Four years out of the spotlight can hurt or help an artist in a very big way. People either forget about the musician, casting them off into the land of musical has-beens, or, in Jaheim’s case, welcome them back with open arms.
The street-smart balladeer recently returned in full force, with his third outing, Ghetto Classics, landing atop the Billboard albums chart. The record pushed 152,000 units in its first week, knocking the Jack Johnson-powered “Curious George” soundtrack down to #2 (see “Third Time’s A Charm For Billboard King Jaheim” ).
“After two platinum albums, it’s an honor to have my third land at #1 in the country,” Jah told MTV News.
Classics is the singer’s follow-up to 2002’s Still Ghetto and his 2001 debut, Ghetto Love. As with his prior discs, Jah recruited his old mentor and friend Kay Gee of Naughty by Nature — who originally signed him to his Divine Mill Records imprint — as well as fresh blood like Scott Storch and Bink.
“[This album] offers a more mature, but still ghetto, side of me,” he revealed. “I decided to call it Ghetto Classics because I’m from the ’hood and I’m still in the ’hood. When I go home, it’s still, ’Jah, we love your sh–. We appreciate this and that. You’re so real.’ It’s not good to come out and be so clean and [act like] something you’re not.”
“We are products of the ghetto … [and] ghetto is beautiful,” he continued. “It’s you and me, our ancestors. That’s not something I’m afraid to put on my banner and carry.”
And he’s not afraid to romance the ladies. For his next single — the follow-up to “Everytime I Think About Her” featuring Jadakiss — Jah is going with “The Chosen One,” a smooth ballad that pays tribute to the woman in his life.
“It’s basically telling her, ’You know, baby, I’m here to rub your feet and get your bath water ready — and drink it when you’re done, ma. I wanna be the special one in your life … and do all the things you never had done for you before,’ ” Jah explained of the track, which he says was inspired by the 1973 crime flick “The Mack.”
“It’s letting your woman know you could have been doing anything out there in the world, but you chose to live your life and sacrifice for her,” he said about the film.
The crooner has yet to shoot a clip for the sultry track but says he wants to reach out to actor Max Julien, who played prisoner-turned-pimp Goldie in “The Mack” and whom he met while on his 2002 tour.
“[Max] was like, ’Yeah, Jah, me and my lady, we love you. We sat here and cried to your songs.’ I was like, word?” Jah recalled of the noteworthy moment. “That touched me that pimp had love for the kid. It keeps me going.”
The Jersey-born artist was also fueled by working with Luther Vandross’ band, who were largely responsible for the “classic” side of the album.
“Ghetto is definitely class. It’s so fly,” Jah said. “And with a Luther blessing, I can’t lose.”