Article Date: Feb 17, 2015
Author: Aaron B. Jackson
Jerome J-Roc Harmon is a superstar producer from Fort Worth, Texas. J-Roc has worked with Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, and Jay-Z, as well as countless collaborations with Timbaland. At the 2014 Grammy Awards, J-Roc was a Grammy recipient for Best R&B Song as a result of his work on Timberlake’s Pusher Love Girl. His latest project is the posthumous Michael Jackson release Xscape, an album that features six songs produced by J-Roc. Writer Aaron Jackson caught up with J-Roc to discuss the Michael Jackson project, his Country-Western roots, and moonwalking.
AJ: How did the Michael Jackson project come about?
J-Roc: We were asked to work on the project by L.A. Reid, he had contacted us about doing some things for Mike. Originally we thought it was going to be some remakes and we were cool with doing that, but then we found out it was going to be original stuff.
AJ: How many tracks did you produce?
J-Roc: Six cuts on the album.
AJ: Love Never Felt So Good is the first track released off the album, can you discuss what sound you were going for and how the song came together?
J-Roc: Well, I mean when I first heard it, it sounded so laid back, it was more laid back than I ever heard Mike sing. The more and more I heard it, I just started going back to Off the Wall, that sound that Quincy was experimenting with at the time. His voice reminded me of that Off the Wall era. Adding Justin (Timberlake) didn’t hurt at all, putting him on the track just made sense.
AJ: How big an influence has Quincy Jones been on you and your music?
J-Roc: I could go back to just his own albums, oh man, Patti Austin, James Ingram, when Stevie was working with him, I could go on and on. Quincy, production wise, was that sound.
AJ: How did your background in gospel music help you on this project?
J-Roc: Well, I don’t know if it necessarily helped, Gospel is an influence for our culture period. For black artists, that is where we honed our skills, in the church. That was like the practice audience. That was where you practiced your skills in front of a live audience and they let you know if you did good, or they would pat you on the back and let you know you’ll do better next time. I was really influenced by my parents who listened to doo-wop, and Country-Western was a real influence.
AJ: Really? Country-Western?
J-Roc: Yeah man, my Dad was a truck driver in West Texas so Country-Western was always around, it was a very strong influence.
AJ: What is your favorite track on the album?
J-Roc: It depends on what day of the week that is, there are six days not counting Sunday. I am swinging heavy to Do You Know Where Your Children Are, I feel it really is indicative of who Michael was, his passion, the heavy influence of pop and rock and R&B all balled into one. Truthfully, all of them are my favorite, its like trying to pick your favorite kid. You can’t pick your favorite kid.
AJ: Thinking back, and this is difficult, what is your favorite Michael era of all-time?
J-Roc: The Thriller era. It would be Thriller number one, Off the Wall 1.5.
AJ: Also a tough question, what is the most slept on Michael track? (I think its Butterflies)
J-Roc: To me, I would say It’s the Falling in Love with Patti Austin. You remember that track? (J-Roc sings a few lyrics) Now you remember don’t you?