Judging by their musical abilities, drive and lyrical subject matter, most would guess that sibling duo Jake&Papa — formerly of the group Brutha — are far from new to the game. Staying true to soul and R&B, these guys force respect and appreciation into the ‘Young, fresh and new’ concept.
Just three months after releasing their second mixtape Somethin’ Soulful, they’re already in the process of creating the third. The reasoning, Papa says, is because Somethin’ Soulful was recorded to sonically and artistically match the quality of an album. The next mixtape is meant to be received as an album follow-up. While the Def Jam artists have completed their debut titled Vacancy, they’re waiting for the right time to release it. For now, their focus is solely on mass creation of real music.
Soul Train: What have you guys been up to?
Papa: We’re about to start working on a new mixtape. We’ve just been writing all day, listening to beats and getting into the creative flow.
Soul Train: What can you tell us about the new tape?
Papa: It’s so brand new that we can’t really give you much. We’re just starting and have a few songs done, but it’s going to be something for the summer. It’s going to be Jake&Papa as usual but more fun and music for when you’re on your way to the club, in the club or trying to function. Not too many songs, maybe eight to ten.
Soul Train: You’ve moved on to a new project even though Somethin’ Soulful dropped a few months ago. How long did it take you guys to put that together?
Papa: It took us probably about three months and some change. We started working on Somethin’ Soulful in October and put it out in February.
Soul Train: Was it titled Somethin’ Soulful, because that’s what’s missing in music?
Jake: There are some people out there that are putting soul in their music, because that’s natural when you sing with passion and when you love what you do. There is a certain kind of music that is missing and we just want to bring that back and add more soul. A lot of the kids these days don’t put soul and passion into what they’re doing, because of what they see everyday and what’s on the airwaves. So, soul is missing in a way, yeah. We’re trying to bring it back in the best way we can.
Soul Train: Besides life experiences, what gets you in the mood or inspires you to write and get a good song out?
Papa: I could hear a good story from somebody about something they just went through, a friend calling me for relationship advice, or my own relationships. A lot of times I get ideas from movies and I just go off that.
Soul Train: What would you say Jake&Papa brings to R&B that’s different?
Jake: He and I really breathe and live music. It’s not just something we do for fun, it’s not something we discovered we can do; it’s something that we live. I feel like people get that through our music. They feel our souls and feel all the passion in our voices. It’s not something that can really have a label. We listen to all types of music from Elton John to Aretha Franklin. We listen to everything and combine it into one sound. I feel like it’s a sound that’s never been done before.
Soul Train: What do you guys listen to for leisure vs. for inspiration?
Papa: That pretty much just depends on the mood and what I’m trying to create. I could listen to Pac, Donny Hathaway, Michael Jackson or Waka Flocka if I’m feeling it. We try to draw inspiration from everything.
Soul Train: Is there someone you both look up to musically or who you’re always listening to?
Jake: Man, the list is countless: Jackson 5, Sam Cooke, R. Kelly, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston of course, Kim Burrell, J. Moss, everybody! We draw inspiration from any great artist.
Papa: Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Pac! One thing that separates us too is the different kind of music that we listen to. We do have old souls, but we’re young. We’re in our twenties, but we find the happy medium between being inspired by rock artists, alternative artists, blue-eyed soul artists, R&B; everything. We find a way to mesh it together and tie it into our sound. It sounds crazy, but we make it work.
Soul Train: So, what’s your opinion on the integration of R&B and dance music, basically music on the radio that people are calling R&B music?
Jake: You can’t be mad at music evolving; it’s always going to take different steps. The whole disco sounding music is just music evolving, but at the end of the day rhythm and blues is rhythm and blues and it can’t be labeled as something that’s floor. I’ve never agreed with that. We all know what R&B is. When we think of R&B we think of Jodeci, Mary J. Blige and R. Kelly. There’s a certain sound R&B is supposed to have. There’s nothing wrong with calling this music pop; it doesn’t have to be called R&B, because we all know what R&B is.
Soul Train: Could you guys ever see yourselves transitioning into a sound that’s far removed from real R&B?
Papa: When it comes to writing it, we could write that for sure. When it comes to Jake&Papa performing it, probably not.
Soul Train: Good, I’m glad you said no! What would you say you admire most about working with your brother?
Jake: We could be writing a song, it could be my idea and be basically done, but Pop will come with this one little idea that sets the tone of the whole song. Whether he wrote the song or I wrote the song, he’ll come with an idea that ties it together and brings a lot to the song like in “Poetry in Motion.”
Papa: Awww cuz (laughs). There are two things that I admire about my brother. One, I’ve always admired his discipline. That’s one thing I lack that he makes up. Two is his concepts. He has crazy concepts and it helps me dig deeper in my writing — like “Poetry in Motion” — I had to dig deeper to live up to the expectation.
Soul Train: Is the new album still going to be titled Vacancy?
Jake: Vacancy is basically done. It’s an album that’s epic and that’s going to change the world. There’s no telling what can happen in the future. We’re making so much music we just don’t know what to do with ourselves. We’re going to keep dropping music and see what happens, but it is done and it’s something to look forward to.
Soul Train: Is there anyone that you want to work with on the new album or mixtape?
Papa: Kendrick Lamar.
Jake: I want to work with Jhene Aiko. It’s always nice to work with hungry artists that are dope.
Papa: And that have nice hair.
Soul Train: You guys are clearly separated and Brutha is done, but what made you want to continue on and not let everything fizzle away?
Jake: Basically everybody had a different perspective on what should be happening with the group — business wise. At the end of the day those are our brothers and we love them, but there was no way we were going to allow somebody else to determine our futures. We just had to separate and know that no matter who stepped away from the group we were going to continue on, because me and Pop were made to do music. We love our brothers and talk to them all the time, but there was nothing that was going to stop me and Pop from doing music.
Papa: Also as men you really have no choice. If you’re a man you’re going to do what you have to do and that was the only choice we were pretty much stuck with.
Jake: People have said a lot of things even when we were a group. At the end of the day everything happens for a reason and we’ve never been happier than where we are right now. We’re creating on a grand scale and doing everything that we’ve wanted to do. There’s nothing to feel discouraged about. If we were to go 10x platinum tomorrow, people would still have something negative to say about us.
Soul Train: When you think back to the reality show what comes to mind?
Papa: With the reality show there were pros and cons. It did what it did at the moment. It can’t really do anything for Jake&Papa, so it’s not really in our thought process any more.
Soul Train: Would you consider doing it again with just Jake&Papa?
Jake: We’d have to think about it. There are some positive things a show can do and there are negative things as well. We all know Beyoncé would never have a reality show that exposes everything that she goes through and that completely takes away her mystique. However, you get to connect with people that you would never get to. Like Pop said, there are pros and cons, so we’d have to think about it.
Soul Train: Will we hear you guys ever sing with your brothers again?
Papa: I don’t know. That’s something you guys would have to see in the future. Right now it’s just Jake&Papa.
Makula Dunbar is a journalist covering music, entertainment, business and community. Founder and editor of digital culture magazine Cognizant Measure, her work has been featured in print and across the web via UPTOWN Magazine, The Atlanta Post, Sister 2 Sister Magazine, the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Hiphopruckus.com and many more. Follow her on twitter @Kules.