When she first came on the scene three years ago with her first album Denials, Delusions, and Decisions, Jaguar Wright found herself aligned with a debatable category of music labeled Neo-Soul.
You might remember seeing her on stage with one of Hip-Hops most intriguing groups, The Roots, or maybe you remember how she kicked out her big voice in the Coca-Cola commercial. All in all one of the most memorable and pivotal moments of Jaguar Wrights career was when she sang background for Jay-Z on MTVs Unplugged, sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop and R&B. At that moment, people began to really take notice.
Refusing to let the media stigmatize her soulful sound and upbringing, Jaguar has retuned with her sophomore effort Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul. Out to prove that she can hold her own, Jaguar has crafted her new album all by herself. The only way to truly prove that you are great is to do it on your own, says Jaguar. With the struggles of being a mother, an artist, and a wife on her back, Jaguar took time to tell Allhiphop.com Alternatives how it all goes down.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Youve been off the scene for a while. Whats been going on with you?
Jaguar: Just working and living.
AHHA: Whats been the biggest challenge for you so far being a wife and a mother in the music industry?
Jaguar: All of them. If I was to just do one, Id have it made. If I had to do two, I could probably manage okay. But doing all three is a lot.
AHHA: How are you able to keep a balance?
Jaguar: You cant – and anybody that says they can is lying. Theres no balance. You get up in the morning and do what you can get done that day, and then you get up the next morning and do what you didnt finish the day before. Sometimes certain things fall to the wayside, sometimes you forget things; sometimes you cant be a 100%. You just do it because thats who you are.
AHHA: Becoming pregnant with your second child – was that a surprise or was it planned?
Jaguar: I would say it was a little bit of both. Nobody really plans kids; I dont care what they say. God gives you what youre meant to have when youre meant to have it. Did I fully intend to have a kid? Yes Was I expecting to get pregnant when I did? No It wasnt like it was one of those things like, Oh my God what am I going to do? I called my managers, I called everyone and was like I know youre going to be pissed off but Im having my baby.
AHHA: Do you think things your career would have traveled differently if you didnt have your second child?
Jaguar: Yes. I know people like using that as an excuse, but I believe all the difficulties that went on in my career were because a lot of people were able to say and do a lot of things and use my pregnancy as an excuse. Any shows that I was supposed to be part of could have been postponed or pushed back, I wasnt told about that. People made decisions for me, said I wasnt available without even asking me. The truth is people do what they want to do. Had I not got pregnant, I wouldnt to be able to discover a lot of things that were happening in my own personal and family life. I have a 12-year-old son that is going through puberty right now, and because of this forced sabbatical Ive been able to really be a mom. In these types of situations you can keep working, you can keep writing, you just might not be able to do what you want to do right then. Furthermore I dont think I wouldnt have been able to come up with my new album if I hadnt gone through all of this.
AHHA: So you can say youre a prime example that things happen for a reason?
Jaguar: Yes, everything happens for a reason even and sometimes you dont see the reason until it shows up. Im not upset at all, and I think that most pleasant surprise of all is that people have been waiting for a new album from me. People didnt forget about me. When you think about it I only sold a quarter million records, I havent had any real TV presence in almost two years, I didnt have a strong radio presence because my record company at the time MCA records was a bunch of jerk off a**holes that just didnt give a sh*t about good music. They tried to have me trapped in the imaginary world of Neo-Soul. I should have just faded away. There are no more loyal listeners anymore – youre only as good as the last hit you had five minutes ago. Just to know that people have been waiting and remember lets me know theres strong loyalty there, and that proves to me that I must have made a strong impression.
AHHA: Tell us about your album.
Jaguar: I pretty much did the A&R and executive produced this project by myself. I wrote all the songs and also produced two songs. There are no cameo or guest appearances, and I did it on my own without The Roots. My album is f*ckin ridiculous, I couldnt be more proud. Im literally living my music right now, its so strange. I dont know if it makes me clairvoyant, brilliant, or blind. I think its a little of all three, because the smartest muthaf*ckas most of the time is the dumbest muthaf*ckas.
