Exclusive: Lyfe Jennings Live in the Suite903 Office

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Lyfe Jennings came by the Suite903 headquarters to sing a track from his forthcoming album, Sooner or Later. We also sat down with him for a Q&A about his process, his kids, and retiring from music.

Tell us about your new album.
I love what we have come up with so far. We have a couple different features for a couple different feels on the album. We’re still working, still in the studio. We expect to be done next month and have it out before the end of the year. I’ve been working with Dre and Vidal, Warren Campbell, Inas. Features wise are Ludacris, Fab, Bobby Valentino, Anthony Hamilton a couple other people. The songs are done but were still trying to pick and see what will be best for the album. I’m not really switching up lyrically, but musically I’m trying some different stuff. It’s more up tempo stuff than I would otherwise have but it’s still tasteful.

Is it true that this will be your last album?
Yeah, this is my last hump right here.

How come?
Well the reason is I have two little boys at home and I’m not really there a lot. I’m gone around eight months and they are around that age where I can’t really do that. I want to make sure I’m there to guide them in their footsteps. I owe them that. I got one that’s four and one that’s two. I got a couple different businesses and investments; I got a book series that’s coming out and a screenplay which is getting modified into a series plus a couple other things. I’ll be getting it popping, it’s not just the music.

Which brings us to your imprint, Jesus swings. Where did the name come from and what is your idea behind the label?

Well the name came about because when Jesus was around his life was sort of like a pendulum; up and down, that’s the type of things I want my label to progress to. I got a couple people signed to the label. One lady in particular is Yolanda Renee. I call her Gritz. We got a couple other acts were working on, but right now the concentration is getting my project up and its going to aid everyone else and their project.

What’s going on with “Haters,” your first single?
“Haters” is the street single man, everybody was going ham over my little situation and I was just like Lyfe is alright. I didn’t really do nothing but put music out that I thought wasn’t going to be popular from the musical perspective but from the communicable perspective as well. I just wanted to let them know that Lyfe is good. His kids are straight you know.

You’ve talked a lot about the inspiration that came while you were incarcerated. You had a lot of time to perfect your craft for the first album. Where do you get your inspiration from these days?
I draw my inspiration from people and everyday life. I don’t think I had time to perfect my talent; I just had time to respect the talent. I think that’s the difference, when you respect it you take the time to nurture it and when you perfect it you are at the tip top and I think I’m still growing.

Do you ever go back to prisons to perform or is it some type of outreach there?

Oh yeah, I go see homies, I send them money, I go back talk to the wardens and all the cats like that. I definitely do that.

It’s very rare that an artist would say that they would leave their whole career because they have to focus on the family. Tell us about your kids.
I like the dudes man. One is four and the other is two. The four-year-old is into computers right now. The two-year-old is a bully. We call him Little Debo. His name is Elijah and the other’s name is Phoenix, and I got a little girl that’s 8 months. It’s like you got a dad in the music business it’s not going to really seem like I’m there. I’m not going to stay a week away. I don’t care where I’m at. If I’m gone for a week I’m flying back to see them then going back. I just wish that I got back on the road because I had a little situation that popped off so I was at homes for a couple of months and I got used to doing the whole thing man. I knew I was coming back to the music but I was like this is what you need to be doing this is where you need to be. They got a lot of bad habits that I’m not allowing you know so I need to be there.

Exclusive: Lyfe Jennings Live in the Suite903 Office