RATED NEXT: Joe Ryan Talks Being Homeless, Finding Success & Debut Album

joe ryan horizontal

How many miles would you travel to chase your dream? Hailing from Flint, Mich., Joe Ryan III began his musical journey while growing up in church. It was there where Ryan developed his instrumental skills in drums, piano and the organ. He realized he could produce after growing tired of downloading beats off the internet and tired of depending on other people for beats.

Although Ryan’s early beginnings in music were in church, he didn’t start off singing. He began as a rapper who would sing on occasion. “I would sometimes sing on my hooks,” says Ryan. When others discovered Ryan’s singing ability and encouraged him to do it full-time, he disregarded it at first and only thought of himself as a rapper. “I was just scared of it,” reveals Ryan. “I had rapped so long and I was used to performing as a rapper– freestyling, battling and all of that stuff.”

In 2010, Ryan found the door to opportunity via a Twitter post from hip-hop veteran MC Lyte. Ryan says MC Lyte sent a tweet saying she was looking for new producers for DuBose Entertainment. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Ryan submitted his work to MC Lyte. MC Lyte contacted Ryan the following day expressing her interest in working with him. This moment was Ryan’s first step to really getting his foot in the music industry door. His first project was composing cues for Trey Songz’ reality show “Trey Songz: My Moment,” which aired on BET.  Soon after, Ryan found himself flying out to Los Angeles to score cues for an  entire season of BET’s “Toya: A Family Affair.”

While in L.A., MC Lyte — who served as Ryan’s manager at the time — introduced him to Rex Rideout, vice president of A&R at JOE RYAN HIRESMotown Records. This would be a career-changing relationship in which Ryan would soon benefit. After scoring cues for two reality shows, Ryan flew back home to Flint for some time. Determined to pursue his dreams full-time, Ryan had to make one of the biggest decisions of his life. “One morning I woke up and I told my wife, ‘We need to sell everything we got. You go stay with your parents. Take the kids.  God is moving on my heart. I feel this. I got to go to L.A. and make this happen,’” says Ryan, who is a husband and a father of five. Using his connection with Rex Rideout to his advantage, Ryan informed him that he was moving to L.A.

Leaving his family behind like a soldier headed off to fight for his country, Ryan took all he had and drove 1,879 miles to follow his dream. Although Ryan had some impressive placements on reality television, he was homeless for nine months after relocating to L.A.  “I was living in my car,” says Ryan. “I would go to all of the different 24-hour fitness centers and get the seven day passes and I would go in there to take a shower and act like I’m about to work out.”

Even though Ryan wasn’t physically there for his family in Wisconsin, he counted on technology as a supplement. “I would be on FaceTime with my wife and kids while in my car,” says Ryan. “I saw my daughter for the first time getting off the school bus on FaceTime. I even attended parent-teacher conferences on FaceTime.” It’s hard to imagine how difficult it was for Ryan to be away from his wife and children. “Emotionally, that’s been the toughest part — knowing that I’m not physically there with them. They’ll be out here in June, after they get of school, so they can see why I had to carry out the results so they got to see why it happened that way.”

official 1879 album coverRyan’s trials and tribulations of pursuing his dreams is the ingredient to his debut album, “I 8 7 9,” which is available now. The title of the album was inspired by the number of miles he traveled from Wisconsin to Los Angeles to pursue his music career. He also insists “1 8 7 9” could be applicable for anyone chasing their dream. “We all have a distance to travel whether it’s physically, spiritually, emotionally, whatever — we all have a certain amount of distance to get where our purpose is, so I want ‘1 8 7 9’ to be the representation of that grind,” says Ryan.

“Ride or Die,” the lead single off his album, features a guest verse from rapper/actress Lil’ Mama. “It honestly blew me away,” Ryan says about Lil Mama’s verse on the track. “I love what she did on it. She got into the record and made her part a piece of what I was saying and made it feel like some chemistry was done from start to finish and not like she just came in on the tail end and threw a verse on there.” Ryan says he expects there to be a visual for “Ride or Die” in the near future. However, right now he’s focusing on a video treatment for his next single “Woman,” which is an encouraging track dedicated to females. “I want to empower women and show them they don’t always have to show their body,” states Ryan.

If Ryan had to pick the most personal song on his album, it would be “Boomerang Love.” “Being on this grind and being away, distance always causes friction in some type of way,” says Ryan. “You start to feel certain emotions, you get tired and you get tested. There’s so many things you go through with distance that you can’t ignore. Me and my wife went through this really rough patch where we were starting to clash. It started to get really rocky and we went through this phase where it started to fall apart. Once we figured it out and reminded ourselves that we started this together and our relationship was more important than music, then it started to come back together.”

