Inc. Crooner Lloyd Controls Destiny By Leaking Track, Enlisting Jazze Pha

'I feel like a player. I hate being on the bench,' newcomer insists.

Things are going pretty well for Lloyd lately.

The Inc. crooner recently celebrated his 21st birthday at Atlanta’s Velvet Room with Cee-Lo, Lil Wayne, T.I., Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, label boss Irv Gotti (see “Irv Gotti Maps Out Inc. Comeback With Vanessa Carlton, Lloyd, Ja Rule” ) and new manager Jazze Pha. And then there’s his sophomore project, Street Love, due March 20 on the Inc./ Universal Records, which has spawned Lloyd’s biggest hit to date: “You” featuring Lil Wayne.

According to the singer, he leaked the track himself because he didn’t want to be the only one to hear it. A few friends at Atlanta radio stations played “You,” and the next thing he knew, a release date was set for his album. “[The song] spread to a lot of secondary markets outside Atlanta,” Lloyd recalled. “And from there, I remember everybody kind of calling, wanting to work with me. And Street Love is really about the best of both worlds — hip-hop and R&B — to create a popular sound.”

Another new sound that he’s particularly excited about is his next possible single, “Get It Shawty,” produced by Usher’s younger brother J-Lack. The up-tempo number features stirring strings over a brooding bass line and finds Lloyd fantasizing about getting a lady to spend some quality time with him.

“I remember calling Usher” after overhearing the instrumental for the song in his manager’s studio one day, Lloyd explained. “I had Jazze call Usher, and we begged him for it every day. And I finally got it. I remember they invited me to their house, and I recorded it at Usher’s crib in Atlanta. … It’s hot. Something unlike anything I’ve ever released before.”

Lloyd also said he’s looking to take his music in another direction with his second album. Originally, the singer was looking to part ways with Gotti and the Inc. over creative differences and sign to Jazze Pha’s label. But after reconciling with Gotti, Lloyd instead brought the Atlanta beatsmith on board as his manager and mentor. “I always wanted to work with him,” Lloyd said of Jazze Pha. “He’s like the black Santa Claus. He’s just got joy and happiness for everyone. I remember the first time we worked [together]. The first few records were special.”

In addition to Gotti and Jazze’s production prowess, Street Love will feature collaborations with newcomer Johnta Austin, Big Reese & Jasper (“They’re gonna be like the new Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis,” Lloyd exclaimed) and Bryan-Michael Cox.

Now that things are going better for Lloyd, he said he’s going to make the most of his time in the spotlight with his new album. He has no time to rest after waiting three years in between projects. “For me, I feel like a player,” Lloyd said. “I hate being on the bench, I hate sitting on the sidelines, I hate watching the game from the sidelines.

“I just want to kind of spark some kind of energy in the building,” he said.