Lloyd: Peek Condition
Usher’s morphed into a home-loving, devoted husband and father; Ne-Yo’s declared 2008 ‘The Year Of The Gentleman’; Chris Brown’s emerged as the new teen prince…
In turn leaving the much-coveted slot of R&B’s Number One young lover-man to be grabbed by... New Orleans-born, tattooed 22-year-old US chart-topper Lloyd.
A resident of Atlanta since the age of two, Lloyd Harlin Polite, Jr. was originally discovered at just 10 years old, while rehearsing for a show at his performing arts school by singer Joyce Irby (formerly of Eighties hit-making R&B girl group Klymaxx). Whereupon he immediately joined the short-lived pre-teen urban pop quartet Ntoon, before eventually signing his first solo deal in 2001 with basketball hero Magic Johnson’s equally-ill-fated MJM label.
With his yearning tenor tones being “re-discovered” in 2004 by controversial music entrepreneur/producer Irv Gotti, Lloyd finally released his debut solo LP (‘Southside’) in early 2005 for Gotti’s then-globally-successful The Inc label (Ja Rule/Ashanti); before money-laundering allegations would see said label (and its artists) being put on hold until its re-emergence in early 2007 (with Lloyd’s sophomore album ‘Street Love’) via a new deal with Universal Motown.
With ‘Street Love’ last year going on to attain Gold-selling status Stateside (as well as spawning two major hit singles - the Lil Wayne-featuring Number One ‘You’; plus its Top Five follow-up ‘Get It Shawty’), Lloyd this month returns with his new, third album ‘Lessons In Love’. Which features production input from the likes of Polow Da Don (Usher/Fergie); Jasper & Big Reese; and Eric Hudson.
Friendly and oozing Southern-gentlemanly charm, an instantly-likeable Lloyd hooks up with ‘B&S’ to discuss his sexually-charged new LP; growing up as a child of the industry; plus his new production company Young Goldie Productions.
What did you want to achieve with your new, third album ‘Lessons In Love’?
“The title concept derives from a schoolboy fantasy of mine. Where I become a professor of a classroom full of gorgeous girls, and I feel the best thing I can give them that’s really worth having is lessons in love! So this time I wanted to be a bit more graphic with my lyrics when pertaining to relationships and sex. As you can hear on songs like ‘Party All Over Your Body’ - which is produced by Polow Da Don and is very, very provocative - and also the track ‘Please Have My Baby’. Where I’m basically saying ‘I’ve travelled the world and you’re the girl who has my heart. So let’s aim for the greatest thing that should come outta having sex - a BABY!’”
Do you feel having over a decade’s industry experience has made you more confident?
“Yeah, I’ve been recording professionally since the age of 10; I signed my first solo deal at 15… And I think everything up to this point has been a stepping-stone. To where I’m now much more confident in my style and my ability to create hit records. So on this album I just wanted to reach new heights, while at the same time creating stability amongst my fans. Because stability is probably one of the most important things when it comes to identifying your sound and separating yourself from the crowd. And for me that stability lies in a mix of fun-loving dance beats and reality soul music that I try to blend scientifically.”
You’ve released your new album virtually midway between new sets from Usher and Ne-Yo. How do you feel your music compares?
“I think all three of us have very, very complex and different personalities, and that shows in our music. Usher is a guy who’s been-there-done-that and has now found a sense of stability in his love-life, which he’s expressing on his latest record. Whereas I’m still young and hungry, and still trying to experience things for the first time. I’m still all about trying to find that one girl for me, and having fun while I’m at it! Then, with Ne-Yo being another great friend of mine, we also diversify in our styles. While he’s calling his album ‘Year of The Gentleman’, mine is more the year of the LOVER! Plus what’s different about me is I also have the ability to successfully blend my own R&B vibe with that of the really hardcore hip hop artists.”
Can you expand on the strong ties you have with the rap community?
“I enjoy hip hop and R&B music equally. And the cool thing about what I’ve been able to do, within the past few years here in The States, is that I’ve been featured on a lotta big what I call tough-guy rappers’ albums. I’ve worked with Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Lil Scrappy... You know, all these guys make hip hop music which is naturally rough, rugged-around-the-edge and kind of aggressive. So then I’M able to bring a smooth, melodic and loveable R&B feel to what THEY do. Which is why I named my last album ‘Street Love’.”
So what about the rappers featured on your new album?
“On this new album, my next single (‘Girls Around The World’) features Lil Wayne, who is by far the hottest rapper alive right now. And, with him and me already having a tremendously successful history of working together, he brings me that stability. While for the track ‘How We Do It’ - which is extremely high-powered and all about just representing where you’re from - I’ve worked with my friend Ludacris. Because I feel, in the past few years, he’s really represented my hometown of Atlanta very well. He’s helped put it on the map to where it’s probably THE mecca of music right now. And I also have a version featuring Sway - a rapper from London - because the UK market is very important to me. Like at the very first meeting I had with my record label, I made sure that I made time for my international department. I was like ‘Man what do I have to do to get OVER there? I need to get a passport - so I can show ‘em what I”ve GOT!’!”