Besides promoting his new album, Ryan has been involved with other projects. He contributed to Ledisi’s new album “The Truth” where he had three placements. He co-produced “Missy Doubt” with Rex Rideout, co-wrote and produced “Lose Control” and produced “Mine.” He also co-wrote and produced rising R&B singer Shaliek’s new single “Ain’t Supposed To Cry.” If that’s not enough, Ryan produced Kem’s new record with a big-time rapper, which will appear on the soul crooner’s forthcoming album.

Additionally, he worked on Leela James’ fifth studio album.”Her new album is already done,” Ryan says. “When you hear her new album, it surpasses anything that she’s ever done.” Ryan reveals he recorded a duet with James called “Save Me,” which he produced and co-wrote. “That’ll be my first appearance as an artist on a major project,” says Ryan. He also produced a song called “So Good” and co-produced a piano ballad titled “Fall For You” with Rex Rideout. “She’s definitely coming with heat,” Ryan says.

If Joe Ryan’s story isn’t inspiring enough then what is? Although he’s still early into his music career, he has accomplished a lot compared to some of his new R&B counterparts. A lesson learned from Ryan’s story is to never give up on your dreams and follow your heart. The process of achieving success isn’t always easy. There may be times when things don’t go as you hoped, but the key is to never lose focus on your goals. They are the stepping stones to your overall success. “I’m the same kid from Flint, Mich. that had no connects and no contacts,” says Ryan. “You have to really believe in it 100 percent with all your heart. You have to be at 100 percent and never doubt yourself or doubt God.”

Follow Joe Ryan on Twitter @JoeRyanIII and get his debut album “1 8 7 9 “ on iTunes.

Keithan is the founder/editor-in-chief of Rated R&B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exclusive: Ro James Talks Sophomore Album

When it comes to R&B artists pushing the envelope, Ro James is at the top of the list. From his three-part EP Coke, Jack & Cadillacs to his debut album Eldorado, James shows his commitment to the traditional R&B sound while adding his own unique touch. His debut single “Permission” was one of the biggest R&B songs in 2016, reaching number one on Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs chart. Meanwhile, Eldorado has racked up over 263 million streams on Spotify alone.

James’ popularity has afforded him major opportunities that aren’t always obtained by new artists.  From joining legendary acts like Maxwell and Mary J. Blige on tour to headlining his own XIX Tour, James has been consistently booked and busy since his Eldorado era

“I grew up listening to the legends — respecting their work, emulating their voices and just learning their writing techniques,” James tells Rated R&B. “You don’t realize while you’re in it but then you sit back you’re like, ‘I just did a show with Mary J. Blige. I just did a show with Maxwell.’ It’s an honor and it also lets me know I’m on the right path.”

With a successful album under his belt, James is gearing up for his sophomore album that is expected to drop this summer. Before he drops the project, he plans to release the second installment of his two-part EP, Smoke & Mirrors.

Rated R&B caught up with James at his tour stop in Washington, D.C. In our interview, James dishes on his Smoke & Mirrors EP, his sophomore album, collaborating with Salaam Remi and his love for cars.

Check out the interview below.

Tell us about your Notorious B.I.G.-assisted song “Lost My Mind” from your Smoke EP.

That song was produced by Salaam Remi. I’ve known Salaam for a while and this is our first time actually getting into work. That song came right out of us getting in the studio — it was the first day, within the first hour. He was asking me what I was going through in my life. I had just got come off a breakup. It was either I really go hard with my music or try to appease my girl who was complaining that I didn’t have the time or wasn’t giving her enough attention — women need that too and my career needs that too. So it’s like in a sense, you have to decide and it kind of makes you a little crazy because you don’t want to lose either if it’s real.

If it’s your dream that you’ve worked hard to get to a certain place, nobody should be able to stop that. Anybody that’s joining energies with you should be able to say, “Let’s get this together.” So, “Lost My Mind” is about the idea of losing your mind and choosing which way to go. The Biggie sample, man it’s kinda crazy. I’m signed to ByStorm/RCA Records. Mark Pitts is my OG. It’s an honor to be under them too because I’m from New York. So, growing up, 90s hip-hop was NEW YORK and Mark Pitts was a part of that. When I was with Salaam, I was literally just mumbling and rapping the feeling because I knew the feeling I wanted to have in the hook and he was like, “Yo I have an idea” and he put the Biggie verse on there.

What can you tell us about your Mirrors EP and how does that compare to Smoke?

