Thirty years later and Marvin Gaye is still the go-to soundtrack to love. Timeless, Jack Red calls him—timeless meaning “having the right energy and the right message.”
Red aspires to be just like Marvin, reimagined as a 26-year-old who grew up as Jabari Rayford in the music-filled streets of Chicago. Southside! Yes, I’m talking Jack Red—the same guy that has collaborated with Chance the Rapper, Sir the Baptist, Vic Mensa, and many more. But along with honing his killer audio engineering skills, this time Red’s got some singing credits to his name that are front and center.
With his upcoming debut project out next spring, he doesn’t plan on becoming your average R&B artist in today’s industry. He isn’t trying to be a playboy or a sex symbol. All he wants to do is make you feel love. Real love. That smooth-talking sound of the Motown. That 90s lovemaking type sound. That’s his energy. His message is commitment.
“Naked Hands” is his latest single off EP Homegrown and is produced by Closed Sessions’ oddCouple. In a literal sense, it describes the moment he proposed to his high school sweetheart, his now wife of one and a half years. “I can’t buy you the world right now, but I want to make you happy for the rest of my life and yours,” he describes the emotion that went into the lyrics, “I feel like that’s the ultimate romance.” As the antithesis of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” this man actually does put a ring on it—adorning a woman’s once naked hands with something special. But metaphorically, it represents finding someone you love and putting all the effort in the world to never let them go. You don’t have to be in a relationship or married to enjoy Red. You just have to believe in love or be willing to open yourself up to it.
Peep “Naked Hands” by Jack Red, exclusively on The Source.
Why the name, “Jack Red?”
I’m a music producer, an engineer, a singer/songwriter. I play a few different instruments as well. So I’m kind of a jack of all trades. So that’s where the “Jack” came from. You know red is a strong color, favorite color—passion, power.
And where does Chicago come into your sound?
Chicago as a whole is kinda this big melting pot of talent. You can find almost anything here and so there’s certain pieces to my sound that are native to Chicago: in certain lingo, certain Gospel elements, certain jazz stylings in terms of my harmony and voicing. And those are things that definitely always have to be in my music—that really soulful element—close to Gospel but not as religious. And having those jazz elements with the quartet style harmony, sometimes I even get up to a 6-bar harmony on some records.
What was it like transitioning from a sound engineer to more of a face of your music as a recording artist?
It’s actually fun because it’s just another piece of the art that I’m being appreciate for and that’s always a great feeling when you put your heart into something that you really love and you share it with the world, and that love is reciprocated. It’s still an adjustment cause I have to remember people are always looking at me now.
Hookup hits and club anthems are popular among contemporary R&B artists, which older generations tend to criticize for lacking in that 90s feel to it. What’s your take on this?
There’s something very nostalgic, very heartfelt, and I would say timeless about that era of music and even the Motown era. My father’s an entertainer who does a lot of Motown music and so I grew up on that style of music as well: the Temps, Four Tops, O’Jays, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Cooke. Having the simplicity of that era mixed with the contemporary style and a little 90s R&B, the passion and things in that music, bringing some newer elements from today’s music to that as well but still staying true to the essence of soul music and R&B is how we arrive at my sound. But I just really appreciate what those eras of music did for R&B. But we have to be progressive.
What is the ideal moment to listen to this song?
I think it’s a love-infused song all around so just anybody looking for love definitely can find it in this record. In a perfect world I would love to see people doing proposals to it, people playing it at the wedding, but just on the radio just hearing that story and creating their own fairytale. This record in particular really gave me UGK “International Players Anthem” type vibes. It’s still really bright and sunny, but then it had those big drums.
What can people expect from the rest of the Homegrown?
It’s a 2-part EP. You’re going to have some heartfelt breakup records—make-up records if you will—you’re going to have some sexy records, you’re going to have some feel-good joints, you know barbecue music as I like to say, cookout music. I think it’s a timeless EP. I think it’s very versatile but relatable, positive, heartfelt above anything, and I tried to jam-pack it with as much love as I could.
What are you looking forward to with the premiere of your EP?
I want a conversation to get started—I want people to be more vocal overall and share their experiences and talk about if marriage is something that’s important to them.
For more Jack Red and to continue his conversation on commitment, check out @lifeofjackred on Twitter.
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