NAME: LLOYD HARLIN POLITE JR.
BIRTHPLACE: NEW ORLEANS, LA
HOMETOWN: ATLANTA, GA
For R&B singer Lloyd, the road to stardom has been marked by lots of twists and turns, high-speed chases and precise maneuvering. Sometimes hes taken the scenic route, other times hes swerved in and out of city traffic -- always with a firm grip on the wheel and his eyes glued to the road. Along the way, hes hit more than a few potholes, taken some detours and hes even found himself sitting on the side of the road a time or two, waiting for help. But the handsome 20-year-old singer/songwriter/businessman says his days of road blocks and traffic jams are over. Today hes in the drivers seat and hes commanding the open road, headed straight for stardom. And even though he might have to yield the right of way every now and then, Lloyd wont stop until he reaches his destination.
Singing came natural for Lloyd Polite, a native of New Orleans who grew up in Atlanta. I knew how to sing before I learned how to talk and I knew how to dance before I learned how to walk, he says with his charming boyish smile. Its just in my blood. He means that literally. Lloyds mother played piano and sang in the church choir while his father directed the choir and played saxophone. It was his parents belief in him even when other family members were doubtful that inspired Lloyd. It was that powerful to me that I just took a liking to it and I decided to just really try to perfect it.
When he was still a pre-teen, Lloyd met Joyce Irby, a singer and musician who, once upon a time went by the name Fenderella and played in a groundbreaking all-girl band called Klymaxx. Ten-year-old Lloyd met Irby during a rehearsal for a show at his performing arts elementary school. I sang a song for her; it was Stand By Me.
Irby told Lloyd she was putting together an R&B trio to shop to a friend at Warner Brothers. Lloyd was the first member to sign on and was later joined by Justin Clark and Everett Hall. Lloyd recalls, Our group was called Ntoon and we traveled a lot as kids, working the chitlin circuit. The showmanship grew and that was my first real introduction to the stage, doing shows for like 2,000 people one night and twenty people the next night and you have to give the same energy for each show. It taught me to treat everything like it is the big bang. When you stay ready you are always ready -- that was our motto. That was the beginning of it for me.
Ntoon signed a deal with Dreamworks Records, which turned out to be a nice place to visit but it wouldnt be their home for long. Still new to black music, Dreamworks wasnt quite prepared for Ntoon and eventually the group suffered the consequences, fell off the labels radar and broke up. But Lloyd was undaunted. I called Joyce and I talked to her and told her it would not stop here for me.
And it didnt stop.
Lloyd reflects, I was 14 years old and found myself going back to square one for the first time in my life and I was on my own again. It was my drive that helped me forget that I was young at the time and allowed me to go forward. So I called Joyce and was like Lets get some new records, some new music and I am going back into the rehearsal hall and Im gonna put together something. And we are gonna set up showcases in New York for all these labels and they are gonna have to come see us Ms. Joyce -- me and you -- and we are gonna kill em and make it happen.
Armed with a demo of new material and a heart full of ambition, Lloyd, now 15, and Irby made the rounds. The showcases proved successful and deals were put on the table. I ended up hooking up with Magic Johnsons label, MJM. They didnt really have anyone in my lane so I was feeling the situation because we could grow together. We put together the album and I got to travel all over the world and work with some of the best producers and encountered some incredible talents on this journey of mine. The album was incredible and it was done and mastered. The 2001 CD, Oh My Lloyd, spawned the hit single Hey Young Girl. I was very happy at the time, Lloyd beams. This was the first time that I was able to really step out of my shell and be a young man. And at the ripe young age of 16, Lloyd was his own man living in L.A. alone in his own apartment and the world at his feet. We got release dates and the video shoot was in place; we did our photo shoot and we were so excited and what do you know -- the label falls. A dejected Lloyd placed a call to his mom, who was back home in New Orleans worrying about her oldest son. It was like, well it didnt work this time, mom, but I cant stop.
And he didnt stop.
Lloyd kept his head up and his eyes affixed on his dream. I always kept it positive; everything happens for a reason, he says philosophically. I thought, this is Gods plan and maybe it was better we didnt put it out. Still, he couldnt help but wonder, Will the world ever get to hear me?
Lloyds footsteps led him back to Atlanta, and back to the familiar surroundings of Dallas Austins studio where he originally recorded with Ntoon. I remember just going back to DARP and just being there and not working on anything. I wanted to be in the game and I would feel like an athlete who was on the bench. My injuries were never self-inflicted; they were always brought on by someone else, by something I couldnt control. I thought, Well Ill get my chance. I just gotta stay ready.
