As a music artist, he is probably best known for his mega-hit singles, “You Called and Told Me” from the Strictly Business soundtrack and “Love High.” As a music executive he helped launch the career of Mary J. Blige and producing countless other artists such SWV, Bobby Brown, Allure, and Field Mob. Redd has received Grammy, American Music, Soul Train, and Billboard awards for distinguished albums for successful artists such as K-Ci and JoJo, Regina Belle, Salt N Pepa, among others. He has also contributed to motion picture soundtracks such as How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Hurricane, and Eve’s Bayou.
Redd has also ventured into jazz, playing gigs in the U.S. and abroad. Redd doesn’t seem to like to be pigeonholed by genres; he recently released a new party single called “Dance, Dance, Dance (The Weekend).” Also on the horizon are three new house music singles, Royal Love Rekindled, “You’re My Love,” and “New Day.”
But there is more than being an artist in Redd’s portfolio. He’s also an entrepreneur; he’s the owner of an independent recording label, Sol Real Records, an author of a soon-to-be released romance novel, and creator of the shea butter product line Sol Real Butter.
Recently, Redd shared his thoughts on the music industry and his future plans with The New York Trend. Here’s what he had to say.
New York Trend: Your career has been long and successful, but looking back what advice would you give yourself at 25-years-old?
Jeff Redd: When I was 25 years old, I got to experience my first album, “Quiet Storm” and as soon as my first single, “I Found Lovin” was released, things started to take off very quickly. It was so unexpected that I wasn’t always prepared to really negotiate things in my best interest. Therefore, I would tell my younger self to study finance and contractual reading. But to tell you the truth, I personally don’t like looking back only because hindsight is 20/20.
New York Trend: You’ve been on both sides–artist and executive–what are the pluses and minuses of both?
Jeff Redd: One of the pluses of being an artist is that I love creating music and really enjoy having the ability to share it with the world. A minus is that I have to expose myself to others for critique, which is sometimes the hardest thing for an artist to do.
One of the pluses of being an executive was my ability to discover talent and create a body of work for millions of people to love. A minus was working for a company with other executives who didn’t share the same passion that I had for the music and having the artists suffer because of it.
New York Trend: How would you describe the state of the music industry today?
Jeff Redd: The music industry has changed tremendously due to the expansion of the digital age. Labels used to take the time to physically scout, discover and package artists. Now they research social media outlets to discover talent that have already established a strong following. For better or worse, artists have done all the development work themselves. Labels then attach their brands and look like geniuses for creating amazing talent.
New York Trend: In your opinion what are the positives and negatives of being an artist at this time?
Jeff Redd: The positives of being an artist today as opposed to yesterday is that you have many outlets to expose your talents. Artists can use social media to their advantage and create platforms for themselves without barriers. The negatives are that most artists need direction. They can be very talented, but lack the ability to package themselves. It is important for them to create music that best suits them, develop their own, authentic image and really be coached through performances, interviews and other crucial aspects of their career.
New York Trend: What do you feel is missing in R&B today?
Jeff Redd: I like a lot of what I am hearing today in R&B because some of these artists are really doing their homework. They are reaching back to the works of the past and taking bits and pieces from different artists to create their own music. It’s actually a great time for music.
New York Trend: Why did you decide to launch your own label?
Jeff Redd: I used to complain when I was an A&R executive at MCA that the promotional and marketing staff really didn’t understand the importance of a great song. They loved to put music into one genre or a certain category such as R&B, pop, alternative, etc. It bothered me because it limited the music and the artist. I remember when Kci and JoJo were rehearsing for a tour at S.I.R. Studio in Los Angeles, I heard this guy singing in another room. I went to investigate and I inquired whether he or his band had a deal. They said ‘no.’ I then got their manager’s information and he sent me a purple CD with the group’s name, Kara’s Flowers. I took it to the head of the Pop A&R department and he blew me off because in his mind, what does Jeff Redd know about Pop music? Now, please understand I had already discovered Mary J. Blige, had won a Grammy for A&R work on Salt N Pepa’s song Champagne and had the number one song in the country, All My Life recorded by Kci and JoJo. I had a knack for recognizing and developing talent. The label subsequently passed on the lead singer, who happened to be Adam Levine. Let’s just say the rest is history! At that point, I decided that I needed to create my own record label. I never looked at music in black or white, I just loved to create good MUSIC.
New York Trend: What type of artists are you looking for on the label?
Jeff Redd: I’m not currently looking for any artists at the present time because I’m focusing on my brand, Jeff Redd. But when I resume, I will be looking for artists who have a real passion with hustle to match. The ones that are making things happen on their own. That determination shows me how committed they are before I commit.
New York Trend: And you’ve been writing romance novels. How did that come about?
Jeff Redd: I always wanted to write a book about a love story with a twist and the twist would be something that would make you say, “Hmmmm.” After years of jotting things down I decided to complete it and I am extremely excited now that it is done. It’s entitled Love’s Game: Lust, Lies and Betrayal.
New York Trend: How did you get into Shea Butter products?
Jeff Redd: I’ve always enjoyed aromatherapy and as an artist, I knew the importance of moisturizing and having healthy skin. After experimenting with a variety of natural oils, I decided to share my creations with both women and men. Sol Real Butter is a mixture of natural scents and 100% pure African shea butter.
New York Trend: What are some of your projects for 2017?
Jeff Redd: 2017 is already shaping up to be a great year. I am looking forward to the launches of Sol Real Butter and my book, and I am extremely happy to share the new music I have been working on. I have had the pleasure of expanding and growing in music over the years and my recent jazz project and house music releases will be shared in a video series very soon. Also for the past few years, I have been actively investigating a potential role in politics and how I can make a difference in the community. I am grateful to be a conduit of God’s work and to spread love and joy through my creative expression. However In these crucial times, it may be time to use the microphone in a different way, in an effort to bring about lasting change.