The similarities between Lady May and Rob Jackson are as numerous as the routes they took to crack the music industry. Chiefly among them are that both studied the game for years before hooking up with super-producers and getting signed to the same label, Arista. Both are dropping albums later this summer, and both wanted to crack stereotypes while saying hello to the world on their duet, Jackson's "Boom, Boom, Boom."
"We were both on Arista," Jackson said of how the first single off his August 20 debut, The Rob Report, came together. "Arista was looking for a way to promote us together as two new artists."
"It was a hard roll," May explained about the song. "I was told like this: 'You come into the game, you better have that clique that's out and established. You better have that n----- that's out there introducing you because you're a female.' So here we've got Rob Jackson that nobody knows from Adam. He's got me; no one knows me from Adam. And we're putting it out. Usually that Rob Jackson guy would have been like Prodigy or somebody."
May might be on to something with this whole collaborate-with-your-labelmate thing. "Boom, Boom, Boom" is getting strong buzz in the clubs and on the airwaves, and the Long Island native said she's going to be keeping up the anticipation for her first album, May Day, with its first single, "Round Up." It features Blu Cantrell.
" 'Round Up' is a no-brainer," May said. "It's talking about girls rounding up the money, how honeys should get down. It's not honeys getting down to rob a dude or tricking a guy in a club. It's like, 'We got it, we good, we don't need your money or your ride. Everybody round up in the club and let's have a good time. This is how I'm having fun with my girls tonight.' It ain't about jocking your cash. You're jocking my cash."
In the video, which was shot by Little X, May and Blu are getting jocked by the police.
"We did the 'Thelma & Louise' thing," she said of the clip. "Helicopters, cars going off cliffs, running into cars, great master performance shots. It was very exciting, fun and pretty. It was in the desert so it was very hot."
They also have joined forces for a track on Cantrell's upcoming album (Snoop Dogg is another artist who has called May to get on a song).
"Blu's great," said May, who grew up listening to such artists as Duran Duran, Elton John and Billy Joel. "Me and her are the same sign, Pisces, so we get along. She's just as fun and just as real. Very talented."
You can also look for P. Diddy and Memphis Bleek on Lady May's LP when it hits July 16.
Lady May, who had to change her name from May West because the moniker was already being trademarked, got indoctrinated into the house that Clive Davis built (and L.A. Reid has taken over) through producer Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie (Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Mase, P. Diddy). He met her over three years ago and signed her to his Crazy Cat imprint.
"I was very deep when I came to D-Dot, like 'Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,' " said May, who used to be a backup dancer for such acts as LL Cool J and Jodeci before entering the rap game. "He helped me make it entertaining. He said, 'Make it ABC for people. Make them understand you.' "
Jackson too had to make people understand him. The 24-year-old said that because he was from Kentucky, record companies were a little skeptical about signing him because he didn't fit the preconceived notion of what they felt was the local vibe.
So he bided his time and made demos while playing football for Miami University of Ohio. One caught the ear of a classmate, who happened to have an in with former Naughty by Nature member Kay Gee. The two hooked up last September and began working.
"My album is full of party cuts, but it's full of some stuff I feel the people need to hear," Jackson said. "I'm not using it as an opportunity to tell you what I got or don't got, it's not about that for me. I don't knock that, but I feel I got a platform, I got a deal. I got the attention of America and as a whole, we gotta say a little bit more than that. Even if you listen to 'Boom, Boom, Boom,' there's stuff on there you can use."
Besides Kay Gee, such producers as Megahertz and Kanye West, who also produced on Lady May's album, contributed to his project, as did Bun B, one-half of southern line-throwers UGK. Jackson is also staying busy mixing with other Arista artists: He's going to appear on the new album by Boyz II Men and he recently completed a remix with Pink.