A chance meeting at DARP with Arista Records A&R exec Mark Pitts landed Lloyd a showcase for Antonio L.A. Reid and, eventually an offer from the renown producer and label executive. But fate forged a detour. Around that same time, I met Irv Gotti, a young, in-the-trenches type dude. Now here you have L.A. who is in a three-piece suit and very clean and well mannered and then you have Gotti who is in his Timberland boots and got his pants rolled up so they dont get too dirty and Irv is a little bit more my speed. I can dig him because I felt like he would understand where I come from more because he reminded me of my family. While L.A. seemed to be like the wiser uncle of my family, Irv was like my big brother or cousin who I could run the streets with and do everything with. So I put my camo on and they drafted me into the Inc. army.
Lloyd was 17 at the time and certain about what he wanted from Murder Inc. My first conversation I had with Irv I said Man I only ask for three things (1) I want to pick the songs that go on my album (2) I want to be able to write on my album and (3) Im from the South and I gotta be able to incorporate my Southern influence in it. The first two were cool because that was what he was about, making his artists self-sufficient. The last one was where we clashed. Lloyd released one successful single, Southside, but his stint as a Murder Inc. soldier would be short lived. In order for me to be myself I had to pull away from them. In the end I had to step up and say Hey man, you guys helped me get my voice out to the world and I thank you for that but now I am so confident in myself that I know I can do this my way and with the help of my friends like Dallas and Jasper [Cameron] and Tricky [Stewart], I knew I could do it.
Once again Lloyd found himself at the starting line. Once again standing on the brink of stardom with no place to hang his hat.
Still, he didnt stop.
During his down time, Lloyd knew he had to stay in the loop so he recorded with other artists, among them 8 Ball and MJG, Young Jeezy, Lil Scrappy, Trillville, Roy Jones, Snoop Dogg, and Tango Redd. Then he ran into an old friend and together they mapped out a route that would lead Lloyd to the success he deserved. Jazze Pha has watched me throughout my career, says Lloyd of his new joint venture partner. I respect him as an artist and as a businessman and I have always wanted to work with him. And, as it turns out, Jazze wanted to work with Lloyd as well. But this time, Lloyd raised the stakes and proposed not just an artist deal with Jazze but a joint venture between his newly-formed Goldie Productions and Jazzes ShoNuff Records (already home to Ciara, Jody Breeze and Cherish). In all my previous situations, Lloyd explains, I really, really needed them because I wasnt established. This time, I have my own team. This is when I feel best about myself. I cant go to another persons party without bringing potato salad; otherwise, Im just hanging around feeding off somebody elses good fortune.
But now Lloyd, still young at 20, is the fortunate one. With Jazze Pha planted firmly in his corner and a list of hot producers in his pit crew, Lloyd is ready once again to put the pedal to the metal. His new single, the infectious radio-friendly smash You, is a groovy mid-tempo that features interpolations of Spandau Ballets True. The rest of the album is a healthy blend of old school flavor, flawless vocals and stellar production by Big Reese (Mariah Carey, Tango Redd, Young Jeezy), Jasper Cameron (Nelly, Christina Aguilera, Monica ), J-Lack, and none other than Jazze Phizzle himself. This album has an older feel than before, Lloyd notes. It shows that Im still growing and still learning. This album creates a complete thought; everything complements what comes before and what comes after, just like everyday life. There are no sentence fragments.
Lloyd takes chances vocally on each song: whether its spewing sexy flavor on Certified, capturing the intensity of Michael Jackson on Eerthing or delivering an edgy ode to a girl named Hazel in a voice that flows effortlessly over a fluid, rhythmic track, Lloyd is full of pleasant surprises. Im a very out-of-the-box kind of person. If youre inside the box, youre a square. And the beat goes on with the tender Like About You, and the incredibly innovative Project Window Fan, a song that conveys love at its purest, simplest, ghetto-fabulous best. On Other Side, Lloyd compares his lust for a special girl to taking a ride in his classic Chevy. And then theres Valentine, a song with a classic feel and a hook so infectious listeners will swear theyve heard this song all their lives.
Lloyd soars on this set, which he says represents some of the best music Ive made in my life. And hes looking like a true champion, driving his career with the same precision and the same sense of direction as he did when he first started. Ive started from scratch and built it back up from the foundation and Im the foundation. Im the engineer of this, he says. And Im only ten percent of the way. Theres a long way for me to go before Im satisfied.
For Lloyd, everyday is a new day at the starting line and every time he revs his engine he knows that the industry is going to take notice. Once again Lloyd is in the behind the wheel, navigating the dicey turns and averting the potholes with all the skill and finesse of a far more seasoned driver.
The music plays. Lloyd keeps driving. And it dont stop.