Born in Toledo, Ohio on June 3, 1978, Chester “Lyfe” Jennings is a Platinum-selling R&B/Soul singer-songwriter, producer and instrumentalist. With his authentic, soulful voice and innovative lyrical ability, Jennings transformed the music world with his 2004 debut 268-192. The critically acclaimed album has sold over 1.1 million copies in the U.S. to date providing the necessary vehicle for Lyfe Jennings to stake his claim as a pivotal part of the R&B/Soul movement.
The soulful singer has experienced supernatural favor on a number of occasions, including his most famous coming off a prison bid. As referred to in many of his lyrics, music became Jennings’ escape during his 10-year sentence. It was during his incarceration that Jennings honed in on his musical abilities — singing, playing and writing about his experiences while behind bars. His debut album 268-192, titled after his identification number, received overwhelming acclaim and the New York Times called Jennings “…a socially minded R&B singer” after hearing the pain and rawness in his voice and message.
Lyfe Jennings‘ controversial new single “STATISTICS” was #1 most added at Urban Radio. The song will be featured on his fourth and last studio album “I STILL BELIEVE,” to be released by his own label, Jesus Swings, through Asylum/Warner Bros. Records on July 27.
In this exclusive interview as apart of our Black Music Month ‘Interview Series,’ Lyfe speaks to Aries from UrbanBridgez.com about his new controversial single, his last album and why he decided now to stop recording, being booted from an up-coming summer tour, the biggest misconception about him and much more!
UrbanBridgez.com: Lets talk ‘Statistics,’ where did you come up with the concept of that song?
Lyfe: Steve Harvey’s book (‘Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man’) gave me the concept & just different things going on in the media. Just with relationships and I just thought I would put my two cents in on what I thought about it. In one of those mind method ways, it’s worked before! So people will actually listen, you know. I also thought it would be a cool angle to to base a song on.
UrbanBridgez.com: It’s creating debates on our site and forum, was that your whole purpose, to create a dialogue between the sexes?
Lyfe: You know I didn’t even think of the dialogue between them right. But I looked online and it’s like a billion hits about that stuff man. I didn’t think it was going to do all of that.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell me about “I Still Believe,” the story behind the title and the overall vibe of the album?
Lyfe: The story behind the title, is that we’re just getting away from, we’re texting too much on the phone, we’re having less analog conversations and more digital. So the idea of the songs is basically just getting back to that point, you know where people can have meaningful relationships. I mean people are texting their kids now, I wish I would text my kid.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who did you work with this time around?
Lyfe: I worked with Eric Hudson, Brian Michael Cox, I worked with a new producer named T-Minus, who did that Ludacris ‘Drop it Low’ & produced ‘Statistics.’ And I got one feature on there with Anthony Hamilton.
UrbanBridgez.com: I’ve seen you live twice in concert in Minneapolis. So with this being your last album, I was happy to hear you’re going to still tour from time to time. Why the decision now to focus more on family then the music?
Lyfe: You know just really coming home and seeing the way my kids act as they grow. Just seeing little quirk’s in their personalities. They need a man there, and not just to tell them what to do but to show them by example, to be around!
UrbanBridgez.com: Do you plan on hitting the road this summer in support of the new release?
Lyfe: Yeah, but actually we were hitting the road. Me, Anthony Hamilton, Raheem DeVaughn, Jahiem and KEM. But they said they didn’t want me on that tour anymore, even after I did all of my contracts and things with them. They don’t want me on the tour anymore because I had a felony and it’s Budweiser!
Lyfe: Yeah that’s what I was like, wow! What’s so crazy about it is and this is the first time this has ever happened. But the crazy thing, is my career started with Budweiser. I won the whole Budweiser New Artist search! I won that whole thing and that’s what helped me to get my deal. Now ironically, Budweiser because of the felony that I had, not that I have now. I did the Budweiser thing when I came out of jail! And now they’re saying they don’t want me on the tour, imagine that…
UrbanBridgez.com: Speaking of, you’ve dealt with your share of downsides to being in this business with things like the death of La La Brown. What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with being a celebrity in and the public eye?
Lyfe: You know just things like that. Where people want to discredit what I’ve done in the music industry because I have a past. I think we all make mistakes and just like I don’t think you can compare peoples mistakes in comparison of other peoples mistakes. You can’t judge your blessings in comparison of someone else’s blessings.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s the biggest misconception you think some may have about you?
Lyfe: Probably that I’m always serious and I’m not! I’m a jokester and my songs are serious but I think that the impact the media has on society is so underrated! It’s so exploitative, and I’m very serious about that. But in my regular life, I’m a very funny guy man (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: For Black Music Month, what’s the first album you remember ever getting and what would you say is your favorite soul/R&B album of all time?
Lyfe: I think my favorite album of all time would be Anita Baker’s ‘Compositions.’ She’s just a crazy artist and talked about real stuff, very unique! I think style-wise and vocally. The first album I got? I think it was, ironically and this is going to sound crazy (laughs)…The first album that I ever got was Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ Like the real album, they gave me the real album.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s next for you after this album?
Lyfe: Man I’m going to get into these movies, I just shot one. Some childrens book series, working with some new artists right now, that’s going to be coming out on my label. So just alot of stuff like that, I’m going to still be involved in the arts, but just not like that…
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Lyfe: I want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to do what I do! When nobody else didn’t believe, this is all fan stuff. I sold 3,000 my first week off my first album. & it turned into platinum album. So they’ve definitely given me what I need and I hope hard, that I’ve given them what they need!
Follow Lyfe on Twitter: @Lyfeonline419