CD Release - J. Holiday: From headboards to Billboard

R&B balladeer puts charts to bed with debut

J. Holiday’s hit single “Bed” stands out in a season dominated by electro-pop throwbacks and snap-rap novelties. With his promises to “put you to bed” over a soft, pillow-humping percussive beat, it sounds ordinary in comparison.

A large portion of Holiday’s debut, Back of My Lac, seems to consist of the same kind of slow, lovemaking R&B ballads. Holiday insists, however, that there’s more to his album than what he calls “baby-makin’ music.” He points to the autobiographical “Back of My Lac” and “Thug Commandments,” where he offers advice to the African-American male community. “There are society-conscious songs, and songs about real life,” he says.

Holiday seems like an overnight success, but even overnight successes come from somewhere. A product of the church – his mother is a preacher – he first drew notice as a member of 215. Holiday moved from his native D.C. to Atlanta after Music Line Group CEO Anthony Tate plucked him out of the band and signed him to a deal in April 2005. He subsequently spent more than two years finishing a solo debut.

“I was actually on the road all last year, so that kept me busy along with being in the studio,” he says, noting that he opened for artists such as Keyshia Cole. “It was all just a timing thing. Obviously, I guess we picked good timing,” he says, laughing.

As of this writing, “Bed” sits at No. 6 on the Billboard singles chart, and his Back of My Lac album debuted at No. 5 on the album chart. But you’re more likely to find J. Holiday chilling at the homegrown soul spot Apache Cafe than hanging out in the VIP section at a mainstream club such as Motion or E.S.S.O. “I love going down to Mic Club Tuesdays,” he says, referring to the weekly hip-hop freestyle competition. “That’s what I’m saying. ... Listen deeper to the album, and you’ll hear the other influences.”

To sample a song from Back of My Lac, click here.