Jacquees' randy ballad "B.E.D." is charging up the charts – and he has an idea why.
"The harmonies: that's what it's about," the 23-year-old R&B singer born Rodriquez Broadnax tells Rolling Stone. "Like some Jodeci, Boyz II Men shit, the ghetto harmony – it's like gospel, you still have the anoint-ance on it and the rejoiceful-ness, but we make it street."
Jacquees is the latest signee to Cash Money Records, the label that helped turn Drake and Nicki Minaj into stars. He is a rookie with promise – "B.E.D." is the first notable radio hit from a new Cash Money artist since Rich Gang's "Lifestyle" in 2014 – and he is eager to help the team. "I ain't went Platinum yet, 'cause I ain't had the opportunity," he says. "4275's gonna be my opportunity."
4275 is his soon-to-be-released debut album, which takes its name from the address of the house where Jacquees grew up in Decatur, Georgia – he also has "4275" tattooed on his hands, along with the inscription, "peace, love, money, violence." He was raised near a number of rappers who have taken over the airwaves in recent years, including Migos leader Quavo and Rich Homie Quan; both of whom he met at a young age. Thanks to Jacquees' precocious talent, there was never much doubt that he would also go into music.
"Watching him from a kid to now, his voice has always been a standout," says rapper Dej Loaf, who first encountered a young Jacquees through Youtube.
"I know that at 15, he could out-sing me," adds Lloyd, the R&B stalwart from the 2000s who also carved a path from Decatur to the airwaves. "This lil' dude could burn me in a straight vocal session – how he's singing, the feeling behind it, it's unique."
After Jacquees' self-released 19 EP cracked the Billboard charts in 2014, Rich Homie Quan's father put the singer in touch with Birdman, and the Cash Money head locked him into a deal.
In person, Jacquees talks a mile a minute, punctuating enthusiastic statements by hitting the table twice in succession. He seems gung-ho about everything, especially his record label. "I always told myself if I got a deal, I would either sign to Cash Money or So So Def," he declares. In a breathless aside, he explains, "I always say So So just 'cause I'm from Atlanta. … I had a Cash Money necklace that I bought from the gas station – the same one they had, mine was just fake. Same bandana!"
Despite his major-label backing, Jacquees has so far avoided the usual big-name producers who dominate credit lists on most hip-hop and R&B albums, instead finding his own way with longtime collaborators Nash B. and Fortebowie. (He also claims to have a project in the works with OVO singer PartyNextDoor.) On three recent mixtapes – Mood, Since You Been Playin' and Fuck a Friend Zone with Dej Loaf – the keyboard-heavy instrumentals simmer and sway; in contrast, the singer darts and lilts, as excitable as the beats are even-keeled.
Jacquees' sweet spot is radio R&B from 15 years ago. Dej Loaf describes Fuck a Friend Zone as a chance to revive the massive male-female R&B/hip-hop collaborations of the early 2000s. "I've always admired bringing powers together, from Ja Rule and Ashanti to Jay-Z and Beyoncé," she explains. "I want to bring that back."
Jacquees also makes his allegiance plain on "B.E.D.," which cribs its hook – "I know you want to be/In my B-E-D/Grinding slowly" – from the bridge of Avant's 2003 hit "Read Your Mind."
"It's an honor when youngsters hear your music and hear something special in it," Avant says. "I'm glad he took the bridge and made it mean something now. He has a beautiful voice."
"B.E.D." has enjoyed its own slow grind of sorts, infiltrating radio playlists 18 months after its initial release. Jacquees heard it on the airwaves for the first time in Miami. "I rented a Lamborghini – this was right before I bought mine – and it didn't have an aux cord," he recalls. "I was in South Beach, I was looking for something to play, flicking through the stations, and then I was like, 'Damn, this is my song!' I turned it up, telling everybody, 'This is my song!'"
"I always believed in the record," he adds. "I knew if we put this record out we could be here. And we here right now."