I had just come up out of a relationship, came off tour, did my own tour…and really tried to find the time to have a peaceful moment so I could gather all of the things I’ve been through and being able to talk about it. It’s hard. I was just in a place where it was kind of hazy. I was just creating music with people — Ryan Toby, Verse Simmonds —  just a lot of different people. When you see fire, you see smoke and when you see smoke you know there’s a fire. It’s like I got all this music that I’ve been holding and just growing with. I wanted to put something out eventually. I’m not the type of person who just puts music out. I want people to appreciate it and I feel like we’re in a time where we’re just oversaturating music. With Smoke, I’m in a haze but at the same time, I’m out that shit. I’ve been creating some fire shit. I decided to call it Smoke & Mirrors because in life everything is fucking smoke and mirrors. The Mirrors part is about reflection for me. In a time of, through the smoke, through the fire, through the breakups, through being on the road — all of that shit — it’s something that you’re moving so fast and you don’t have time to really breathe and appreciate it, take a moment to see how far you’ve come.

You seem to incorporate cars into your music, somehow. You have an EP called Cadillac, your debut album is titled Eldorado and your Smoke EP has a truck in the artwork. Is this all on purpose or by coincidence? 

Man, first of all, I love cars [laughs]. Me and my dad have that thing in common. I kind of tie that into all of my work. Everything I do is inspired by family and certain things — and myself. My father loves cars and my mother is really into fashion, so I got both.

Photo credit: Cheril Sanchez

How did you approach your second album? What was the process like compared to your first album?

I won’t say harder but it was different because Coke, Jack and Cadillacs was all me. I had nobody in my ear, concept-wise, saying “you should do this” or “you should put this here.” Eldorado was my first time going to the label saying “I don’t want to do this, this is who I am” and accepting their advice too, so we can create something timeless. My next album is the same process — growing with people who now are a part of your trajectory, your growth and who you are…I had a concept from the jump but the thing is finding the sound that matches the concept. It was definitely harder but I enjoyed the process and everybody …

Do you have a title set for your sophomore project?

I’ve been going back and forth between two titles but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be Ro Mantic MP3.

Are there any features on the album?

I got some people I’m working with but I wanted it to come out with no features because I really wanted people to vibe to me, my sound and my feeling. I’m a rebel.

Follow Ro James on Instagram at @RoJamesXIX. Stream his Smoke EP below.

Exclusive: BJ The Chicago Kid Details ‘The Opening Ceremony’ and Teases New Album

It’s hard to believe BJ The Chicago Kid released his major label debut album, In My Mind, just two years ago. Looking back, the Motown Records artist had an impressive debut era. He went on a headlining world tour, earned three Grammy nominations — including “Best R&B Performance,” “Best Traditional R&B Performance,” and “Best R&B Album” — and racked up over 75 million streams on Spotify alone.

In January, he released a vulnerable track called “I’m Sorry” as a treat to his fans. “It’s a song that’s pathetically R&B,” BJ explains to Rated R&B. “I feel like it’s R&B at its most essential feeling,” he continues. “R&B is made to say the things that you can’t or don’t have the balls to say. It’s like you can’t figure out the words to say but somehow this writer and this artist makes this song say exactly how you feel. That’s a part of my job as an R&B singer.”

BJ most certainly doesn’t have an issue with tapping into his feelings. Earlier this month, he dropped three new songs collectively titled as The Opening Ceremony. The lyrically-rich project consists of “Going Once, Going Twice,” “Nothing into Something” and “Rather Be With You.” The songs are just a taste of what fans can expect on his next album that is slated to release later this year.

While fans get acclimated with his three new tracks, the R&B champion teamed with his colleague Ro James for their co-headlining The R&B Tour. Rated R&B caught up with BJ at his tour stop in Washington, D.C. In our interview, he dishes on The Opening Ceremony, his upcoming album, his fight for R&B and more.

If you could add one more artist to The R&B Tour, who would it be?

It would definitely be Luke James. That’s our brother. He’s going to pop up at one of these shows, I’m not going to say which one, but he’s going to pop out and have some fun with us.

What inspired the songs on The Opening Ceremony?

On “Going Once, Going Twice,” I was really eliminating some things in my life that I didn’t really need. I wasn’t necessarily auctioning things off but I thought it was a cool way of having a song in that type of phrasing…describing how auctioneers get rid of things.

“Nothing Into Something” is a song that says you were here with me at the start and right now having what we have is a beautiful thing. It’s about seeing the growth and evolution of our love.

“Rather Be With You” simply describes the feeling with her is like no other. It’s the one place you’d rather be versus anywhere.

