It’s the weekend of the 9th Annual OVO Festival hosted by Drake, and R&B artist Lloyd is in Toronto to perform center stage. It’s a busy weekend in Toronto, as the city is also set to host Veld Music Festival and Toronto’s Caribbean Festival, Caribana. “The girls in the lobby here are flying in from all over. I just met a girl that flew in from St. Louis and she’s got her carnival gear. She don’t have an ounce of West Indian in her blood but she just wants to participate and feel that energy,” Lloyd reflects, shortly after arriving to his hotel. “My girl is Trini’, so I grew up in a carnival rich household the past few years. My kids, they’re West Indian so it’s dope for me to be able to see that for the first time,” he explains.
The legendary R&B singer notes that OVO Festival has built up a great reputation over the past few years. “It’s OVO Fest,” he relays, “It’s by far the dopest concert I’ve been a part of in Canada, so that’s exciting.” Unfortunately, Lloyd knows that this is technically the last stop of what’s been the Millennium Tour, and with OVO Fest possibly being the last show. He shares, “This is probably the most bittersweet concert for me, of the tour.”
Lloyd’s journey towards becoming a legacy act among other R&B icons did not happen overnight, but rather started at a young age when Lloyd joined Atlanta R&B group, N-Toon. Discussing his early days in the group, he calls it the introduction. “I mean, some people go to college, you know. I started off as a professional at a young age and that was my schooling, watching these people. Whether it was Dallas Austin producing, or it was Jheryl Busby running the label as one of the only black music executives at the time. Denise Brown, who signed me to my deal, was the only African American president of a label at Warner Brothers at the time, and just being in the presence of these people was like the greatest education for me. So that was really what made me,” he confirms. Lloyd says that the experience being part of a R&B group as a child also forced him to learn how to control his craft and his voice. He adds, “Breaking down as a kid, you know, when people told me it wasn’t good enough and getting that sensitivity out of my blood. So now when I attack art I go into it with a lot of strength instead of insecurity.”
Another big part of Lloyd’s maturation came from the guidance of businessman and basketball hall-of-famer, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Lloyd describes, “He signed me to my first solo recording deal when I was 15 and I actually wrote some of the songs that made my Southside album when I was with Magic.” The two songs he refers to are “Southside” and his 2004 release “Hey Young Girl.” Lloyd also reflects back to the time that Magic took him to his first Lakers game, and explains, “He gave me my first courtside experience during the Shaq and Kobe era, and it kind of made me a lifelong Lakers fan. He would call my grandma up on the phone just to speak to her, say, ‘Hi, how you doing Miss Rose? Hope you’re having a good day. I’m out here with your grandson, and we doing it.’ And she would love it. It was like the highlight of her life before she passed.”
As a result of being around a strong businessman like Magic Johnson, Lloyd says that he also learned the value of ownership. “His whole philosophy is ownership, working for yourself and letting your money work for you. To be able to be around that, at that young of a age, was amazing.”
The conversation turns to his recent LP, TRU. At the end of Lloyd’s highly successful “Caramel” music video featuring City Girls, a 62-year-old fan suggests that the artist made his next project with an acoustic guitar. Lloyd explains that he enjoys the clip, because he was already working on an acoustic guitar project. “I’ve been working on an acoustic project for some time, probably since I collaborated with Childish Gambino on a track called, “Oakland.” TRU was in that same process, so maybe I’ll take it all the way there. But it’s just part of me that really loves the bottom, you know? I really love the bass.”
With the question of when we’ll get new music, Lloyd concludes by saying, “TRU came out when my son turned one, around that time, a little bit after. So maybe when my daughter turns one I’ll consider putting some more stuff out, but right now man, I’m just enjoying fatherhood.”
Listen to Lloyd’s LP, TRU below via Spotify.