Jai: A Mod For The Hip-Hop Generation

September 2 [12:00 EDT] -- "I am a mod for the hip-hop generation," claims the 23 year-old British singer Jai, a.k.a. Jason Rowe.

Jai's debut album Heaven, hopes to usher in a New Soul Era. "I sort of learned to sing by listening to other singers, old soul crooners and jazz vocalists." His ethereal voice, coupled with the musical backdrops he co-writes with his partner in crime, guitarist Joel Bogen, creates a jazz-pop-soul blend that intrigues and envelopes with its lush, sensuous sounds; illustrated perfectly in Jai's first moody, melodious single, "I Believe." [1.3MB QuickTime]

Jai's musical career began in his small hometown of Yeovil, where he started his first band venture (he describes as "Prince meets Talking Heads") with Rob Ellis and Steve Vaughan, who ended up leaving him to be in fellow Yeovilian PJ Harvey's band.

He told "Billboard Magazine" in a recent interview, "I started songwriting when I was 14, really. I

always wanted to write songs rather than play other people's, but I'm really into standards as well. I'm really a believer in very emotional songs, and my main ambition is to write a song that people can cry to."

On comparisons the British press have made between Jai and George Michael, he told "Billboard," "I didn't listen to (Michael's) records, to be honest with you. A lot of people look at the package and think we're similar. We've both got short hair, we're both white, and can sing in a soulful way, but if you listen to my record it really isn't that close to George Michael. The similarity, I suppose, is that I got brought up on the same sort of music as he did."

And Jai doesn't have to live down Wham!, which is nothing to cry about.