AHHA: Let’s talk about the Vida [Guerra] rumors [of romance] that were rampant. How much of that was true?
Frankie J: Okay, I’m a let yall know just to clear it up, we’re just friends! We’re friends, we’re homies, she’s my girl – we did the video together, yes. It came out great, we did the video “Obsession,” we filmed it here in New York, and I don’t know – I guess it’s just that once you do a video with someone out there who is in the public eye. Of course Vida is a beautiful woman, she definitely has the attention of the fellas. I don’t know, I guess maybe people thought that we were dating or seeing each other, but it was really not like that. She’s really just a very good friend of mine, and I wish her the best of luck. She’s doing very well right now in her career and that’s it. I don’t know why people were thinking that we were dating or anything like that, she’s my homegirl.
AHHA: Let’s talk about [Un Neuvo Dia]. What was the success rate outside the U.S. versus inside the U.S.?
Frankie J: Well with the Spanish album, I came from a Latin fan base with Kumbia Kings, and I definitely didn’t want to stray away from my culture and roots. Writing this album in Spanish, and producing and working with different people definitely was a need for me. I definitely think that it made a great impact in my fans, I didn’t want to disappoint my fans ’cause it was weird making that transition from the Latin market to the Anglo side. I did lose some fans on the way, but I think I regained them by making that Spanish album.
AHHA: When you say you lost fans, do you feel it was because of the language barrier?
Frankie J: Yeah us as Latinos, we’re very strong with our roots and culture. If we feel like somebody’s going a certain direction we’re like, Hey, hold up, you started in this industry, why are you changing sides now? But at the end of the day music is music, and I always say if music is great, you really believe in yourself, what you’re doing, and you have the heart for it. Why not try something new, fresh and different?
The moment you see me you already know I’m Latino, I’m Mexican. I was born in Mexico, raised in the States, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve strayed away from my roots because I’m doing R&B music On the way out of the Latin market I did lose some fans. but after that I think I regained them all. The second English album went platinum, so I can’t complain. The second album in Spanish was Top 10 on Billboard.
AHHA: Your career can kind of parallel Selena – she was American, but she did well in Mexico first then came back and made her success before she passed away. Have you drawn anything from her experience?
Frankie J: I definitely learned a lot from her as an individual and as a human being – she was definitely someone who was loved by her audience. That’s somebody who I looked up to because she stayed in this environment where she loved by the Anglo side and loved by the Latin side. I think I carry a lot of her feel and her vibe as a Latino artist, conquering both markets at the same time and being able to stay on top of everything. Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias did the same thing. By the way, Enrique is my boy. I talk to him every now and then, and he always kind of guides me in certain directions [towards] keeping my head up and not letting all that negativity come across [to] just keep positive. He always tells me, You’re doing something good for us Latinos, and you’re definitely creating a vibe that not that many Latinos are out there doing right now, especially in the R&B world.
AHHA: I’m assuming that you’ve been working on this new album for a while. It wasn’t like you [jumped] from album to album.
Frankie J: No, it was a process – it didn’t take one or two months. It definitely took more than that. This next album which is called Priceless comes out October 17th and the first single [That Girl] is produced by Mannie Fresh featuring Chamillionaire. The whole approach to this next record was definitely to give it more of the urban appeal, which was more of what I’ve always been wanting to do when I got signed to Columbia. Working with different artists like Bone Thugs and Harmony who have been just incredible in the Hip-Hop industry and world, Slim from 112, Play N Skillz who are up and coming big producers that are definitely doing their thing right now producing Chamillionaire’s “Ridin Dirty,” Brian Michael Cox and Happy Perez, who has been with me every step of the way since my first single out on radio.
It took a while to plan everything out. At the end I always have the hardest time figuring the name of the album out. For some reason it’s always planned out at the end of it all – once all of the songs are done, we definitely have to carry a vibe and say Okay, what could this album be called? What kind of a vibe do we want? Priceless, I thought, was a great name for it. It definitely has a lot of meaning – it’s a very strong word. It was just definitely something that was a process for me, but I loved every minute of it working on it, and being able to create concepts of songs and work with all these different producers and writers.
AHHA: Going into promoting this album after your experiences with your first three [solo albums] and the Kumbia Kings before that, what experiences are you bringing to the table [that are] different than what you’ve done in the past?
Frankie J: Well, I’m definitely giving it more of an urban appeal, and I think now my label gets what I’m about. In the beginning, they were trying to figure out how to market me as an artist and an individual with what I was trying to bring to the table. I think now, after the first album selling the 300,000 copies and the second album going platinum, now to this album – it’s more of a mature me. I believe it’s much stronger and it’s that next level for me, I’m growing as an artist. I study what’s out in the clubs and on the radio – I have to be on point with all of those things. This album has that next level feel.