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 "What I really hate is that people didn't get to know who Tookie Williams was." ...



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 "I would come up with ideas and they'd be like, 'Foxx, that's '91. You're not wearing linen and flat shoes, with streaks in your hair.' " ...


Hear about Jamie and Kanye as Batman and Robin -- and Jamie's successful plot to score a record deal -- on Overdrive.




Jamie Foxx Has 'Too Many Drinks,' Samples Charles On New LP



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Indeed, if he hadn't hooked up with Kanye West and Twista to record "Slow Jamz" in 2003, Foxx says he never would have been able to make another album.

Twista & Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx
"Slow Jamz"
The College Dropout
(Def Jam)
"It wouldn't have happened," Foxx said. "Not at all, not even close. Because you don't have an entry way to it. You're doing your thing with the television and movies, why get socked in the chin? Especially when you try to do it by yourself without that big [record] company, without those people."

"When Jamie sang on the Kanye records, I felt that was him making his official statement," Jermaine Dupri says. "When he came out, he was real."

"You look at it now: Batman and Robin, Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, the new way to do a hip-hop record," Foxx says. "You look at Kanye's records and they are fabulous, but when me and him go together, they were #1 records. It was a perfect time to parlay that [into a solo career for Foxx]. J Records and Clive Davis were smart enough to realize that now is the time to do the music and not worry about dancing and staying uptempo and being Usher. Just do a Jamie Foxx album and you have that as an entry way, as a credible way of doing music. You look at actors or actresses that try to come into the music business and do music, and usually it's corny."

Clive Davis thought moonlighting actors were corny as well — until Foxx and Kanye double-teamed the legendary impresario and talked him into giving Foxx an on-the-spot audition. Any good actor knows how to pick his moment, and Jamie's instincts did not fail him.

"I had been to the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party the year before, and it was every star, every head of every company," Foxx remembers. "I said, 'Yo Kanye, this is what we need to hit. We hit this, get those people excited and it's a done deal.'

"So I went to Clive Davis [weeks before the party] and said, 'I just finished my movie with Tom Cruise ["Collateral"]. 'He said, 'I really don't understand how movies have anything to do with records. Trust me, there's a lot of actors who would love to do this music, but they can't.' "

Jamie Foxx at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party
Davis eventually caved and allowed Foxx the chance to sing and play the piano for him. The song Foxx sang, a number he'd written himself called "Heaven," actually ended up on Unpredictable. Davis was so impressed that he had Foxx sing at his party — and the rest is history.

"Since I knew the audience from the year before, I knew exactly what to do in order to get them on my side and make them hear what I was doing," Foxx says. "I had performed for a lot of people in the audience before — Puff was in the audience, Jermaine Dupri, Naomi Campbell. So I tailor-made the beginning of my show for that night." The reaction was so positive that talks for Foxx to come to J Records began soon after the party.

Then it was time to learn from past missteps. The main thing that hampered Peep This was that people — including, at least partially, Foxx himself — did not take him seriously. For his new album, Foxx collaborated with a slew of A-list songwriters and producers like Timbaland, Sean Garrett, Mr. Collipark and Mike City.

"I would come up with ideas and they'd be like, 'Foxx, that's '91. You're not wearing linen and flat shoes, with streaks in your hair,' " Jamie recalls. "I said, 'Can we salvage any ideas?' They said, 'We can take those ideas but we wanna keep you young and where people — the so-called playas and hustlas — don't feel that they're corny by buying this.' "

Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, and Ludacris perform at his New Years Eve party
"Jamie is just him," says songwriter/producer Sean Garrett (Destiny's Child, Chris Brown, Teairra Marí, Keyshia Cole), who worked on "Warm Bed" and Foxx's second single, "DJ Play a Love Song." "He's gonna give you him and a little bit of that old school, but we wanted to bring him up to date and let him know what we do. It was surprising, to be honest with you, but he was a humble dude. That's what's gonna make Jamie Foxx always be a superstar: He keeps it real. He ain't frontin', he's cool. It ain't no ego with him. He's a great dude."

Foxx agreed to keep the music youthful but not too young, and the album's guest stars — Kanye, Ludacris, Twista, Game, Snoop Dogg, Common and Mary J. Blige — keep the vibe at street-level without pandering.

"I'm not gonna out-dance Chris Brown," he smiles, "but I got something else. We had to make sure we had joints I could really perform. I ain't no dancer, n---a. I'm not gonna Usher you."

"Nonstop jokes," Garrett recalls about working with the "funniest person" he's ever met. "Jamie's cracking jokes 24/7. That's what makes the time go by so quick. Before you know it, we been in the studio like eight hours 'cause we done laughed so much for seven of them. He even makes fun of the songs sometimes. When he's in the booth recording, sometimes he'll just fly off into some other sh-- and snap into Ray Charles [imitation] mode.

"He's a funny dude, but it's incredible working with him."

Even naysayers must admit that Unpredictable is a pleasant surprise. Foxx is sexy, playful and classy; his midtempo grooves are strong enough to make it in the clubs, and the ballads are must-haves to play for your lady.

Jamie Foxx and Mary J. Blige
Unpredictable and Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough have put R&B in a position where few others than R. Kelly and Usher have been able to place it the past few years: on top. Jamie sold over 600,000 copies the first week of his December release, and his and Blige's albums have been either #1 or #2 on the Billboard albums charts for the past month. His hour-long special on NBC next week, "Jamie Foxx: Unpredictable," will probably make his star rise even higher.

"I always thought dude was gonna sell that many records," Dupri says. "Once he won that Oscar, he got to a place where more people know about you than anybody. I remember hearing Unpredictable all through Atlanta before I even knew it was Jamie's record. I would be like, 'Who is this?' I thought Ludacris had a new R&B artist.

"He's going to sell at least 3 million, 4 million records."


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Photo: J Records

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