When Jagged Edge announced they’d be naming their 8th album as a sequel to their 2000 classic “JE Heartbreak”, there was some excitement that they’d be returning to their previous formula, but also some hesitation if they could live up to the original. Rest assured, the album is very much up to par and their legacy remains intact. After 17 years, they manage to still produce music at the highest quality. Perhaps it has to do with them having the distinction of being the only one of the big 90’s r&b groups not to break up. Or maybe it’s the magic that Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox add to the mix. Whatever it is, we can be very optimistic about the future as they embark on the next 17 years. YouKnowIGotSoul sat down with Jagged Edge while they were in NYC promoting their album and discussed the creation of “JE Heartbreak II”, revisiting the formula they used on the original, how they’ve managed to stay together all of these years, and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The new album “JE Heartbreak II” is out now. You named the album after your signature album “JE Heartbreak”. In what way did the original influence the creation of this new one?
Jagged Edge (Brian): I guess the relation between those two projects for us is that we felt when “JE Heartbreak” came out, we were making some of the best music of our career. We felt like at this point in time we needed to again. We kind of drew the inspiration and used the model of terms of it all being about relationships and heartbreak and things about that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How important was it to add Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox back into the mix? What were they able to bring to the table again this time around?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): For us it was extremely important to add JD and Bryan Cox back into the mix because they were our original collaboration partners on the first project. For us to do this the right way, we felt we had to bring them back in the loop.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We found it interesting that on the intro of the album you have a quote from Tyrese saying “R&B is in an insecure place right now.” How important was it to include that and what type of statement did you look to make?
Jagged Edge (Brian): Honestly, that was Jermaine’s idea and I heard his reason behind which is that when we were making this album, we were all getting together in terms of where we wanted to take it and the topic of the album. He came across these sound bites which ended up being the intro for the album, but all of those sound bites basically expressed the same thing which was that R&B the way that we know it and love it is almost nonexistent unless you put a rapper on the front, middle, or end of your song. You won’t get the same type of attention. We all agreed that that’s pretty much the truth, so it’s important to this album.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The last album you released prior to this was “The Remedy”, which was an album that advanced your guys sound where you took it up to date with r&b. After that, what made you look back at what brought you success earlier in your career and visit your earlier work?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): It was really important for us to revisit the earlier work because you get to a point where you make songs and you make so many songs that you do forget old things you used to do. In order to get that back, you’ve got to refresh your memory and the whole vibe, just living a little bit. I think at least for me, I went back and listened to our first album as well as “JE Heartbreak” and “Jagged Little Thrill”. I didn’t get too much passed that because that would be kind of where we’re at now. I did listen to some of those records. I think the main thing I did for this album was just be free. It’s like you want to get into that vibe, but you just can’t trace your old path. Fill your head with it and just be free with it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The original “JE Heartbreak” album is looked at as a classic album and one of the best in r&b of all of the 2000’s. Was there any pressure on you guys to live up to the original on this album by naming it after it?
Jagged Edge (Wingo): There was definitely pressure for us to live up to the original because “JE Heartbreak” is our biggest record still to this day. There was pressure because you don’t want to undermine the process, you don’t want to do lesser than what was expected. Our fans expect the same result as the first time. We just wanted to give our fans what they wanted.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We put our review of “JE Heartbreak II” and we’re tough critics, but did feel it lived up to the original. Looking back at this completed body of work now, how do you see it living up to the original?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): I mean with people like yourself and some of the other publications we’ve read who weighed in on the album, the feedback has been good. So for us to live up to that, it would have to come from y’all. In our minds we always give y’all 150%. In our minds we love every song we ever made. So if y’all say that y’all feel like it lived up to it, then we’re onto the next project! *Laughs*
Jagged Edge (Brian): I think it’s about the way that you judge it. I don’t think just because of where we are in the time in this industry, I hate to say it aint, but the chances are it won’t sell as well as the first one did. We won’t don’t choose to make that our benchmark for success, how many records it sells. What our benchmark for success is were we able to stay consistent with the level of material that we make, and I think we were.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The first single “Hope” has been doing really well at radio. Can you guys talk about the next single?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): The next single is a song called “Getting Over You”. I think it’s one of those songs that most guys can relate to because at one point in your life whether it be kindergarten or sixth grade, it took you awhile to get over her. This song is just taking it from the standpoint of since you know that, you’re kinda standing back and asking yourself is this situation going to be one of those situations that takes me my whole life to get over.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How did you gets decide on that being the next single, especially since you’ve got so many great choices on this album? “Love Come Down” and “No Half Steppin” are some favorites of ours. What made this the one?
Jagged Edge (Wingo): There are a bunch of good records, but we got a little inside info that Jermaine Dupri is working on the remix to the next single, so we can’t wait! *Laughs*
Jagged Edge (Brandon): We always try to listen to the fans and a lot of fans have weighed in on every record. They’ve weighed in on every record, so it makes it hard, but we have made a nice concentrated effort towards that song, so we’ll see what happens.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You guys have been at this since the late 90’s, it’s been around 17 years now, this is your 8th album. How far do you guys plan to keep on taking this? What’s your plan for the future?
Jagged Edge (Wingo): As long as the fans keep accepting us, we’ll be here, we’re not going anywhere, we’re healthy, thank God. We’re still looking appropriate! *Laughs*
Jagged Edge (Brian): Nobody aint got not cataracts or anything! *Laughs*
Jagged Edge (Brandon): Most importantly, our talent is still intact. We are fans of a lot of people too, so we’ve got a chance to watch and see how some people’s talent wasn’t intact.
Jagged Edge (Brian): How some people can’t do them no more! We can still do us *Laughs*
Jagged Edge (Brandon): I think we still have a heads up and still look out for that.
YouKnowIGotSoul: It seems like every r&b group from the 90’s aside from you guys has broken up and eventually come back together. Everyone from Jodeci to 112 to Dru Hill to Next. How did you guys manage to keep it together all of these years?
Jagged Edge (Brandon): Just like that, seeing them do that and seeing them fall on their face with it! I’m not trying to be funny or knock anyone, but you shouldn’t have to be the type of person that gets burned by the fire. Sometimes you should be able to sit back and observe the dude getting burned by the fire and learn I aint gotta go there! *Laughs* For us, that’s what we did, we saw from day 1 our favorite groups break up, why would we wanna do that?
Jagged Edge (Kyle): It definitely effects the consumer who grew up with you. Once I heard about New Edition, I was like why!! It hurts you! We as artists, when we first started, I don’t think we understood the responsibility that we had to carry to r&b. We never thought that r&b would be so vast the way it is, and now we feel that we’re so responsible to bring it back to the fore front and let people know that we represent it. If it’s going to take Jagged Edge to bring it back, we’re going to do it! By golly we’re here!
YouKnowIGotSoul: You definitely did your part with “JE Heartbreak II”. Anything you’d like to add?
Jagged Edge (Wingo): Thank you! The album is in stores right now, our fans are the most important parts of our career, support your favorite band Jagged Edge.
Jagged Edge (Brian): To all of the questions we get about all of the other male groups, we don’t have no beef with them guys. I aint tryna be funny, but I don’t even think about those guys, so it definitely aint no beef, so stop asking, thank you!