joe-1In the world of R&B, most times than not, the objective is to soothe the soul and relax the mind—and veteran singer Joseph Lewis Thomas ranks among the upper echelon in that category.

Known professionally as Joe, the native from Columbus, Georgia has made a career for himself by virtually living on music charts, via albums or hit singles.

With eight records in, (one of them being a greatest hits compilation) the man who’s famous for crafting songs capable of stealing your girlfriend on a whim returns to make probationary boyfriends fear for their safety once again with his ninth project, Signature.

Leaving Jive Records after 13 years amidst R. Kelly’s dictatorship, that lead to stalled promotions and radio spins, the man behind massive tunes like ‘I Wanna Know’ and ‘Stutter’ now calls Kedar Massenburg’s Kedar Entertainment home.

Fresh off a morning performance on the Wendy Williams Show 20 blocks away, you could find Joe back at the Kedar Entertainment offices dressed to the teeth in all black from head to toe, sipping on a glass of wine, and talking about everything from his keys to longevity all the way up to his current project, which he calls his best work to date.

iHipHop.com: So how does is feel to get all the chicks? [Laughs]

Joe: Oh man… [Laughing]…

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]… So, Signature debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart, and #1 on the Independent Music Chart. Did any of this come to a shock or surprise to you?

Joe: You know, it’s a good look—it’s a good look… Especially for an independent company, because you don’t really get recognition you expect when you’re on an independent… So that was definitely a nice look for us…

We always expect the best, because we know when you have good music, good things happen… But you never can tell in today’s market, so we didn’t expect to do that well; but we did expect something…

iHipHop.com: Speaking of today’s market, how did you go into Signature? Were you trying to have that balance of capturing younger ears, while still pleasing your lifetime fans?

Joe: Well, you always have that in the back of your mind when you become a businessman, and now I’m an executive here [Kedar Entertainment] with my label as well… So you definitely want to think on that business level also…

But it was easy for me because I just went back to basics, and I wrote the whole album… I felt like it was time for me to go solo on this whole thing, and I have no Hip-Hop artists, and no features… It’s all about straight music, and songs and melodies…

iHipHop.com: So that was a conscious decision on your part, to have no features on the record?

Joe: Yeah, I kind of went that way just to have a solo… I just wanted to keep it moving…

iHipHop.com: Talk a little more about your label, do you have any signed acts as of now?

Joe: It’s called 563 Music, and it’s in a partnership with Kedar Entertainment… It’s a great situation, and we have a deal with Fontana Distribution, and they get a small percentage…

When you’re on the business side, you want to handle your career… I do have an artist I’m getting ready to work with, and his name is Bishop Young Don… He’s a songwriter as well and he wrote ‘Stutter’ for me as a matter of fact…

joe-coveriHipHop.com: What was, or is your favorite song on the album?

Joe: One of the last records I did, and it’s called ‘Miss My Baby.I wanted to produce it with a live band, because all this stuff is done with a live band now…

So once the band got on it, it took it to a whole ‘nother level, and ‘Miss My Baby’ is one of those records… It’s fire… And lyrically, it’s right on point…

iHipHop.com: Speaking of lyrical aspect, I know you write for other artists too… So are you keeping all the good stuff?

Joe: I’m keeping all the good stuff this time baby! [Laughing]

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]…

Joe: [Laughing]… I’m starting to write more for other people now that I got these records out…

I feel that it’s important to implement my style with a lot of artists who are up-and-coming… So I’m getting back to my songwriting thing man, and it’s fun again…

iHipHop.com: From Everything, to All That I Am, to My Name Is Joe right down to your other projects—where does your newest body of work rank amongst those just mentioned?

Joe: This is number one, and I know people say that all the time, but I really feel like that… I kind of stepped it up on this one, and I always wanted to go into the studio with a band and do the live thing; like the old school guys used to do…

So I feel like this one put me into an elite class of the artists that I listened to, like Marvin Gaye and all those guys… When you listen to their music, you hear real guys, not vocal tracks… So I feel real comfortable about this record, and I think it’s the best record I’ve done so far…

iHipHop.com: A huge part of your career was spent over at Jive Records, so when you made the decision to leave, why not align yourself with another major? What made you choose to plant your flag over here at Kedar Entertainment?

joe-2Joe: Well I would’ve been doing the same thing, and I would’ve been following the same steps that I’ve always been taking…

I wanted to go into a new direction… I didn’t want to get caught up in the system either; because that’s a numbers game you play over there…

I don’t want to play the numbers; I want to get back to how I felt about music when I first got signed… I wasn’t thinking about numbers, and I didn’t know anything about numbers…

But once you see how this business is ran and how the system goes, you pay attention… I focus on the numbers on one side, but I’m not going to let that take away from the craft and creativity…

iHipHop.com: Since you brought up numbers… [Laughs] You’ve been nominated for a Grammy seven times, but you haven’t been able to take one home yet… So are you one of those, “I’m just happy to be nominated” people, or does it get at you a little bit that you haven’t gotten one yet?

Joe: I’m going to give you real talk: You see when you watch MTV Cribs, and everybody got a couple of Grammys on there? I want to get that!

It’s funny, because I never thought I’d be nominated, and then it came by surprise, “Wow, I got seven nominations?!” But to get one trust me; that will take me over the top “B.” I don’t even know if I’ll talk to you next time! [Laughing]

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]…

Joe: [Laughs]… To get that, it means that you’re recognized on the highest level, and I’m sure that recognition is like none other…

joepicture001iHipHop.com: How do you feel about today’s R&B talent pool, has it gotten deeper or more shallow?

Joe: I feel the same as everybody else… I think R&B followed Hip-Hop too much, and now R&B singers want to be rappers… I was guilty of that too, putting rappers on my album, which isn’t bad, but I think it goes to a higher level than that.

Can you produce your own records? With Hip-Hop, they’re the “best” at everything they do… No disrespect, but you have people like DJ Khaled screaming out, “I’M THE BEST!” and a lot of rappers haven’t done nothing…

That’s with the young generation not getting with the program, you got to put in your work man…

iHipHop.com: With that said, do you feel as if you’re competing with the younger generation? Like the “Trey Songz’s,” the “J. Holiday’s,” and such?

Joe: Not at all, and I don’t want people to take this the wrong way: But I’m sitting in a different league man… My cloth is cut from something completely different, and I really feel like I have that old school gene in me when it comes to making records…

I’m also a musician as well, and a lot of young artists don’t play instruments… I play the piano, the drums, guitar, etc… I think that really helps when it comes to the overall picture… I’m really passionate about this thing, and I’ll sit and practice all day… That’s something the kids don’t get, but they get the lyrical part…

But sometimes they overwrite the song with too many words, take some of the word out, we’re not rappers… We just have to get to more simplistic songs that have better meaning, and that’s what R&B has always been about…

iHipHop.com: So what’s been your key to success when it comes to staying in this short-term memory atmosphere known as the music industry? How are you able to still move units, and remain within the top ten when it comes to chart positions after all these years?

Joe: I’m patient, very patient… And that’s to everything that I do… Something might not pop off right away, but you can’t be like, “Awe man, I’m irrelevant now.” I just kept going whether it was good record sales, or not…

I just kept it moving, because I love to do songs and I love creating something from scratch… When you can build something from scratch, and people like it, it builds your ego, and it gains your confidence back… It’s about longevity now, because I want to do this sh*t when I’m 60-65 years old…

I want to be like the black Frank Sinatra… If those cats could do it for such a long time, why can’t we? This is not Hip-Hop, this is R&B, and what we stand for is something a little classier…

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