(Jul. 8, 2004) "FRESH
FACE": LLOYD: The newest kid on the hip-hop/soul block is not that new at all. But his hot sound, his slick image and
his latest record company dealings warrant him to kick off our first FRESH FACE series.
Lloyd is the hot and hip young crooner shaking
things up on the R&B scene via The Inc. Records. For the un-enlightened: that’s notorious hip-hop music mogul Irv
Gotti’s flourishing Def Jam-backed enterprise –formerly Murda Inc.—which boasts
multi-platinum success stories such as Ja Rule
The New Orleans born, Atlanta-bred 18-year-old
has a hot track out featuring the company’s aforementioned “princess,” called “South Side,”
which is in the Top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and is the #1 Most Played
Music Video on BET, respectively.
But this young cat born under the name Lloyd Polite
(pronounced pa-leet) isn’t a novice to the music game. As an original member of the late 1990’s teeny-bop
group N-Toon, the youngster experienced some marginal celebrity status with one of his younger brothers and two fellow Atlanta
based schoolboys. Conceived by Klymaxx member Joyce Irby, N-Toon released a single “Ready” on Interscope Records
and an album, “Toon Time” via Dreamworks.
“We did our chitlin’ circuit run,
“ he candidly reflects on those humble beginnings. “But I wasn’t always thrilled about it because I was
never on that kiddy shit. I was never on that pop, bubble gum, cotton candy eating kind of stuff. But on the same token, I
take it as a learning experience.”
And it’s paid off… look at how the
lead singer has grown up.
The plaited-up, self-professed playboy is sitting
back in his publicity flack’s office in midtown’s Worldwide Plaza complex, handling publicity chores like a seasoned
pro. Not a bit nervous, Lloyd takes on the most difficult questions while remaining congenial, and somewhat playful –
his body language is indicative of his youthful ardor.
On this humid summer afternoon, Lloyd is in town
making the rounds with mainstream media outlets such as “Teen People” and “YM” magazines,
while also visiting MTV and BET. He’s also performing a showcase at S.I.R. Studios for key industry tastemakers. With
his solo debut album, “Southside” hitting stores on July 20 and the title track blazing radio airwaves,
he is quite “in-demand.”
“I feel a little overwhelmed man,”
he confides, his voice lowering. “But then again, I understand that this is not a time to relax because I got a lot
more work to put in. I got a lot more to prove to a lot of people. But I was born to do it, man. This is the life we chose.”
His southern drawl has a way of drawing an interviewer
into the conversation, while his ghetto swagger keeps them tuned in.
Lloyd is a trip too – the boy thinks he’s
“Nah, I thought I was grown when I was twelve.
Now, I know I’m grown,” he quips. “I always felt like more a little more advanced than [others my age].
I always felt that I could run with the big boys.”
The big boys include Mr. Gotti (real name: Irving
Lorenzo)–whose flossy ways and uncanny fascination with mafia movie mentality may have put his company under the microscope
of federal investigators—who became smitten with young Lloyd after initially meeting him and hearing him sing a cappella,
a little over a year ago. “Irv has earned his stripes already,” Lloyd shares. “Irv has put in so much work.
And just being in the presence of somebody that already done great things, I gotta bow down to that.”
Def Jam’s newly minted head honcho Antonio
“L.A.” Reid (of LaFace Records fame and Arista Records infamy) was also in the mix too. The nattily dressed music
man, who launched the careers of OutKast, Usher, TLC, Pink, Avril Lavigne and Toni Braxton, was originally tapped to re-package
Lloyd. But some fateful timing led the youngster to the arms of the Gotti family fold.
“One thing I learned from coming in at an
early age is when you’re a new face in the game, the last thing you need to be is shy. You gotta have charisma. You
gotta make people love you,” he states, matter-of-factly.
Shy is what he is not. Not at all!
In the middle of the interview, Lloyd displays
some sexually titillating naughty boy banter with a female office worker (referring to her as “a secretary”),
who is sucking on a lollipop. “Let me taste it,” he asks in an amorous way – double entendre intended (It’s
like no one else is around.) Is it boyish charm? Or a case of raging teenage hormones? I wonder aloud. That’s when we
get to talking about the alluring trappings of the music world. I warn him not to make the same mistake some of his R&B
brothers before him have. He assures me he won’t.
And besides, he’s already on probation,
he reveals, so he knows better.
My ears start to burn. My eyes start to widen.
“Probation?” I yell.
“I ain’t no angel,” he whispers.
“I don’t really want to reflect on it, but I’ll say that everybody got their struggle stories.”
“Are you Fed? Are you with the Feds,”
he teases because of my continuous probing. “You know we have FED-A-CINNI problems.”
“I promise I’ll tell you after I speak
to my lawyer,” he jokes more. This kid has such a quick wit. You can see that he’s a bad ass, but you gotta
love him. It’s something about him that makes you want to root for him. And that’s a good thing.
He assures me that he hasn’t been to jail.
(He just looks like he has.) Mr. Gotti, whom he sometimes refers to as “IG,” made him hit the gym to get cut up.
It’s working, too. In some of his glossed-up photos, he’s baring his little chest. And the girls are eating it
up. (“And I’m getting at them,” he smiles, slyly).
Lloyd plays up his thug sex-appeal too. “We’re
PYT over here,” he beams. “That stands for Pretty, Young and Thuggin!” Okay! In almost the same breath,
he reveals that he’s more into older women. “I’ve never dated a girl younger than me. I’ve always
dated women older than me.” Hmmm. Ashanti plays his older lover in the video for “South Side.”
Musically, armed with his six-figure advance,
Lloyd says he is influenced by R. Kelly, Marvin Gaye and even Jodeci. Writing the majority of his first album, he’s
already standing out on his very own with his brand of “ghetto love” music.
“I feel it’s a
lot of prototypes,” he says of the current state of R&B music. “A lot of people trynna fill shoes that have
already been walked in. A lot of people want to be like other people. I feel like it’s a lot of bathwater music out
now. A lot of that bullshit. A lot of that ‘sun, moon and the stars above’ shit But at the same token, I chose
my own path. I walk my own path. I feel like it’s now or never with me.”