R&B songwriter, singer and rapper J-Luv Da Prince—a.k.a. James Jones—believes in the timeless art of lyrical storytelling. With a musical mandate to serve up songs that are uplifting, soul-searching and soothing, he has released nine mixtapes since 2009, cementing his reputation as the “Prince of R&B.” Hailing from the small town of Cuero, Texas, Jones was first tagged with the moniker “J-Luv” at the age of 15 while living in Houston and developing his chops as a rapper. By age 18, he had transitioned to singing in the style of R&B crooner Keith Sweat, prompting his girlfriend at the time to tag him “Da Prince,” which stuck fast, completing his identity as a smooth and sensual player—combining both rapping and singing.
Here we have an exclusive in-depth, one-on-one interview with J-Luv Da Prince.
1. How long have you been in the music game and how did you get started in the first place?
Well, I’ve been making music since I was 14, so that would make it almost 14 years coming this February. I got started while I was going back and forth to Houston, Texas, visiting my cousin Jason Daniels, but we called him Iceman(R.I.P.). In fact, it was on my birthday. He threw a party for me and invited me to a studio, where he had been recording at with some other family. A beat was playing and I was sitting on the couch freestyling. Well, he heard me and told me to jump in the booth and spit something. At first I wasn’t with it, cause I was a little shy at the time. But he managed to bribe me in the booth for a favor. It took a few times, but ones I started feeling my surroundings a little more, I was getting more control of myself. From that day on, it was a wrap. Since then, any mic I could get on, I would. As far as R&B goes, which I do also, I started singing at 18 years old. It was a talent show going on in high school and I wanted to impress a female that I liked. Yeah, I know, typically for a teenager. It wasn’t that I couldn’t sing, I was never serious about it. When I was on the stage though, I was surprised on how my voice sounded. Better than I thought it would lol. So decided to do R&B also. I couldn’t stop rapping so I decided to pursue both and so far, so good.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Since being in the South, I mostly listened to DJ Screw, Lil’ Keke, UGK, etc. Basically, all Houston rappers that were out at the time. I started listening to the radio, and explored more music that was out. I started listening to Wu-Tang Clan, Dr. Dre, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, and so on. It made me switch it up and advance to other levels.
3. Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
I can tell you thing, my playlist is filled with nothing but Drake. That’s my dude. Love his music. Homie gets a lot of hate, but its nothing but respect from this side. I have a lot of my cousin’s songs also. Their also into this music thing. Gotta have some Kendrick Lamar in my ears and some Plies to go along with it. R&B wise, I have a lot of 90’s R&B songs. Jaheim, Marques Houston, Mint Condition, Omarion, and TGT. In some cases, you may catch me listening to some 2 Chainz, Ciara, and J.Cole. As far as collaborations go, I would love to work with Drake, Omarion, TGT, & Ciara mostly.
4. Old school R&B and Soul as done by the fathers Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye or Urban R&B by Usher and R.Kelly, which do you prefer and do you think there is a difference?
Well, my mom brought me up on that “old school” R&B. I was just to young to know really what I was listening to. I was just vibing at the time. As I got older tho, I started really listening to the words and the messages in the songs. I loved listening to Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Teddy P, The Temptations, and so many more. I do like the sound of this “Urban R&B” also. I have all R. Kelly songs, cause dude can sing like no other. My opinion on if its any difference, I really don’t see any. All are great music, great messages, and singers that could really sing. Now if you ask me about some of these new R&B artists that are coming out today, you would get a different answer. My opinion is they just don’t understand the meaning of “real” R&B. It’s just not like it used to be.
5. Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ or skepticism from within the industry, from other artists or maybe even from fans themselves?
Its been many people that have been skeptical about my style and how my lyrics are. I’ve made some really graphic songs through the years. Especially when it comes to my “bedroom songs”. People have actually wrote me and told me that they weren’t feeling the way I was talking or the language I was using. Wouldn’t that mean don’t listen to that song anymore? Anyways, there was a song I did around 2 years ago called, “On My Face”, that got a lot of backlash from non supporters and even my own. They said their opinions and I told them mines. It took a couple months but everything was straight after that. I admit, I do watch my lyrics in a lot of my “bedroom songs” now and the real reason is that I have kids and my two oldest do a lot of repeating of what they hear lol, so its kinda weird when your 3 year old sings the songs that you have made and she’s not getting the write teaching from her own Father. I think its better this way though. I know a lot of people may not want to hear tracks like that, and I love making music for my audience so if im going to do those types of songs, I have to sugar coat a lot and not say what I wanna say at times.
