Musiq Soulchild Urges You To Juslisen

Grammy-nominated crooner funnels post-debut experiences into second LP.

Jo Jo Brim sometimes feels like a social worker. As the senior director of A&R at Def Soul/ Def Jam, he helps artists such as LL Cool J, Kelly Price, Case and the newly reformed Dru Hill work through their personal and professional dilemmas. While overseeing Musiq Soulchild's Juslisen, due May 7, Brim acted as a psychiatrist — the Philadelphia crooner has gone "Half Crazy."

"[Musiq] was talking to this girl and they ended up having sex, and now everything is kind of different," Brim said of the story behind the singer's new single, "Half Crazy." "He's wondering, 'Is it even worth me being bothered?' He really wants to go back to being friends. He would have never crossed the line if he knew she was gonna bug out. He's saying, 'My mind is going half crazy, because I can't leave you alone.' He's almost saying, 'I wish I never ... ' "

Releasing a follow-up less than two years after his debut, Aijuswanaseing, was a must for Musiq, Brim said.

"He's had so many experiences since the first album," he explained. "This album had to come now. It's really just about relationships. But it's kind of like he's saying things in a way that has never been said before. It's not just your run-of-the-mill 'I'm sorry, I love you.' The simplicity of it is [how] it's being said differently. It's not such a broad stroke. His songs are very specific. Very lyrical."

Musiq also flexes his wordsmith skills on "Caught Up," a sequel to Aijuswanaseing's "Seventeen." On the earlier track, Musiq sang of being infatuated with an underage girl. In "Caught Up," however, "She's two years older and wiser and a whole lot finer," Brim said. "He's saying, 'I'm kind of caught up now. I had to leave you alone last album, but now I've gotta holla at you.' "

Musiq Soulchild will compete against Maxwell, Brian McKnight, Usher and labelmate Case for a Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Grammy Award when the ceremony is held on February 27. Musiq was nominated for his song "Love" (see "U2, India.Arie Lead Grammy Pack").