If I plan on having the career that I want to have, I have to do it with no help. Every song is incredible. All vocals are as they should be and the mixing is wonderful. The producers did a f*cking fantastic job. I did it all with just $150,000 when it should have cost a million dollars – Im pretty f*ckin incredible. Unfortunately I have to remind people. I dont mean to be cocky and sound like Im sweating myself, but Im not frontin – Im being really f*ckin realistic. Nobody could have done this sh*t but me. What a minute, thats a lie. Theres only one other person, and thats my buddy Jill Scott. Shes done it before.
AHHA: So you and Jill are good friends?
Jaguar: Yes. I love her to death. My life would not be the same without her. I have inherited her as a friend, comrade and confidant. I thank God for her. Its nice to have a friend that truly understands you.
AHHA: Tell me about your experience with working with The Roots.
Jaguar: Being with The Roots was one of the best experiences of my life. Im never going to make music like that again in my life its impossible. Theres magic between me and those gentlemen. You feel the electricity the second you step on the stage. Feeding on each other and giving it up. But the problem is when you are surrounded by a ton of greatness, people really cant see your individual greatness. People liked to associate my greatness with the fact that I was with The Roots. It was even said, She was cool in the Coca-Cola commercial because she was with The Roots. Nobody bothered to say that Coca-Cola came looking for me first, and then it only made sense for The Roots to be in commercial.
AHHA: You were fortunate to hook up with Jay-Z for MTV Unplugged. What was that experience like.
Jaguar: That was kind of undeniable because I stood on the stage on my own with some of the hugest heaviest hitters in the game and held my own and added something really great to the show. I will always be thankful to Jay for that, and that Mary J Blige shared the stage with me [when I] was just a little nobody.
After the MTV Unplugged show things got very difficult for me. JayZ has always been nothing but brilliant and wonderful, and for someone you barely know to embrace you and give you that type of opportunity and to completely say thumbs up… It wasnt a very happy home for me at MCA after that. Another female artist over at MCA did not like it, and made things difficult for me. It was a like compliment and a curse.
AHHA: How do you feel about being put into the Neo-Soul category?
Jaguar: There is no Neo-Soul category. It was dead from the moment it was conceived.
AHHA: Why do you feel that way about it?
Jaguar: Look at the word. Look at the phrase. Neo meaning new? New Soul? How is Soul new? For me to say Im doing new Soul is disrespecting the entire history of Soul singers. For me to say it’s new is to say, I was never influenced by Aretha Franklin because Im doing some knew sh*t. Marvin Gaye he was aight. That was some old sh*t this is some new sh*t. How can the f*ck can we divorce our history for a marketing ploy. We stab ourselves in the back by letting the media put that title on us. Were Soul singers – the only difference is we were raised in Hip-Hop. It’s evolution, theres nothing new about it. Were just the next generation.
AHHA: Whats craziest things youve ever heard about yourself?
Jaguar: I dont know. There is always some crazy rumor going on about me – Im an alcoholic, I cheat on my husband, Im aloof – but the overall craziest thing Ive ever heard about myself is that I purposefully tried to sabotage my career by getting pregnant because I was afraid to compete.
AHHA: How did it make you feel to know that someone had said that about you?
Jaguar: I didnt feel anything from it. If anything, I felt sorry for the person who said it.
AHHA: In your music you seem write about life experiences and people you know. Have you ever written something about someone and had them confront you about it?
Jaguar: Yeah. I feel like if you dont want me to write about it, dont be around me.
AHHA: Has it ever had an impact on a relationship you had with someone?
Jaguar: Yes. Do I care? No. Its the truth. If you dont want your life on record dont mix it with mine.
AHHA: How important is mainstream success to you?
Jaguar: Not important at all. I could care less. I dont need to be an A-list celebrity. I dont want to be followed around, I dont want to be harassed, or find pictures of myself in different magazines. Coming up being known by everybody wasnt always a good idea, so why should I want to change that now. I know that to a certain extent I know there are some compromises Im going to have to make, but Im not going to compromise my integrity and dignity. I dont need to be the it girl. If I never have a mainstream multi-platinum album its not going to hurt my feelings.
I always say youre not a real entertainer unless you can stand on a stage with a four piece stage with no theatrics. I always believed, concentrate on the work and make the work great, and if the work is great you will inevitably become successful – and with success comes money, fame and all the rest of it. I want to be an acclaimed artist – not a chased-after artist. I want to be recognized for my talents, my gifts, my thoughts, and my words.