6. Studio work or performing live, which of these do you prefer most and why?
I would have to say performing live. The studio is cool and that’s where I make the hit tracks at, but when I get to go on stage, and perform for my fans, it feels good. I make this music for them, so I love to give it to them face to face. It’s crazy I say that, cause I haven’t been on stage in like 3 and a half years. There were a few problems that came about, that made me have to quit performing for a little while. Nevermind that, all problems are solved so hopefully sometime next year, my plan is to get right back in front of my audience and stay there for as long as I can. Performing means everything to me. Nothing less than a perfect show, is one way I wanna be remembered. And its also a good way for your fans to remember you, as they snap their pics and record their videos lol.
7. Tell us something about the beats and music production on your mix tapes. How do you choose and find music and producers you like.
I like to work with all kinds of different beats and sounds when it comes to my music. I like to explore or adventure, whatever you wanna call it. There’s no limit to what you might hear on my projects. Mostly though, I like to keep it mellow. Don’t like to many instruments in the beats that I use. I feel that is covers up my voice a lot, even when it has good production. I want my fans vibing to the beat also, but getting the message as well. Give me a real nice and mellow smooth beat, and ill do some damage to it. As far as how do I choose and find music producers, its the same with my beats. Im willing to work with anyone, as long as they are serious about their work. I always see a lot of people that makes beats, say that they are just doing this for fun and want to see where it goes. I don’t mess with them. Most of them probably don’t put their all in their beats, so why would I put any work on their beats you feel me. If you’re a beatmaker or producer or you do both, and you’re real about yours, hit me up so we can work. I ain’t hard to find. Google me!!! LOL
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8. On which song do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?
Well, this question is pretty complicated, because I did a EP entitled, “#InMyDrakeZone”, that was centered around me being as “real” as I could and reveal a lot of situations that I had been holding back for many of years. Anybody that have heard the EP, would easily pick the song called, “Say What’s Real”, which I got a lot of weight off my back and delivered many heart felt lines to different people including my mother, future mother in law, sister, my ex-wife, and etc. But if I had to pick a song that I really expressed myself as you’re asking, I would have to say the intro called, “The Presentation”. Reason being, I spoke on circumstances regarding the town that I live in and many other artists in the same place, that I felt couldn’t live up to the things I deliver in my songs. I can switch it up, whether it’s a track on rap, R&B, pop, or any other genre, when they stick to one subject, which is the streets. And the majority of the town is all for that, cause it’s nothing but fakes and imitators, trying to get some shine. Down there, people are not who they portray to be. It’s a lot of copying of actions, people with fake appearances if you know what I mean. Everybody mimics a lot where I stay and I’m just trying to expose that. A lot of people would say that’s wrong where im from, but I don’t care. People would say, “Oh, we down with you”, when its all BS to begin with. So I had to learn this the hard way tho. I used to represent my town to fullest, until I started growing up and realizing the truth. These last couple tapes, I don’t reference them any cause I’m not down with them like that anymore. That’s just how it is. And I know when some people read this, there will be many questions and I know backlash, but I don’t owe them no explanation at all. And that’s just how I feel right now. Will the feeling change, probably not, because the people will never change. And that’s how my home is.
9. Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist?
I’ll be honest with you, as a performer, I really couldn’t tell you. I just try and give the people what they want. I call it “show and tell.” That’s what I do. That’s what makes me unique in a way. I don’t try and be somebody that I’m not. I’m myself and it don’t get any better than being me. My supporters respect me as the person that I am and I salute them for that. I can say that there is no way that I would make it in this business trying to be someone else.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
I would have to say passion. The excitement I have, when hearing just one of my fans say that they can relate to a situation that I speak on, in one of my song, is passionate to me. When people say that I could have done better or I hate that track to me, drives passion also. What i’m getting at is, “all” of this is my passion. I’m speaking on music here. I love what I do and i’ve told many that I will never quit, no matter what happens. I will never change into someone else, just because I have a little money on me. Giving is my passion. I’m not just doing this for me. A lot of people need somebody to just make good music. Now, i’m not saying that all my music is good advice, but i’m saying this, you listen to any one of my tracks and there is a message within. Good or bad, its a story inside. It would be your choice if you follow it and learn. Some are gonna love it and some are gonna hate it. That’s my passion for dealing with all of this. Making people feel some kind of way inside. And I know my music does just that. No doubt about it.
11. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
I’m a tell you first what I hate about being an independent artist. Basically it’s a full time job in my opinion. Everything is on you. Between sending, reading, and responding to emails, designing your own campaigns, maintaining your website, promotion, handling your press kit, writing and recording your own songs (which I have no problem with at all), networking and researching, and etc. All that is not a 9 to 5. That’s overtime plus more hours of putting in work. It’s tiring no doubt. But the upside of it, if you’re very passionate about your career like I am, you wouldn’t mind putting in that hard work every day of the week. Like I was saying on the music making process, everything about it excites me. That’s because I love making music. Some people don’t understand that at all. This is just not a hobby for me, It’s my life. I wouldn’t change anything, past or present. Otherwise, I love being an independent artist, cause its all about “M.E.”. It’s real talk cause I can control my own destiny, which is the best way I can put it. I make my own rules. It’s both introspective and empowering moment because I am the sole controller of what happens. Isn’t it good to feel like your own boss/leader once in a while? Well, you can do it, because you’re independent. Confidence has a lot to do with it. If I can drive for errands or get coffee by myself its empowering like I was saying before. But you have to ask yourself this question, are you comfortable with making decisions for just you? I think its good to take control without others influencing you. Okay, then you have the obvious which is not depending on anybody else. As a child, you rely on your parents, as an adult, it’s about you making your own decisions. Like Sisqo did, go solo from Dru Hill. You don’t have to have anybody taking care of you. If you can get a job, make your money, plus support you, you can be self-reliant. Don’t let yourself be taken care of you, take care of yourself. It’s not a simple path at all, but it’s worth it and you’ll learn.
12. Tell us something about your songwriting process. What usually comes first the lyrics or the beats?
This question has been asked many times to me. Before telling you about my process, ill tell you that the lyrics come first before the beat. It’s hard for me to write, if I hear a beat first. Now about my process, first of all, I like to get personal with anything that I write. When you hear the song, you’re going to know what my mood was and what I was feeling at that exact moment. A lot of times with me, they’re so many ideas in my head, my brain starts to hurt and I have to do something else and comeback to it later. Sometimes, it takes me a week to finish a track, cause I have so many thoughts and I can’t process the right way. Other times, there’s one idea at the tip of my tongue, but I can’t get a feel for it. Can’t figure out how to present it. I try never to leave a song half finished, but it happens sometimes, because I switch zones and think of something else in the process of making that song. I really don’t know how that happens, but it does. Once I really know the scale of a record that im working on, its all over from there. You’re about to get something that you can really vibe and relate to at the same time.
13. How involved are you in any or all of the recording, producing, mastering, and marketing processes of your music. Do you outsource any of these processes?
OK, let’s see if this comes out the way I want it to. I’m going to explain it the way I know how. I really haven’t had much experience in handling a lot of production when it comes to my music. I have a team in Houston, that does a lot for me, but I always ask questions and try to learn what I can, so maybe I can do it in my own studio. Now let it be known, I don’t have the equipment that they have in their studio in mine, so its different when i’m doing it by myself. I do my best to try and master my own songs. Of course, after I do, I send it to them, so they can hear it and make changes if need be. And a lot of times, there are changed needed. But I dont get mad at all. I ask the questions and they give the answers. I have no shame over that at all. Its all about learning to me. I get a lot of help on my marketing. I have my team, plus a lot of associates on the internet that help me with that process. I understand that I can’t do it alone, so I know that I will need any assistance I can get. I appreciate it anybody that I have worked with in the past, now, and who I work with in the future. Its nothing but love. I work with many producers, that make beats, so i’m never there to here the instrumental at all, but i’ve been doing this so long, it doesn’t matter what the beat sounds like, you will get something special from me, to you. I know there will come a time where things would have to change, but for right now, i’m just working with what I have, but I have no complaints.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Well, the advice that I have followed is “be yourself.” Like i’ve said before, I can’t be anybody else. I don’t know how to be anybody else. Another piece of advice that was gave to me is, stay in touch with your fans. They’re the ones that are going to get you where you want to be. Without them, you have nothing. Exposure comes from them and of course other that you work with. But with your supporters listening and telling the next person, and that person telling the next person, you’ll be surprised with the exposure that chain reaction can give your music. What advice I haven’t followed, but know that I should. Now i’m a write this in past tense, cause its something I do now, that I didn’t before. I would have to admit that listening was not a big thing that I wanted to do. Most people in this business comes from a long affair and they have a lot of the knowledge that they need already. I know I couldn’t just read a lot of magazines and know everything that I need to know about this business. I had a lot of questions I had to ask and I was a little bit afraid to say the words, “I don’t know”, when I didn’t know something. That’s how I had to learn. It’s been a lot of producers, managers, artists, and other people that gave were given me good advice, but at times, my pride took over, and I didn’t wanna listen. I knew I had to start taking that advice to the head and making it an everyday thing. What I have learned is, the people who really get ahead in music are the people who never stop learning from those who went before them.
