MCP: You’ve been in the industry for a longtime now, so I had to do a little digging. I’d like to know was “Kid Beats” your first job?
Johnta: Yea, that was like my first big job that I landed. I mean I did a couple of commercials before then, but that was like my first big thing that was major.
MCP: And how old were you when you did that?
Johnta: I was twelve years old.
MCP: Ok. And how did television transistion into music?
Johnta: Just always had a love for music. It was like an equal passion. I sung in church and wanted to break into that field. I was kind of doing well on the television and commercial side, but always had a passion for music so…
MCP: Can you remember the first song you ever wrote or produced?
Johnta: The first song I ever wrote? Man…oh gosh…I couldn’t. (laughs) None of them were good. I can tell you that. (laughs). I don’t remember. I really don’t.
MCP: Ok. (laughs) Well you’ve grown up in Atlanta and you basically got the chance to be a part of the music scene there. Looking at it now, what would you say has changed the most?
Johnta: I think we still play a big part in the music scene, but I think Atlanta has gravitated more towards the hip hop scene. As far as the whole dirty south genre, Atlanta was kind of the pioneer. When I was breaking into the scene you had Dallas Austin. You had L.A Reid and Babyface with LaFace and they were like the biggest people we had. Jermaine Dupri…it was really like an R&B city. The industry as a whole was more R&B. Atlanta has kind of moved more hip hop and putting the dirty south on the map. That’s about the only change.
MCP: And you’ve worked with so many artists, including those from the dirty south. Would you say that its hard to choose a favorite?
Johnta: Yea, it’s kind of hard to pick a favorite out of all the artists and producers I’ve worked with because I’ve worked with so many talented people. I could probally name a few people and what’s makes them my favorite in their own little way.
MCP: I see. Well you’re preparing your very first solo joint called “Ocean Drive” and the lead single is called “Little More Love”. When can we expect the album?
Johnta: The album will drop October 25th.
MCP: Nice. Seeing that you’ve wrote so many hits for other artists, I know you’re doing the bulk of the writing on your own project. Did you work with any other writers or producers for your project?
Johnta: Jermaine and I did most of the project and he also did some of the writing with me. Also collaborated with Jazzy Pha and Teddy Bishop as far as the production part.
MCP: Ok. Sounds good. In the past you were signed with RCA and then there was a situation where you were dropped for Tyrese. Did that whole situation make you wanna give up or did you figure that you would start writing and keep your foot in the door?
Johnta: When I started writing that was kind of my way of keeping my foot in the door. I wasn’t really discouraged as far as my situation cause I was so young. I was fourteen years old at the time so I had the resiliency of youth on my side…and I still had aspirations. But yea, writing was initially my way of staying around the music industry.
MCP: Would you say that all that writing equipped you to become a better artist?
Johnta: Oh yea. Definitely. I would say that. When I was signed to RCA I was so young. I was signed at thirteen, I was dropped at fourteen and I wasn’t creative at all from that aspect. Didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t write. Now, being a writer and working with other artists, seeing how they do their thing and being behind the scenes has definitely equipped me to be a better artist and know what I want and what I want to bring to the table.
MCP: So now that you’re more creative and we’re going to be able to look at you as an artist and not just a writer now, what can we expect? I mean, you write some heartfelt material.
Johnta: What you come to expect from me and my work with other artists…still real topics and real situations. JD and I really focused a lot on love and every aspect of love from a happy standpoint. Being in love, getting to know somebody, meeting somebody…all the way down to the sexual aspect. We kind of put ourselves in the mind-frame of what we thought would’ve been on Marvin’s mind with “Let’s Get It On” and “Sexual Healing”. Still real situations…we just put a little romance in. (laughs)
MCP: I look forward to hearing that. I love that type music. Other than your project, I know you’ve been busy writing on other albums due out soon. Who have you worked with so far?