Are these three songs tied to your upcoming album in any way?

Absolutely. This is not an EP. To let the secret out the bag, a lot of people put EPs out to see what songs stick with the people. These three songs are on my album.

What can you tell us about the album?

The album is incredible. I’ve grown. I’ve evolved. Life has evolved for me. I’ve grown and seen the world with my label Motown Records. It’s been an incredible asset to add to the music. I just can’t wait to put it out the right way.

Is there a title?

I can’t say yet.

Who are some producers you worked with?

Cool and Dre, Danja, Jarius Mozee, Tubb Young and Karriem Riggins.

Photo credit: Jack Beaudoin

The title of Opening Ceremony and its artwork seem to be inspired by the Olympics. Does the album play on that theme?

Everything I do is huge and worldwide. My first tour was a world tour. So, everything I do begins with the world — not just my community, not just my neighborhood, not just to the people I’ve met but it’s to the world.

You recently said you’re “fighting for R&B, not trying to change it, just push it.” What elements of R&B are you trying to preserve for the masses?

I’m trying to preserve very essence. Our forefathers and our foremothers have laid down such an awesome pedigree of what we should follow. I think it’s up to us to take the responsibility to evolve it, be ourselves and really take it to another level — be creative. Keep the people involved…slow song, fast song, it doesn’t matter. It’s how life has evolved away from me and has given us other opportunities and lanes to help it grow and express ourselves so we should use that.

Speaking of evolving, how would you say you’ve evolved since In My Mind?

Life evolving, my family evolving, my music evolving, my producers evolving…working with producers I’ve never worked with before that I’ve always idolized.

Stream The Opening Ceremony below.

Justin Love Talks New Project ‘When Love Returns’ and Working with H.E.R.

Justin Love’s passion for singing dates back to the age four. “I got started because my mom is a vocalist,” he reveals to Rated R&B. “She’s nobody big but she just sang around the house. My whole family always knew to never pick up on their birthday because she would leave a voicemail singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ Growing up, watching her do that, made me want to do the same thing.”

Love’s “Happy Birthday” performances would eventually evolve into him becoming a singer, songwriter and producer. The New Jersey native’s work has been praised by Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri and others. He recently co-wrote H.E.R.’s hit single “Focus,” which has over 25 million streams on Spotify.

The 22-year-old now plans to ‘focus’ more on his own music this year with his new EP, When Love Returns. In our interview with Love, he dishes on working with H.E.R. his new single “Models” and forthcoming project.

You co-wrote “Focus” with H.E.R. How did that come about and what was your experience working with her?

She had came to one of my shows earlier in my career and her management actually stopped me when I was walking in the city one day and told me that she was upstairs in the studio. He was like, “Yo. Come check her out. I think you guys will vibe well together.” I’m a spontaneous person so I took my spontaneous ass right upstairs. We caught a vibe real quick. We set up another studio session and we wrote like two or three songs that day. It was just dope. The vibe with her is just very quick and very powerful. We knew that anything we wrote down and put out was going to be something.

You just dropped two songs — “The Weekend” and “Models.” What inspired those records?

“The Weekend” — I hit a point in my life where I was just dealing with women that would take care of me. That song is inspired by that stage of my life where I had a suga mama or two just taking care of whatever I needed.

“Models” — We were on set shooting a video for “Stripper Girl” in LA. Me and my boy Nate were looking at these models. We were like, “Damn. They look good as hell.” He was like, “Pretty soon we’re only going to be fucking with model bitches and you need to make a song about that.”

Tell us about your project When Love Returns. What stories are you trying to tell?

My fan base has been waiting for me to drop material for a long time. When Love Returns is literally the return of love. I haven’t dropped material in a good two or three years because of a situation I was in. I was legally tied to working with other people I didn’t want to work with. I couldn’t blatantly say that to my fans, though. I could only hint that towards them at least at that time. Now, I can say whatever I want. I was just legally bound to people. When Love Returns is just the return of me showing the world that I’ve been working and I’m here to stay. I’m going to give a bunch of different vibes. They’re going to get a little iSingHipHop, which is my hip hop-singing shit.

Who is iSingHipHop vs Justin Love?

iSingHipHop is my bread and butter. I’m not a rapper but you know there’s rap singers these days. I can sing bars. iSingHipHop is me singing bars and Justin Love is my mature R&B side.

Are there any collaborations on the project?

No collaborations on the project. If there’s anybody I give credit to I really genuinely appreciate all of the producers that were a part of this project .

Follow Justin Love on Instagram @OfficialJustinLove.

Send this to a friend