15. At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit the your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
I think my ability to tap into fans feelings with singing and rapping. That’s more supporters right? You have people that love hip hop and you have some that love R&B. I believe the majority of people love listening to both. No matter the situation, you always have someone that needs something to listen to and clear their minds. I can easily do a rap track, where I touch into their point of view about anything concrete that they have on their mind at that point in time. Same thing goes for R&B. I know both men and women love R&B, but i have always thought that situations that are taught in an R&B stance, were for the ladies. I know my men can adjust also, but I know for a fact that the ladies love when a man sees their side of the story and speaks on it. They feel it, shake their head in agreement, and enjoy it. That’s just me though. And that is what’s going to benefit me as an artist, going into the future.
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16. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
To be straight forward with it, I think it could help an artist career, to a certain extent. Social media can help the artist get more popular. You have to start somewhere right? In this day, the internet can get you started. You can have people listen to your music and choose whether they agree with it or not. You can get fans from anywhere on this social sites. I know I use it to my benefit. I also know that I don’t have everybody in the world on my site, so that’s the downfall of the internet. You can’t connect with everybody. Everyone can’t check you out. You only have a limited fan base. That’s where distrubution comes into play. I can’t say enough about the use of distrubution. You can’t get anywhere without in this business. As far as copy and paste artists go, yeah, you have a lot of them out there. If they’re not trying to be like one of the industry artists, they copying other artists that they have heard on YouTube. But that’s them though. If they want to copy someone, then let them do it. The originator will always win the fight no doubt. As of talked about many of times, in this industry, they are limited “real” artists. Nobody is really talking about life issues anymore. I believe the real talent is indie music. You hear a lot of people say “real” R&B is gone. I’ve noticed when I do songs about relationships, i’m talking that R&B back in the 90’s, I get a little play no doubt, but if I switch over and do a club banger, an anthem type, or just something to dance to, that get the most plays. People are so brainwashed by this industry music, that I don’t think they can tell what is good or bad R&B. Let me say it like this, there is no bad R&B, but there are no Mint Condition, Jodeci, Dru Hill, R&B out there. I think you feel me on this. Its hard to get the message around, when is willing to check it out in the first place. To sum it up, there are good and bad points with this social media sites for music artists. Just keep spreading the message. You can’t give up that someone will not hear you one day and pass your music on to more sources that can make a change.
17. How and why did you choose the name J-Luv Da Prince?
Well the story behind my artist name is; I didn’t choose the name. Actually “J-Luv” was my original name first and “Da Prince” was added later. I always share the story with people that wanna know, so ill share here. Back in my teen years, I was what you would call a “ladies man”. There was a female that I was dating at the time, who knew that I wasn’t being loyal to her and we were having an argument one day. She hollered of and said, “you think every girl wants you huh? You ain’t nobody special. Your mindframe is just messed up. Every girl don’t want Jay’s love!” At that point, I just started laughing and you know you can’t laugh in the middle of an argument with a woman. She just walked out then I thought about it and loved the idea. That’s when J-Luv was born. “Da Prince” was added from another female that I was messing with. She used to always call me her “prince”. We were talking one night and she knew about the “J-Luv” already, so she asked if I wouldn’t mind adding “Da Prince” with it. I still show both respect til this day, for coming up with it. My fans love the name. Some tell me just use “J-Luv” and take “Da Prince” off. I still think about it til this day, but I don’t it will happen. I’m into too much LOL.
