Fifteen million records sold, five consecutive Top 40 Billboard singles, and over a decade of international success, the UK’s finest R&B artist, Jay Sean, is back in the UK promoting his newly released mixtape The Mistress II. I caught up with him ahead of his release for an exclusive interview!
After being signed to Cash Money Records for six years, with whom he released two highly successful albums, All or Nothing, featuring hits Down and Do You Remember, and Neon, Jay made the shocking announcement in October that he was to leave the record company.
Explaining his decision, Jay said, “It got to the point where I couldn’t be at that label anymore, I couldn’t stand all the weighting and the lack of support. We had a great amount of success together, we did big things, we created history but in the end, I just sat down with them and said I need to go and do this, this is where I’m happier.”
His new album is a clear shift back to his musical roots and harkens back the original UK urban style, which gained him the attention that launched his career. A reflection of a sound on his earlier albums such as Me Against Myself, Jay’s new singles Tears In The Ocean, Jameson and All I Wanna Do showcase his renowned R&B style.
“I wanted to set the tone with Tears in the Ocean. I wanted people to understand what this project is about. Of course I can do the fun up-tempo party songs but that’s just one side of me, at the core, this is what I do.”
Explaining how he came up with the idea for The Mistress II, he said, “When I was writing my last album Neon, with Cash Money, I was struggling to inject enough soul and substance and passion into it to be honest. I knew that it had to be commercially viable; it had to have something that would sell because when you’re with a record company, they’re investing money in you. They want stuff that radio will play and that’s the difficult thing about being an artist signed to a label.”
Jay made it clear that he is happy with his decision, despite R&B becoming a “niche” now. “I find more joy and satisfaction out of this kind of music, then writing two minutes of a song that will be here today, gone tomorrow.”
The theme throughout the new album is adultery, which is often considered a taboo subject, particularly in Asian culture. Jay’s response was, “There’s been films about it, so why not an album? With Mistress, I basically made a movie in my head, about a guy who is married to a girl and he falls for someone else. In the beginning, its fun, playful, risky, an adventure and he feels alive but then there is the guilt that comes along with it, pain, lying, deceit, all of that and that allows me to write songs about everything.”
The Real Jay Sean
Turning the question on to him, does he practice what he preaches? “No absolutely not. I’ve actually always been a very loyal boyfriend. If I knew it was coming to the point where I was going to mess around, I always ended the relationship. Because of this, I’ve actually managed to stay friends with all my exes.”
The music industry can often make or break artists in a blink of an eye. Yet Jay has always remained true to his beliefs. “I have always been who I am and have always stayed true to myself. I’m too firmly grounded and I think that’s the reason why I’m able to make the crazy decisions I do. People think I’m crazy for leaving medicine, for leaving Virgin Records, leaving Cash Money Records but it’s because I just know what I’m worth, I know my value, I know what makes me happy and if I’m not getting all those things, I leave.”
“I never got into any of this for girls, drugs, to be a superstar. It never meant anything to me. What has always mattered to me is credibility, respect, and dignity for my work.”
A few fun facts you didn’t know about Jay: Julia Roberts is his favourite actress, he would pick Etihad above any other airline, if you ever catch Jay at a bar, buy him a Vodka Soda, New York definitely over London and, of course, his favourite restaurant is Nandos!