Chicago Soul R&B artist Rich Jones is as smooth as they get.
We happen to stumble upon a Lyrical Lemonade co-sign of Rich Jones on Twitter, which is the creative force behind some of the most notable emerging artists in hip-hop and R&B over the last few years including Juice WRLD, Lil Xan, XXXtentacion and Lil Skies.
Founder, music video director and all around curator Cole Bennett seems to be the Jimmy Iovine of this era. When he backs an artist, people pay attention and their talent seems to shine a little brighter.
We were curious and instantly hooked on first listen to Jones’ single “I’m In Deep” which flows like a breezy summer day on Lake Shore Drive. It’s bouncy, perfectly arranged and vocally smooth AF.
RSD: How did you link up with the Lyrical Lemonade camp and is there a collaboration in the works with Cole Bennett?
RJ: Elliot Montanez is a fan of my work, so big love to him for sharing my stuff. Cole’s a busy fella, I’ll check in with him whenever he’s touched back down to earth but that might be awhile. Would be a lot of fun though.
RSD: Your vocal tone is so soulful and rich…Rich. Every great vocalist seems to have a signature pitch that can be recognized from the first verse. You have a very distinctive sound that is laid back, soothing, yet powerful and engaging. When did you first feel that sense of empowerment and find your voice?
RJ: On a record, my song Shadows. I recorded it for an EP I released in 2012 called Politely 100. That was the 1st time I could really feel something different. It came on full blast after I recorded + released my song Devotion. What’s unique about both of those records – I performed them for a good while before recording them, meaning my that my sense of how to layer vocals was based on how I’d felt doing it live. With Devotion especially, it was as if the vocal harmonies were already in place. I just had to lay it down!
RSD: “I’m In Deep” off of your recent EP release The Shoulder You Lean On happened to be the first track we listened to and we were instantly vibing. This song has such a dope melody and bounce to it and is a little different from your other songs. What was the inspiration behind the lyrics and the arrangement choice?
RJ: I went to LA to record and perform in February of 2018, and this got done day 1 of that trip. I was inspired by the environment 1st + foremost. Chicago during winter is generally not a joke so to be somewhere warm was definitely something I was appreciative of. That said, as an independent artist, all my moves are self-funded and I’ve definitely gotten past the “is this what I really want to do with my life?” phase. This is my life! This is what I wanna do! However – some days, the weight of that is a bit more noticeable than others. In summation – it’s a literal reflection on where I was in that moment, grateful to be where I was and working but also feeling the weight of it all. Throw Kiara in the mix and it was game over!
RSD: On that note, did the beat come first or did you already have those lyrics in your back pocket while looking for the right way to structure them?
RJ: Wrote everything on the spot, J. Kelr was working on the beat. I know Kiara from Chicago and had given her the heads up that I was gonna be in LA so it worked out timing wise for her to slide through.
RSD: You seem to have natural cohesion with producer J. Kelr. The EP flows nicely and is very copasetic. Were you friends first or did that come after the first studio session?
RJ: We’ve known each other since 2011. I’d been a fan of Blended Babies prior to that and was super excited when a mutual friend linked us up. Initially, I was doing some songwriting for him over email – nothing major but the 1 song that did sell paid my rent so I was VERY happy about that. Our 1st proper session in 2013 was during my 1st trip to LA. We clicked hard but weren’t able to get anything really going until 2017 when I was out there for a wedding. That session yielded “Step Into You” and that was a rare 1 – we wrote and recorded that in less than an hour and when it was wrapped I felt like a million bucks. We HAD to make more! And we did!
RSD: You’re actively involved in the Chicago music scene. What’s on the horizon for Rich Jones? Are there risks you’re taking that could expand your boundaries?
RJ: More music! I have a pretty big archive of sounds I’m sitting on, so my goal this year is to find fun, better ways to get it to people. Gotta be consistent with it.