Published May 31, 2017For JMSN (pronounced Jameson), self-determinism wins the day. A few shots of his favourite whiskey don't hurt either.
"I'm a lot more focused now," says JMSN of the soulful Whatever Makes U Happy, between drags on a cigarette. "It's just about accepting that this is what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life, so I better do what I like to do, rather than doing what I think people will like."
His journey has seen him dabble in — and become disenchanted with — major label life, as a part of an Atlantic Records "powerpop" group called Love Arcade, then signed, as a "blue-eyed soul" artist monikered Christian TV, to Universal Motown. From there, he evolved as a producer-slash-singer-for-hire, brandishing glistening vocals on Kendrick Lamar's sophomore (and breakout) Good Kid, m.A.A.d city album, alongside respective singles for names like the Game, Ab-Soul and Montreal uber-producer Kaytranada.
Equal parts wistful, whimsical, and shouting out to the virtues of moderate alcohol consumption, Whatever Makes U Happy marks JMSN's fifth studio album. It reflects his pledge to independence — he retains his own label, White Room Records — and his unremitting refinement of a new wave R&B, Prince-influenced rock and odd-metered blues aesthetic. Indeed, his is a sound embedded in Motown soul, dirty D-town hip-hop, and crunchy garage rock and blues — having grown up binging on multicultural music while living in the economically-challenged Michigan suburb of Eastpointe.
If the condition of the self is, in fact, a result of previous states of the self, then the L.A.-by-way-of-Detroit singer-songwriter's slaphappy "keep drinking, keep smoking" slant to life and music is on to something.
"I grew up in the Kid Rock, White Stripes, Eminem era so that's what influenced me as an artist," he says. "Those three artists — not even that they were musically the same, they just did what was true to them and inspired me to do the same."