Listeners first heard Sterling Simms on Jay-Z‘s “Dig A Hole” [click to read] from 2006’s Kingdom Come album [click to read]. In the two years since, the 26 year-old Def Jam artist has appeared prominently with rappers, with his Jadakiss-assisted “All I Need” in rotation now.
Last week, the Philadelphia native spoke with HipHopDX about how he’s creating a knack for bringing Hip Hop and R&B together. “I’m an ’80s baby. So you can’t sing about the ’80s and not sing about Hip Hop,” he started. “I’ll be the first to admit that I got onto Hip Hop late, ’cause I’ve always been an R&B head because of my mom and my grandfather and everybody else that was involved with music in my family. I can remember hearing the Ready To Die CD [by Notorious B.I.G.] for the first time. It was a life-changing experience for me. I’m like, ‘Who is this dude? And why is he painting these pictures so vivid that even I can understand at 12 and 13 years old?’ Then I heard Jay and Nas, and Hip Hop has just influenced me since then.“
That led Simms to create a platform for his label-mate on his new single. “With this ‘All I Need’ record, Jada added that Hip Hop element. It was needed on that record.“
Admittedly inspired by Soul music pioneers like Sam Cooke, Simms then spoke about the R&B genre, in the wake of releases from Raphael Saadiq [click to read] and Anthony Hamilton, as well as his forthcoming debut, returning to its roots. “Music, it always comes full circle. I can definitely see it getting back to the [soulful] part of R&B and just real music. I think over the past couple of years, R&B has been watered down. A lot of music has been watered down. If you’re a music head, I’m sure you agree – even with a lot of the Hip Hop [releases] that are out. I think everything has its time. I think the real R&B/Soul is definitely coming back.“
With the recession upon us, Sterling also concurred that it’s due time for heartfelt music to combat the troubled times. He says though, it’s deeper than just content, it’s about unifying action in the genre. “It’s about R&B creating a sound for change. It’s about R&B and the Hip Hop community coming together to trying a make a change for the better.” He added, “A lot of singers and artists back then, when times were hard, were unifying together, and that’s what made the movement so strong. I can see that definitely that now with Rock getting into [urban music]. We see a lot of [artists] coming together to make the movement strong. I think that’s reflected in the music we do.“
After a grand introduction two years ago, Sterling also explained to DX
what’s taken him so long, as peers like Ne-Yo and The Dream have
blossomed into stars in the time since. “I had another album that I turned in a year and a half ago to Def Jam, and it was called Worth Your While.
We shelved the project – one, because I felt like it wasn’t my best
effort. I felt like I was being rushed. I didn’t want to rush the album
I been working on since I was young. I been signed to Def Jam for two years now, so I wanted to give the public and my fans my best effort.“
On December 23, Sterling Simms will unveil his debut Yours, Mine & The Truth. The title means a lot, according to the singer. “This album is autobiographical. This record is based upon a few relationships that I went through in my past with different women. It’s their [perspective] why it didn’t work out, it’s my [perspective] why it didn’t work out, and there’s the truth.” The theme plays out over 13 songs.
Asked about the outcome, Sterling jokes, “The truth is, you just gotta listen to it to find out.”