Get ready. Singer/songwriter Lloyd is staging a rebellion—a musical one, that is.
The seductive tenor powering such hits as “You,” “Get It Shawty” and “Southside” is plotting to take control as the “King of Hearts.” The winter 2010 release not only marks his first album in partnership with award-winning producer Polow Da Don’s Interscope-distributed Zone 4 Records, it also signals a personal rebirth for the multi-talented artist.
That’s indeed what fans are asking as they fast-track Lloyd’s new single, “Lay It Down” (Young-Goldie/Zone 4/Interscope) to the top of Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop charts. Powering its ascent: a throbbing bass and drum beat—set off by slow jam synths—and further accentuated by a newfound, commanding urgency in Lloyd’s persuasive and smooth vocals.
“Lay It Down” is just the first taste of what’s to come from Lloyd’s fourth studio album. Adding to the heat factor is the 50 Cent assisted “Let’s Get It In,” a track about making the most out of a moment at hand. “Wish I had time to get to know you but I don’t,” Lloyd croons distinctively. “Wish I could be here in the morning but I won’t. So let’s get it in.” The singer further ramps up the romance and energy on “Have a Drink,” the track which truly expresses the theme of the album is jumpstarted by cymbals and a memorable opening line: “Tonight starts the first day of the rest of your life.” A more personal side of the singer emerges on the soul-baring “Since You Left Me.” Introduced by the sound of a heartbeat, the think-twice ballad tells the story of a woman who doesn’t realize what a good man she had until he’s gone.
That lifestyle, biographical vibe—coupled with a newfound energy, added maturity and vocal boldness—is the hallmark of “King of Hearts,” which features collaborations between Lloyd and such writer/producers as Awesome Jones!!!, Timbaland, Pharell, Ester Dean, Ryan Lovett, Jerry Wonder and Jim Jonsin. The album is executive produced by hitmaker and Zone 4 principal Polow Da Don (Keri Hilson, Chris Brown, Usher) along with manager/executive Henry “Noonie” Lee (Ciara, Jeezy, Jazze Pha), and Lloyd himself. In fact, “King of Hearts” fully establishes the creative bond that Lloyd and Polow forged in 2008 when the pair worked together on several tracks, including “Party All Over Your Body,” for the singer’s 2008 third album, “Lessons in Love.”
“I’m a believer in destiny,” says Lloyd. “I needed someone who would push me; make me give my all. That’s exactly what I was missing.” The result, he adds, is bolder music; it’s real music that affects real people.
Lloyd’s push beyond his comfort zone also extended to a change in scenery. Instead of recording again in his hometown of Atlanta, the singer relocated to Los Angeles to work on the new album. He also attributes part of his revitalized sound to the new energy he felt after cutting and donating his hair to Locks of Love. The non-profit organization provides hairpieces for children under 18 with medical conditions.
“It was all part of letting the old energy go,” explains Lloyd, “and being part of something bigger than you.”
Lloyd released three albums beginning with his 2004 debut, “Southside.” Peaking at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 11 on the Billboard 200, the set scored a top 20 hit with the title track featuring Ashanti. Lloyd earned his first gold album with 2007’s “Street Love” (No. 2 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums; No. 2 on the Billboard 200). The set also gave the singer his first No. 1 R&B/hip-hop single with “You” featuring Lil Wayne, which also went top 10 on the Hot 100. That was followed by second single “Get It Shawty,” which netted No. 4 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart and No. 16 on the Hot 100. Third album, 2008’s “Lessons in Love,” found Lloyd and Lil Wayne rekindling their magic on the top 20 hit “Girls Around the World.” The album itself peaked at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 7 on the Billboard 200. Before “Lay It Down” began its ascent this summer, Lloyd added a No. 2 pop/R&B crossover hit to his belt earlier this year as the featured guest on Young Money’s “Bedrock.”
Lloyd’s musical influences stem from his parents who met while attending Xavier University in Louisiana. His Mother and Father sang in the choir at their Baptist church in New Orleans where Lloyd’s father eventually became the Choir Director. The excitement was so intense from the community to hear Lloyd Polite Sr. sing, he was able to walk into any Baptist Church in New Orleans, was known, welcomed, and loved. Lloyd was only 2 years old when he tragically lost his father who was killed in a violent shooting in New Orleans’ infamous Calliope Projects. Not long after, his mother moved her young family to Atlanta where Lloyd would begin to follow in his father’s musical footsteps by enrolling in performing arts school. In 2005, his family lost nearly all of their family photos during Hurricane Katrina, including the few remaining photos of his late father. Lloyd’s only keepsake is the portrait of his father that is tattooed on his left arm. It serves as a constant source of inspiration for Lloyd, keeping him grounded and reminding him that family comes first.
A veteran of the music industry at only 24, a now a revitalized Lloyd is taking his career to the next level, ready to conquer the charts—and win over new fans—with “King of Hearts.” Notes Lloyd, “My fans deserve to see the best me possible. I consider this a complete rebirth in every sense of the word … my chance to come out for the first time again. And it feels real good.”