Jozzy Is Taking Music's Center Stage: Interview
This feature is in our Summer "Music" Issue. Click here to subscribe.
Jozzy photographed by Mr. Koa
Jozzy is a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning songwriter and artist from Memphis, Tennessee. Mentored by Timbaland and Missy Elliott, she has written for countless industry legends, spanning several genres. Jozzy is responsible for writing Billy Ray Cyrus’ verse on Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road [Remix],” “Low” by SZA,” “Pray it Away” by Chlöe and many more.
Jozzy recently embraced her artistry after signing with Diddy’s Love Records. Earlier this year, she released her debut EP, Songs for Women, Free Game for N*****, an intimate, soulful deep-dive into the artist’s love life. The 10-track EP has received rave reviews from critics and fans alike.
Embracing activism, Jozzy has consistently spoken out on her struggle as an LGBTQ+ woman of color and has advocated for more diversity at the forefront of the music industry. In addition, she has adamantly pushed for better treatment and compensation of songwriters.
Taking time out of her busy schedule, Jozzy sat down with EDITION to detail her experience of stepping into the spotlight.
Jozzy photographed by Mr. Koa
What was the experience of taking center stage and recording your debut EP?
It was amazing. I was ready. I just knew that there was a particular sound of r&b that I was missing. I was missing the r&b where you can bop your head to it but still feel something. I decided to do these songs for myself. I went to the Bahamas with Puff, my engineer, and I locked in for four days and made the project.
It took so long to get Love Records off the ground. In between those times when I didn’t have sessions with other artists, I would go back in and fix, add or take off songs from the project. It became like a two-year process on Songs for Women, and I’ve never sat with songs that long. I don’t like being a perfectionist when it comes to music. I feel like perfection shouldn’t be in music. That was my first time being a perfectionist with a project, and I’m not going to say I’m going to do it again. I don’t think it takes two years to put a project together, but I’m glad Songs for Women came out how it did. People love it, and it means so much to me that they do.
What’s been the biggest difference between operating as a solo artist as opposed to a songwriter?
The difference is talking to people more. You have to think about everything. As a songwriter, I just think about the music, and then I’m out of the picture. Now, I have to think about the image, the look, the aesthetic, everything. Everything has to be thought about. Especially in L.A., I have to be careful who I’m walking out of the restaurant with. I never used to think about that. You must be careful because everybody’s eyes are on you a little bit more. But I really love being a part of the new R&B wave of artists. Hopefully, I can be the king of R&B one day.
You’re the first signee of Diddy’s Love Records. I was curious to know more about your relationship with him and what it means to you to have the respect and trust of such a legend in the industry.
If you’re a legend, you’re a legend for a reason. That’s why I love Madonna, and that’s why Mary J. Blige can get whatever from me. Puff is no different, no exception. He’s an icon. He was letting me know who I was, and indeed I knew, but it’s nothing like getting affirmation from somebody that you admire. He didn’t have to sell me on it at all, and he came as far as to offer it as a partnership.
I had been signed to a label before, but it wasn’t a partnership. I don’t even know who the CEO of that label was. I never went to their house to eat dinner. I didn’t go on a private plane. I didn’t stay the night at their house in Miami and chill with their family. Puff is really my brother, so it was an easy decision for me.
As the first signee to Love Records, this EP represents the label's beginning. When creating this project, did you feel a sense of responsibility to set the tone for the label? Or were you mainly focused on just making the best music possible?
Yeah, of course. I needed to set the tone for him, too. I wanted him to understand. When we make those statements that R&B is bad, we gotta back that up. People are going to hate on us if we don’t come good. They going to say, “Oh, you thought this was gonna bring R&B back?”
I’m just so happy with the response it had. I haven’t heard anybody say it was trash. You can say whatever you want about me, about puff, but they can’t say anything about that project. That’s how you know the project is too good.
Jozzy photographed by Mr. Koa
What is the importance of the songwriter in today’s industry, and why should they be recognized in the same way as producers, artists, etc?
Songwriters are supposed to be respected and loved just like producers to the point where I feel like songwriters need to get tags in the same way that producers do. People really like don’t respect the songwriter, and we’re going to change that narrative. You got to respect me; you got to respect Nova Wav, you have to respect Ant Clemons. We have to control our narrative.
I have conversations with artists all the time. Chlöe was on Breakfast Club, and she mentioned my name. She told the truth about how “Pray it Away” was made, and I love it. I think it’s up to the artists to change the narrative, and they're doing a good job, and I'm happy. Some artists are still scared of the taboo of ‘songwriter,’ but they just gotta grow up and realize this is the industry. This is the music business. It’s a collaboration; even in school, you had to do group projects. It’s okay, you are still great.
You’re actually even more great because you realize where you need help. Even Michael Jackson knew he needed Rod Temperton. Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way. We have to put our egos aside and do it for the music.
What is something that you anticipate or would like to see in your future as an artist?
I haven't done anything until I tap a million people. I can’t wait to tap a million. Not a million streams; I've done that. That’s cool. I’m talking about a million people. I want to be MTV, BET, Grammy and NAACP Award-winning. I want to win awards for what I’m doing, and I’m gonna win awards for what I’m doing.
I really just want to be one of the best R&B artists in the game. When you think of Jozzy, you think of quality music. Every time I drop, you know that this project is going to be better than the last one. From this EP, I did it by myself and didn’t want features. So for the album, I’m calling out all my artist friends, and I’m going to put them on there and make a masterpiece.
I want to keep feeding the streets with summertime R&B. I want my songs to play in the club like rap songs. I got a lot of ideas, but I want to reach a million people. That’s how I’ll know I made it.
Jozzy's Songwriting Hits
"Virgo’s Groove" by Beyoncé
"Renaissance is a part of history, and it’s great to hear people putting your name in the topic. From me to Nova Wav to The Dream to Nija Charles, a lot of amazing songwriters are getting their love from this project, and my liking women is a plus. I am a part of the unapologetically queer team, and it’s great to be a part of history, to be known and not forgotten."
"Old Town Road [Remix]" by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
"When it hit No. 1 for those many weeks, I kind of got scared because I didn’t want to get put in a box as a writer. I didn’t even take in it being No. 1 until the last day. Then, I realized it’s not easy to be No. 1 for 20 weeks. I’m so thankful for 'Old Town Road', and I’m so glad it was destined for me. Anybody could have done it, but I was chosen for it."
"Low" by SZA
"I’m really the only person that SZA has ever really worked with. She said, 'I don’t want you to do me; I can do me.' That gave me confidence, first and foremost, because she likes what I do. After she said that, it was game time, and she just embodied everything about 'Low.'”
"Pray it Away" by Chlöe
"I had taken it where I wanted it to go as far as harmonies and my melody backgrounds, but I didn’t have a choir and all that. To hear what she did with it, you can tell she really makes songs hers, and I love it. It’s like, don’t try to do what I do even though I brought it to you. You’re supposed to add to it and make it yours. She really did that, and I was proud of her."