Singer/songwriter Lyfe Jennings is now in a good place. He says his fifth recording “Lucid,” comes from that more positive outlook.
“Lucid” Is clarity. I’m sure it’s no secret; I had a lot of ups and downs,” Lyfe told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “I got incarcerated again. I had a little situation but that was the last time. That’s why the album is called ‘Lucid’ because now I always think ‘What do I want to get out of this situation?’ So many times we just act instead of react, instead of thinking ‘What do I want to get out of this situation’ and then act. “
Jennings, now 40, is a Cleveland native who came to the attention of the public through several winning appearances at the Apollo talent competition. That earned him a record deal soon after he was released from prison after serving ten years for arson. His first album title, “268-192,” was taken from his inmate number. Propelled by his hit single “Must Be Nice” and his electrifying stage shows, Jennings became a star.
But an altercation with his children’s mother, Joy Bounds, led to a police chase and sent Jennings back to jail in 2010 to serve two more years. But he remains painfully honest in his music. He has a song called “I Wish” where he admits that he wishes a former love would “get hit by a truck.” Maybe this whole positive outlook thing needs some work?
Not so, Lyfe says. He’s just expressing the raw feelings of someone dealing with a breakup.
“A lot of times when you break up we say the politically correct thing ‘I want you to be happy, I hope your kids grow up to look just like you’ – that ain’t what you mean. You want all those warnings you told them to really happen so you can say ‘I told you so.’
But there are more conciliatory songs on the new CD, like “I Am” which acknowledges that a new outlook can change a life, even one that has spiraled out of control.
“When I do an album, I want to touch on every emotion. Not just the good stuff because listen, good stuff doesn’t happen all the time. And if we don’t address the bad stuff, we don’t know what we’ve got to work on.” Lyfe said that he did write while in jail. “That’s all we had to do, besides cutting people’s grass,” he says. “They had you on hard labor. You come out buff.”
On his song “Like College” Jennings deals with relationships as learning experiences and dishes out some worthwhile advice. “A woman is changing every day. You have to treat her like college. Study, learn her every day. I learned a lot in prison,” he laughs.
Did his celebrity allow him any favorable treatment when he was incarcerated? Quite the opposite, Jennings says.
“I was locked down 23 hours a day. But some people tried to treat me worse. I guess they felt like ‘Wow, you had all of this.’ Some cats were doing all this time and they had no other means to get by. You had an opportunity. We’re going to drag you until the sparks come off you.”
With a renewed opportunity to make music and a now second chance to become a better man, partner and father, Jennings says he hopes to make the best of it all.
“You are going to create something in your life whether it’s good, bad or in the middle,” he says. “So why not create something positive? Why dwell on ‘She did that’ or ‘He did this’ or this went wrong. Why dwell on that and create more on that by focusing on that. Why not dwell on what you want to come out of the situation?’