UrbanAsian had a chance to sit down with Grammy-nominated songwriter Jack Knight to tell us about how he got into becoming a lyricist. Straight out of Brooklyn, New York, Jack Knight is a songwriter and producer very well known in the hip-hop and R&B game. He first hit the scene in 1998, when his voice drops were heard on Monifah’s hit single, “Touch It”. After signing with Def Jam Recordings in 1995, Knight got a chance to work with some very prominent names in the industry. His discography credits include the likes of Diddy, Notorious B.I.G, Jennifer Lopez, Keyshia Cole, Mario Winans, and many more artists. In 1997, Knight signed on to Diddy’s publishing compnay and became the first songwriter to do so. Writing songs is his passion, and he prefers it over producing any day of the week. In 2006, his book, The Art of Writing A Hit Song: The Urban Experience hit the shelves. He has a very in-depth take on the music industry and provides unique insight. He was nice enough to sit down with me and answer some questions.
Najeeb: You’ve worked with the likes of Usher, Notorious B.I.G, Diddy, Christina Aguilera, and Jennifer Lopez. Who was your favorite artist to work with and why?
Jack Knight: I think Diddy and Jennifer have been my favorite artists to work with. With all the success that they had up until that point the work ethic remained never ending, and despite what most people assume, they are very humble and high energy in the studio.
Najeeb: Who are some of the artists that influence your writing style?
Jack Knight: I think presently its drake. his style is simple yet deadly. he uses real life situations and puts in a poetic form. In the past its has been Fleetwoodmac, The Carpenters, Carole King, Billy Joel, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, and the Bee Gee’s.
Najeeb: What’s your favorite album of all-time and why?
Jack Knight: I would say its a toss up between Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Michael Jacksons “Off the Wall” album. Also I love Marvin Gaye’s “Whats Going On” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It’s hard to pick I Love the
Jack Knight: I want to hear what Bruno Mars does over his next few albums, I would also love to see how Jay Sean evolves . I love M.I.A and want to hear more from her. I really like Chris Brown, Drake, and few other poeple that I feel could evolve into elite singer songwriters of our time.
Najeeb: What are you currently listening to in your iPod?
Jack Knight: I find myself listening to alot of classical music. Mozart , Beethoven , Jazz Miles Davis, Johnny Coltrane , Charlie Parker and alot of classic rock. On the rap hip-hop side I been listening to Rick Ross, Ghostface. On the pop side I got, Jason Derulo, Bruno Mars, Ke$ha, Katy Perry just to name a few.
Najeeb: The community you were brought up in as a child, how much does it influence your work today?
Jack Knight: I was brought up in a very afro-centric community , and I was very influenced by the Islamic culture in dress , music, and food. Brooklyn is a melting pot of all different cultures; Jewish, Indian, Latin, Carribean etc. Depending on what day it is , you may hear the music playing from several different cultural influences in the Brooklyn streets ofNew York. I think my upbringing influences my writing and the subject matters that I write about. I travelled the world and I was brought up in a diverse community, so my lyrics have a colorful palette of influences.
Najeeb: If you weren’t able to work with music on a daily basis, whether it be writing, producing, or publishing, what would you be doing?
Jack Knight: Producing a record to me is fun, because you act as a director of a movie. Publishing can be fun because of the money generated and discovering new talent, but songwriting is my first love. Having the ability to channel your emotion through words is a the greatest thing.
Najeeb: Song-writing or recording?
Jack Knight: Songwriting hands down. recording has no emotion in it . Unless its maybe being a great vocalist
Najeeb: Out of all you’re projects, if you were to choose one to describe yourself,as far as style and what you’re all about, which one would it be and why?
Jack Knight: Persistence + Talent + Desire x Luck = Success in any area. Every formula for success requires getting better at your craft. 99% of the time right before u decide to quit is when you get a breakthrough. One things is always maintain a balance in your life between family, friends, and relationships. Those things can make or break your dreams as well.
Will we see this Academy Award Winning Song writer Collaborate with the Asian Scene soon? Find out and Keep it LOCKED on Urbanasian!