is appearing with you on “If It Don’t Feel Like 90s R&B” at the Essence Music Festival?

Keith Jacobs: Angela Yeats is on the program, as well as Mya. Additionally, we will be performing some great moments from 90s music. We will do a Jodeci set, as well as other similar sets. Growing up in the 90s, Jodeci and similar groups were the pinnacle of 90s music.

FR: Could you talk about your current tour and what’s next for you?

Keith Jacobs: Currently, I am on the southern tour for my latest album and I will be starting a radio tour after this tour ends. I have crazy project that will drop in October.

William S. Gooch








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