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J-SoL: Perfect gentleman

THE GRADUATE: UK singer J-SoL

IMAGINE THE pressure of graduating from an institution that has spawned the likes of international chart toppers Adele and Jessie J and then attempting to launch a career in music yourself. The constant comparisons, the high expectations and, of course, the No.1 enquiry that will top any journalist’s list of questions.

“There’s definitely a bit of pressure where that’s concerned,” says former BRIT School student J-Sol when I, on cue, ask the question that will probably haunt him throughout most of his media campaign.

“People will automatically think that you’re suddenly going to make a name for yourself and that’s never really the case. [The BRIT School] is just like a stepping-stone. Obviously, it’s a great opportunity to go to that school, but you still have to work just as hard as anyone else to keep up to that level and standard.”

The Essex-born singer adds: “That being said, there haven’t been a lot of male artists from there, especially singers. I know [UK duo] Rizzle Kicks and [UK rapper] Bashy, went there, but there has never really been a male singer from the BRIT School that has really crossed over to that commercial level.”

J-Sol released his debut single Alien featuring UK rapper Cashtastic last year with huge support from BBC Radio 1xtra and Choice FM, but those in the know will already be familiar with the 20-year-old’s talent in the industry.

Although his foray into music is relatively new, the singer spent many years making a name for himself as the ‘chorographer to the stars’.

However, despite boasting a CV that includes work with the likes of Afrobeats star D’banj, Bajan quartet Cover Drive and popular south London rapper, Giggs, J-Sol decided to turn his back on dance to focus on his one true love: music.

“Music is what I love,” says the singer, who also doubles up as an accomplished songwriter.

“I remember one day I was watching [music chart show] Top of The Pops and I saw [US singer] Usher performing. I remember saying to myself, ‘I want to do that’. The way the girls went crazy was a good selling point too,” adds the self-confessed ‘ladies man’.

“I’m a gentleman too,” he retorts when I highlight his smooth-talking ways.

“Let’s just say that I’m a bit of both. I know how to treat a woman like a lady”.

His response provides the perfect cue for us to move into the thinking behind his aptly titled new single, Treat Her Like A Lady.

“At the time of writing the song, I was talking to a lot of females who had gone through abusive or hard relationships,” he explains. “I’m one of those people who can’t stand a guy who would lay his finger on a female. I don’t like the idea of a man leaving his kids. All of these things inspired me to write the song. The lyrics in that song really touch on what I was thinking and highlight the things that I would do if I was in a relationship.”

Of course my natural follow-up question is whether he has a girlfriend. He pauses. For ages.

“I don’t,” he finally manages.

When I question what took him so long to answer, he bursts out laughing.

“Because I had to think about it! What are you trying to get out of me? Let’s just say, it’s new beginnings.”

Something tells me that his relationship status on Facebook would read: ‘It’s complicated’. I leave it there.

Thankfully, his future in music looks a lot more certain than his current relationship status. Just two years ago he opened up for celebrated R&B quartet Boyz II Men at London’s sprawling O2 Arena and has worked with the likes of US singer Bobby V and UK rappers Wretch 32 and Chip.

“You know when something so good happens, you find it hard to make sense of it? Performing with Boyz II Men was one of those moments. When I was asked, I was like, ‘What Boyz II Men? Is there a new band? That whole day was a blur, but I do remember watching them and thinking, ‘wow!’ They sound exactly like the CD.”

He adds: “There are not many artists who make you want to get on the stage. They are one of them, as is Usher, Michael Jackson and Beyoncé.”

Can the same be said for his UK peers?

“Bar Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32 and a few others, there are not many UK artists that make me want to get onto the stage. Jessie doesn’t even need to dance or anything, she just naturally has it.”

On the absence of young black male R&B singers in UK mainstream music, J-Sol, who was last year described as former Choice FM presenter, Jenny Francis’ ‘favourite male artist’, said: “I just feel like the right person hasn’t come. There are a lot of labels in the UK that don’t know how to brand a black R&B artist, but there’s going to be a change and I hope that I can be a part of it.”

Treat Her Like A Lady is out now. For more information, visit: www.jsolworld.co.uk or follow @Jsolworld on Twitter

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