J. Hollins – ILLwriteR Interview
“R&B is nonexistent in mainstream,” expressed a concerned Chicago musician and vocal sensation J. Hollins during his interview with IllwriteR’s Hector De La Rosa. “Artists are not contributing the element of soul or the art of lovemaking in the music.” A moment ago, the vocalist heard a Top 8 at eight and to, “my surprise not one R&B record was played. Mainstream considers artists like Fetty Wap R&B for his melodic rapping.” He clearly states Wap is not considered R&B or soul music.
This is where opportunity lies for the soulful crooner. J. Hollins regards his music as, “the soundtrack of a lifetime. I compose and deliver contemporary/traditional R&B not exclusively for SoundScan notoriety but for [the masses] to groove to while singing in the shower, cleaning the house, or during date nights.”
He creates music people can create everlasting memories to verses releasing music to garner streams only for the [the masses] to forget it exists. “Music is treated as a disposable item,” mentioned J. Hollins with frustration. “It has been habitual for us to create and cultivate things only to put them down like a toddler who gets a new toy for Christmas and plays with it until he/she gets bored.” He chuckles and at the same time displays seriousness. He adds, “the toddler does not pay attention to the toy until someone else comes along and makes use of it.” He suggests a change in mentality. “Consumers and fanatics should take more time appreciating and supporting music especially R&B than spending time abhorring what is being labeled as great music.”
Today’s R&B artists sound similar without distinction: auto-tune over trap production. For J. Hollins, “dichotomy and duality make me different from other hip-hop/soul R&B acts. I have a distinctive voice.” His songwriting and subject matter are, “more intricate and detailed than the typical artist. My lyrics paint pictures.” Not many artists can actually sing and rap. For this singer, he manages to do well with both. This is demonstrated in his latest endeavor and best work to date Casanova Black (A Love Story).
“This album is an infusion of heavy drums, striking chords, [thumping] bass, vocal arrangements and harmonies at its finest,” propose J. Hollins. He recorded up to twenty songs for the album. Only seven made the final cut. “I wrote this album like I was writing a [script] to a movie.” He knew how he wanted it to start and when to end.
“Casanova Black (A Love Story)” has a sophisticated and mature sound from other albums [in my discography],” explains the impassioned singer. “It tells a story of a strained relationship between a couple and the [quest] to rekindle their love. Question is will they stand the test of time and be able to weather the storm?” This is where the masses tune in to hear the fate of the troubled couple.
While listening, the masses may ask who Casanova Black is. His reply, “There is a distinction between J. Hollins and Casanova Black.” He goes in-depth, “Casanova Black is who I am on stage, in front of the camera, and in videos. J. Hollins is a devoted husband, father, and personal trainer with a voice of gold.” “A friend of mine gave me that name for my suave, debonair, and charismatic nature. Therefore, I made it my artistic persona.”
Besides the current state of R&B, the maturity of J. Hollins and of his friends served an inspiration in creating Casanova Black (A Love Story). “It is gratifying to see us all transform from boys to men by becoming great boyfriends, fiancés, fathers, and husbands without society dictating their standards and norms of what is acceptable for us as men.”
Hollins wants for people to take something valuable from songs like “Heartbreak Therapy” or “If I.” He adds, “If my music helps them navigate their way through pain caused by [love’s heartbreak] and mend hearts, I accomplished my purpose in my artistry.” J. Hollins continues his interview with journalist Hector De La Rosa to discuss the behind the scenes of Casanova Black (A Love Story) most noteworthy tracklist.
Chose Not to See
The song centers on the popular guy everyone loves whose profession is either an athlete or entertainer. He has a significant other that loves him. However, he is the life of the party and a lover of many women. Eventually, he loses the [apple of his eye] due to his carelessness. He faults her for always taking him back the minute he slips up when she knows the kind of man he is and the lifestyle he carries. Men can relate to this record. I am sure many of us have been in this kind of predicament.
This song is the aftermath of the single “Chose Not to See.” After the heavy partying, strident liquor consumption, and smashing rebound women, buddy sits by his lonely thinking of the impairment done to the relationship- a childish act. He realized his significant other did not care about his public persona, [materialism, or prestige]. She loved him for who he was and saw something he did not see in himself.
This song is considered the apology record. It lyrically cites, ‘In the past I know I hurt you/ Please believe I never meant to.’ The fella learns from his growing pains and tries to win her heart. He asks for a second chance. There is ample begging going on in the record.
I wanted that nostalgic gritty analog sound that hardly exists in today’s music and pay homage to the ‘90s. It seemed fit to use the Jodeci interpolation on this record. The sound of the quartet was refreshing during that particular era. The idea was [a no brainer].
180 featuring Kng Drty
This record is the continuation of the “Love You” single. It is obvious she wants to stay with him and vice versa. Though, she contemplates whether their love is [worth fighting for or for the both to go their separate ways]. He knows she is acerbically hurt and wants to punish him. He wants to pick up where they left off promising what was done in the past will never happen again.
Shut It Down featuring Hyph
This song summarizes how he becomes a better man. What he used to entertain no longer interests him. He has matured to where he had no problem shutting down the very things that blinded him from true love. He values his significant other by putting [that woman first].
-Hector De La Rosa