Johnta: JD and I just completed four more songs for Mariah. I'm actually in New York working with a new artist by the name of Chris Brown. I have a song on Mary J’s new album, Toni Braxton’s new album. Working with 3LW, Tyrese and Monica. So I’m still keeping the writing with other artists in tact.
MCP: I’m real excited about that. It’s funny to me because you’ve done work with just about everybody in my cd collection and most of my favorite tracks from their albums you’re responsible for. That’s no lie. I was shocked. Aaliyah’s “I Don’t Wanna”, Fantasia’s “You Got Me Waiting”, Ginuwine’s “Stingy”, Monica’s “That’s My Man”. You know its rare to hear about the people behind the record unless you already have the name…JD, Missy, Dallas or whatnot, so I must give you props on your work.
Johnta: Thank you so much.
MCP: Is there anyone that you have yet to work with that you are dying to get in the studio with?
Johnta: I’d like to work with Stevie Wonder. JD and I are going to be doing some songs with Lionel Richie and I’m a huge Lionel Richie fan. I know he kind of old school (both laugh), but I think he is like one of the greatest writers of all time. And I also want to work with R. Kelly as well. That’s a dream of mine.
MCP: Ok. Good luck with that. We have several unsigned artist who visit the message board and site, what advice would you give those trying to get in the game?
Johnta: I would say develop yourself and make sure you’re as polished as you can be from every aspect of the game. Know what you want creatively, know who you are, your vocal ability. The main thing is never give up and never let go of your dream and everybody is not gonna feel what you do. Everybody is not gonna believe in it, but that doesn’t mean that it can not work. Stick to what you do and continue to get better every day. It’s gonna happen.
MCP: What would you say is your favorite song off your album right now?
Johnta: Oh man. It’s probally a tie between this record Jermaine did called “This Evening” and this other record called “Dope Fiend”. That’s my second single and I’m really excited about that. (laughs)
MCP: What’s that song about?
Johnta: (laughs) Basically comparing a girl to drugs and saying how she is addictive. I gotta have her around me and in my system. If I don’t have my daily fix or hourly fix of her I start to go through withdrawals.
MCP: (laughs) Another one of those real records….
Johnta: (laughs) Yea, you know.
MCP: That’s cool. Now many of us who listen to music are starting to notice how watered down R&B is getting. Lil Mo stated in an interview that real R&B don’t exist anymore because everyone is being trendy and worried about being an overnight success instead of legends. What’s your take on that?
Johnta: I agree with that to a certain extent. I feel that there are not a lot of artists that try to stay true to the roots of R&B. I think that R&B has kind of fallen off a bit cause people are not giving it the same quality. But then you take an artist like John Legend who is a wonderful R&B artist and people who feel it and love it and they follow his movement because it’s quality. He didn’t offer a trend, he offered good music and I still think that if music is good that people appreciate it and support your movement. I know R. Kelly is looked at strongly on the hip hop side as well, but he does good R&B music. Which I think has been a catalyst in sustaining him for so long cause it’s all about the song and what he is saying and he hasn’t deviated too far from giving you good music. So I think if you do good melodies and good songs and beautiful music, I think people will still follow the movement of it. I don’t see it being so hip - hop oriented that if somebody like Maxwell put an album out right now he wouldn’t do well as long as he is doing what we love him for. I think R&B still has a place. I agree with what Mo is saying. I believe there are artists who wanna be trendy, but I think if you follow your heart and do some good music, I think there is still a place for R&B. Hip-hoppers love it too. I play my stuff for hip - hop people and they be like “this is the kind of music…this is the kind of R&B that you know….” I was talking to Jazze a few weeks ago and he was like “for hip-hop people, we have to go back and listen to old R&B cause there is no R&B out right now that is reminiscent of the Al Greens or Marvin Gaye’s or Teddy Pendergrass’. We have to go listen to older R&B artists when we want to listen to R&B because everyone is trying to be us. Everybody is trying to be rappers.”
MCP: I feel you on that. We discuss that type thing on the messageboards all the time. Man.
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