Jack Freeman w/ PJ Morton
June 23 at 8:30
The House of Dereon Media Center
2204 Crawford St
Houston vocalist Jack Freeman is making a name for himself as a performer who specializes in giving audiences soul music with an old school, throwback feel. A singer who’s done hook work for H-Town rappers like Lil’O, Le$ and The Niceguys, Freeman released his own R&B mixtape in 2011 called Lynnie’s Juke Joint (available for download on jackfreeman.bandcamp.com).
Freeman, who opens for PJ Morton later this month at the House of Dereon Media Center, recently answered some questions about music, Houston’s R&B scene, and why he takes so many damn shirtless pics of himself on Instagram.
H: We just have to ask, why must you take photos of yourself on Instagram, all buffed out and swollen in the chest like that? What are you trying to prove, man?
JF: Nothing. The concept is simple. You can do anything your mind can conceive. But the problem is that people are afraid to leave their comfort zone. And the workout equipment doesn't really care about your comfort zone. I see others sometimes and I say, “Shit, let me get myself in there and push harder, because he gets it.” When you put time and 100 percent effort into creating something, this is the type of thing that can happen. It's just a motivational tool, honestly. Because anytime I do it, someone hits me like, “Man, I need to work harder,” just as I do with others. Some find it motivating, others silently mock it. Mainly because, deep down, they feel like it takes something that they don't have to even wanna do that kind of work.
H: While we can't fault you for showing off what you've worked hard to get, we find the music you perform to be leaner and stronger. Where did it all begin with you on the music tip?
JF: Music was always a part of my life. Growing up hearing my dad sing, and all the records he'd play. My brother always had the newest hip-hop and R&B. I got familiar with names early. But I didn't start until I got off the football field in college. I tried to write a song and it sounded cool to me, so I gave it a shot. That was about four years ago now.
H: Your songs do have that mature, authentic, "grown folks music" vibe to them. Do you find that to be missing from most of today's R&B, which seems to be geared towards younger audiences?
JF: No, I don't think it's missing. It's almost like saying it’s dead. It's still there—it's just that kids talk louder, literally and figuratively. The thousands of 19-year-old girls who love Chris Brown, for instance, are a lot quicker to let it be known in every outlet than the thirty-something who loves Jill Scott. It's just two different styles and palettes. My music, to speak on the last album, was built for the quiet and laid-back night. Just like Jill, Musiq, Bilal, D'Angelo, Angie Stone, John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, etc. There are so many artists still making music, and still coming up, you just have to look for it. And support it when you find it.
H: Describe what it's like being an R&B artist in Houston. Would you say there is a palpable R&B scene going on in Houston?
JF: To be honest, I don't know what it's like to be an R&B artist in Houston. I know some of the others, but I'm not locked into that community, so to speak. I know there's talent out there. We all know that. I think there are some wonderful voices around. I just kinda get thrown in the middle because I'm around so many rappers because of my overall personality, which is cool because I don't wanna be lumped into so many Houston comparisons. I think on the outside looking in, again, you just have to look for the scene. Which isn't all bad, but for those artists with work that don't know where to go with it, and who to show it to outside of the intimate number of people they bring to their gigs, it's harder for them to be seen and heard. It would be nice if that could change.
H: What do you want people to take with them about Jack Freeman—apart from the fact that he goes to the gym a bit too much?
JF: First thing? You can never go to the gym too much, especially if you eat right. I just want them to take with them that I care about the work I put out. And because of that, the work I put out is easy to enjoy. Through this music, early twenty-somethings can vibe to it right next to their parents, and there won't be anything awkward about it. The music is for everyone, because the feeling is for everyone.