Can you fill me in on growing up in Atlanta?
“After the murder of my father, when I was two years old my mom decided to move me and my sister from New Orleans to Atlanta, in the hope of more opportunity for us and a new start in life. And Atlanta proved an incredible place for me growing up, because you never know who’s around the corner and you never know the talent that’s in your neighbourhood! I grew up around the likes of Dallas Austin, TLC, Jermaine Dupri, L.A. & Babyface…I’ve always been around these what I’d call ‘living legends’. Plus Atlanta’s a very diverse town, with a lot to choose from. So I’m very, very appreciative to have grown up there.”
So what ‘s the story of you being discovered by former Klymaxx singer Joyce Irby?
“At eight years old I started doing musical theatre. Then, at the age of 10, I enrolled myself into a Performing Arts elementary school. And I totally say that I was at the right place at the right time. Because what happened was, Joyce Irby was new to the area and looking for young talent. She grabbed the phone book, started with the letter ‘A’, and began calling schools. I happened to go to Avondale Elementary, so mine was maybe the first school on the list. She spoke to the music director, who said ‘I got this great kid. You should come and check him out. He’s got a practice for a recital later today’... So she came down, watched me do my thing and when - at the end - I walked up to her and said ‘Hey, you want me to sing for you?`, she kinda laughed and was like ‘Sure! Why not?!’. So I went on the stage, I hit a few notes... And from there she actually helped facilitate my first record deal!”
… Which turned out to be as part of the pre-teen quartet NToon?
“Yeah, NToon originally started as a trio. We were all between the ages of 10 to 12, but then I ended up also incorporating my brother - who was six at the time - into the group. And I remember the time I signed that first record deal, I broke down! I cried tears of joy, because I felt like my dreams were coming true before my very eyes! We made R&B-driven pop music, and that really was my first taste of the road life - travelling, performing, going to different cities, seeing different faces… You know, it really prepared me for what I’m doing now in every way. We released an album, and a cool single that was pretty big on Radio Disney. The only thing I didn’t really like was that, because I was so young, I was forced to create kind of a soft-core version of R&B music. Because there’s only so much you can sing about, and so many emotions you’re allowed to express, as a kid. And I’d always be telling myself ‘I wanna run with the BIG boys!’. Then, after the group disbanded, my love for music was so great that I decided to start all over, totally record a brand new demo, and actually pursue a solo deal.”
You eventually signed your current record deal with Irv Gotti’s globally-successful The Inc Records, shortly before the label closed down for two years due to a highly-publicised FBI investigation. How do you now feel about that whole situation?
“While yes, over the past few years Irv and The Inc have encountered a few trials and tribulations, I feel my job now is to bring it back to where it all started and what it’s all about. Which I figure is making great music. To be honest I’d definitely say the worst part of those two years for me was having to watch the game from the sidelines, while knowing all the time that I do have a lot to offer. But, while watching my peers signed to other labels playing the game without me and enjoying it was frustrating, ultimately I just took all that and turned it into motivation! I was basically like ‘Man, the next time the coach puts me in the game, I promise to slam-dunk!’... And, while a lotta other people did call me during that period and offer me deals, ultimately I did realise that Irv was one of the first people to believe in me - and so there’s gotta be some form of LOYALTY here! So obviously I stayed with the Inc - and both my last album and this new album basically represent me showing my appreciation to Irv Gotti, by delivering some great songs.”
Can you tell me more about your own production company Young Goldie Productions?
“At 22 years old I’m honoured and blessed to be one of the youngest executive producers in the industry. So my goal with Young Goldie Productions is to give younger musicians all over the world a chance to let their voices be heard through music. And, following the success of my ‘Street Love’ album (Young Goldie Productions’ first project) last year, I’m now in the process of bringing through my first new act - a Bronx, New York-based artist by the name of Tokyo Diva. So, while Young Goldie may be a baby gorilla right now, in five years time it’s gonna be HUGE! You know, I have no intention of limiting myself or my abilities in any way. Because I don’t just listen to pop, R&B and hip hop! I like ALL genres! Coldplay for me is probably my favourite band in the world; I listen to Greenday; I listen to The (Red Hot) Chilli Peppers; I listen to Gnarls Barkley… I could go on and on. I pretty much listen to everything that I think is cool, and so my focus will just be on making good music, PERIOD.”
The album 'Lessons In Love' is out now. The single 'Girls Around The World Feat. Lil Wayne' follows September 1, all through The Inc Records/Universal Motown
Words PETE LEWIS