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A lot can happen over the course of a decade.
However, certain things—thankfully—stay the same. In 2004, Lyfe Jennings captivated countless listeners worldwide with his seminal platinum-selling debut Lyfe 268-192. Since then, the singer and songwriter created four more critically acclaimed and consistently powerful offerings, including 2013's Lucid. He also collaborated with everybody from Alicia Keys and Talib Kweli to Rick Ross and Bun B.
Now, by doing what he does best, he's making his most personal and passionate statement to date in the form of his sixth album Ten Years Later.
"We're already deep into the story," he explains. "This is another chapter. Everybody feels like they have to reinvent themselves. I don't think you can reinvent the truth. It is what it is. I'm not focused on reinvention. I want to go deeper. First, Lucid let everybody know that I was back. This album reaffirms the reasons why people started loving this music in the first place."
In early 2014, Lyfe began recording what would eventually become Ten Years Later. He opted to cut everything at his home studio in order to capture each idea as it arrived, preserving magic in the moment. Producing and writing everything himself, it's an extremely personal affair.
"It's very simple," he goes on. "You'll never get back the way you feel in the moment so you have to put it down as you're experiencing it. That's been so crucial to this entire process."
As a result of this approach, he strips the music down to its essence. "It's soul music," he affirms. "I don't want to classify it as anything else. It's not R&B. It's not pop. It's not alternative. It's soul. That's the thread tying everything together."
Lyfe's own soul drives the track "Always". With its doo wop bounce and lithe swing, the track immediately stands out. His inimitable voice takes center stage, jumping from a vibrant croon to a big falsetto.
"Everybody has that one person," he says. "For whatever reason, good or bad, he or she showed you a lot about yourself and life. Some people say, 'First love', and other people say, 'Last love'. They were loved, and that love will always be a part of you."
Elsewhere on the album, "Look At Em Now" relays a story of growing into success after high school. Then, there's "I Love You", which celebrates natural beauty and espouses an empowering message for women.
"I'm talking directly to the ladies with this one," admits Lyfe. "They try hard with the makeup and clothes, but the song asks, 'Who are you trying to impress? I know you don't look like that when you wake up in the morning.' You're spending so much time trying to sell this dream. However, when you give someone reality, they're liable to like you and respect you more."
In many ways, the title encapsulates his entire mindset. "I haven't varied from the kind of music I do," he explains. "I'm not doing booty shaking music, which I certainly could've done. I'm still doing meaningful music."
However, there is one change after all these years: Lyfe Jennings conveys his message even more clearly. "Ten years later, I feel like I'm more conscious of reality, and I can write about it better," he concludes. "This is a continuation though. I'm in the most positive place I've ever been in. Now, I'm looking at everything like, 'Wow, I'm really going to be able to do this forever'."