IN THE SPOTLIGHT | JILL SCOTT

She is an artist with an abiding,deep commitment to lyrical honesty and musical integrity. Simply put,if Jill Scott feels it,she writes and sings it. While vivid imagery,metaphor analogy are her stock in trade,there’s no pretense,no hiding. She’s upfront,in-your-face always real,using her own distinctive poetry to breathe life into words,digging inside to bring forth the accompanying emotion. It is that authenticity that has endeared Jill Scott to everyday music buyers who hear what she’s saying through her music and respond according. Folks who know the rough and tumble of life,love right,love wrong,passion misspent,passion fulfilled,lonely nights and empty days and everything in between declare,‘Yeah,girl!,’ ‘Go ‘head on!’ and ‘I feel ya’. And in the tradition of the four albums that precede it,THE REAL THING is anothers cause for celebration for those who live for the real.

 

Commenting on her latest,much-awaited Hidden Beach CD – which features production work by Scott Storch (DMX,Snoop Dogg,50 Cent,Ja Rule),Jill’s musical director Adam Blackstone (The Roots),Carvin “Ransum” Haggins &Ivan “Orthodox” Barias (Musiq,Chris Brown,Mario) and JR Hutson among others – Jill says,“I thought the last album (2004’s Grammy-winning “Beautifully Human,” Words &Sounds,Vol. 2) was more peaceful,an affirmation…On the new record,I feel aggressive about what I want,need and desire and you can hear it in my vocal choices,in the tracks. I’d say in a way,it is a sequel to “Beautifully Human” but it’s grittier,sassier than the last one. I’m feeling gutsier,I’m feeling much more bold,free. In many ways,it’s closer to my first album. My original concept was to show different women – you know,like the housekeeper,the stripper,the congresswoman –but as I started writing and recording,I started taking on all these characters. I put myself in each woman’s place…and found that it became more about me,all of it,with the envy,the anger,the frustration,the loneliness,the joy,the passion and the rapture. And that’s what makes it juicy…”Juicy,indeed.

The first single,“Hate On Me” one of the fifteen cuts Jill wrote on the album,with its powerhouse production is edgy,intense,exemplifying the kind of work for which Jill is known. “I’m reminded of the biblical scripture,‘No weapon formed against me shall prosper.’ I realized that there are people who are gonna be haters. That never affected me until I started noticing it,seeing that there were people…family,friends…who were angry to see me revealing my blessings,wishing they were me. I had to let go of some people in my life because of that. It’s been healing for me to say I’m still gonna be me,to say to those people,‘go right ahead,whatever you say won’t change my destiny.’ We spend too much time ‘hating’ the hater. If I’m mean to shine and glow,I will. That’s what the song is saying…”Jill – who has her first major starring role in Tyler Perry’s fall 2007 “Why Did I Get Married?” movie – agrees that many of the tracks on THE REAL THING have an autobiographical ring. The smooth’n’mellow “Wanna Be Loved” is an example:“I want to be appreciated,liked for who I am,respected. The song reflects that aching yearning I have to be loved and I know that’s what all people want…” The midnight love-flavored slow jam “All I” is about “being in a lonely marriage. There has to be a level of passion in a relationship. As a wife,you can become the ‘good girl’ and your love life can get really repetitive,sex can be very clinical. I’m saying [inside a marriage] I can still be your ‘nasty’ baby…”

Jill’s “Come See Me” evokes lyrical comparisons with Marvin Gaye’s classic “Distant Lover” from his “Let’s Get It On” LP which – much like THE REAL THING – dealt with topics of fire and desire,joy and pain. The soulful poetess accepts the comparison gladly (“I love the way Marvin was willing to look at his life”) noting,“My song is about distance,about being far away from someone who gives you great pleasure. It’s almost like a plea. I love the line that says ‘I know it’s hard over there’ because it has more than one meaning! I write stories where some things are clear…and some you don’t get until the fifteenth listen!” Ever provocative,Jill uses “How It Make You Feel” to pose a thoughtful if jarring question:“What if,” she asks,“every black female disappeared? That’s a question to the world but particularly to black men. I love to talk to my brothers,not at them not to them. Think about it…how would it be if black women vanished tomorrow?” Expressing female bravado is yet anothers ingredient in this multi-faceted artist’s musical palette and two songs come to mind. The rock-oriented title track,like the interlude “Breathe” are what Jill terms “crotch-holding songs! With ‘The Real Thing,’ I’m like smellin’ myself…and ‘Breathe’ reminds me of the storytellers in rap and hip-hop,LL,Kanye West,Jay-Z,Nas so it’s like I’m going to be cocky right now!” Erotic love,the reality of sex and sensual satisfaction form the basis for a number of cuts and memorable interludes that have been an integral part of Jill’s recorded work since her groundbreaking 2000’s “Who Is Jill Scott?” Words &Sounds Vol. 1,which earned Jill four Grammy nominations,including a Best New Artist nomination. With its Southern hip-hop feel,“Do It Babe” (featuring Slim) is “a request to keep it up,the keep the intensity you had before,to rock with that.” The highly-charged,heavily percussive “Epiphany” is,Jill says,“explicit without being vulgar. The tricky thing about sex is that it’s so explosive physically and everything seems right at the time but the moment – and I mean the moment – after,you’re left with a longing…especially if you want more,like I do!” Equally explicit:“Crown Royal On Ice” which Jill declares is her “favorite piece of writing on the album. In R&B,sometimes people just say things just to be sexual or to be nasty but they’re not necessarily poetic. . I wrote this as one consistent stream of consciousness,as one sentence. There are harsh words,soft words,lots and lots of images…”

For more info on Jill Scott, go to: http://www.jillscott.com/

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