18. Which song (or songs) in your vast catalog best describes the sound and style you ultimately prefer and why?
To be honest, there are no songs on my playlist, that describes the sound I prefer, because im real picky with the style of music that I make. I prefer a real nice melodic tempo. Not slow, not fast, but in the middle. I always tell producers that I work with, you can always catch me, if you have that one nice R&B beat, that is a story within itself. It needs no lyrics at all, just the beat is telling you what you need to know already. I can deal with the fast tempo, bass in the trunk type, and I have, but its not me at all. I love to embrace and get inside of a beat. I know sounds it crazy, but hey, im a crazy person to begin with. That’s why it takes me longer than most, to cook up something in the studio. Between the beat, my lyrics, and if working with another artist, we all have to be on the same page, if this is gonna work out. Give me an instrumental where the beatmaker played that keyboard on point, throw in a little of that live guitar, and hell, maybe even a saxophone, and prepare to get something that you will never forget.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist and performer, in your quest to achieve your goals and wider spread success?
I think any artist would tell you, is the animosity. It seems like a lot of artists take what the “haters” say about their music took the heart. Its kinda like Drake. He’s a rapper that sings also. People be like, “he ain’t no real rapper, cause he sings also and he’s sensitive.” I see nothing wrong with that at all. Do he let other opinions get to him, I think he does to a certain point. But it don’t get deep like that. I think he does express a lot of it in his songs tho. He do what he does and that is what other artist should know. Don’t listen to the next guy. What they think you should do to change your music. That’s just one person. Their opinion doesn’t matter at all. Now, let’s say that the majority of your fans were saying the same thing, then maybe you should stop, listen to what they have to say, and then make your decision. You can’t be too selfish in this game. Your fans can make or break you. But don’t let one person still your joy. We all know that negative people can put others down and prevent them from reaching their real potential, However, I’m not talking about people who can bring you down when you tell them about a business idea you are about to start working on but I’m talking about people who can make you feel less worthy without you even noticing! People don’t just put others down by their words but they actually drag them down by the wrong expectations they set for them! Many are always there to take your spot. You gotta remember that also. I always learned to pick my fights. But you have to be careful in doing so. Hold up, did I go off topic lol. I think people will see my point though.
20. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
I’ll never sell out. It’s simple as that. I speak my mind at all times, on these industry rappers and how they got to the spot their at. Yeah, hard work pays off, but at some point in their career, they sold out to get a bigger push. Independently, I can release what I want, when I want, say what I want in songs, and the money comes right back to me. The sky is not the limit for me at all. They (industry artists) have limitations to what they can say on record or at that moment in time, their career can be over. For people that have heard my music, no I don’t hold a thing back. If its something my fans want to know, then im a give it to them straight. I try not to sugar coat anything. That wasn’t the way I was raised. Let’s be real, honesty terrifies people, probably more than anything else. It also helps a lot of people. I stay indie, I control my career to the fullest. No one else. Yeah, I understand the big money is industry, but what if I told you my message was deeper than that? Yeah, im out to make money doing this music, but I’m not just focused on it. Being indie, I choose when and where my money goes. Being industry, you can lose your money in a instance and won’t know it. One day its here, the next its gone. Some artists need to put their minds to work and realize its not all about fame. Even if you’re by yourself with no family, you still taking care of one person, yourself. Some people gotta think before they do things.
21. Can you tell us about any new projects or ideas you will be working on in the near future? And do you have any shoutouts?
As of right now, I have an upcoming EP entitled, “Book Of Meanings”. I’m speaking on everything that has to do with my life and im telling other people stories also, literaly. I’m talking about from a death in the family, to addictions, abuse & rape, depression, etc. Its gonna be deep as hell and people will enjoy it no matter what. There’s no release date yet, so until, i’m dropping singles after singles. Keeping my fans with some new music. There’s also a talk about doing a “Greatest Hits” project, but the team is not sure on that yet. They know I keep them updating about everything tho. Shoutout to the Fam Key, Bo, Kelz, Ryan, Liya, Lizzy, & Brandon. They are doing big things for Makai Entertainment. Shoutout Yung Joe, Menace Da Kid, S.N.A.C.S., Naudikah, Da Babygirl, Sha’ oligy, Kidd Hatchet, Mz. Pee, Ladii Fynesse, Young Gage, Griff G, Melody Starr, V-Row, Kharymn Jones, Crystal Caine. If I forgot anybody that I’ve worked with, my bad. You know it’s all respect and nothing but love.
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