[Exclusive Interview] Jaicko Lawrence Discusses Working on J-Hope's "Safety Zone," New Music, His Impact in the Kpop Industry, and More

Jaicko Lawrence is a multi-platinum & Billboard #1 singer/songwriter/producer and he is known for hits such as "Oh Yeah!" and "Perfect." Jaicko has worked with amazing artists such as Snoop Dogg, Akon, Jay Sean, and more. However, a certain fandom was excited about Jaicko's recent collaboration with an idol from their favorite Kpop group. Namely, Jaicko was discovered on social media by ARMY as the one with the silky-smooth vocals on J-Hope's "Safety Zone."

To learn more about this special collab, KpopWise spent some time catching up with Jaicko about his work on J-Hope's "Safety Zone"  and his work in the Kpop industry. Check out our conversion with Jaicko below!

KW: How did you get into the music industry?


Good question. I come from a musical family. My dad's side of the family, particularly, is mostly involved in music. My dad is a musician. He came to Barbados at a young age. He was born in Guyana, South America, and his way of making it was through music and playing the bass guitar. Eventually, he ended up starting a band, and then after that, started several bands and just became a big name in Barbados. As his bands got more popular, they gained an international following, and every time they would have gigs here in Barbados, I would be the youngest kid in the clubs. My dad also had a rehearsal room at his house, in the basement, and I just grew up in the environment. So just as any child growing up seeing their dad or being in an environment, I guess it just kind of followed me. 


My dad saw something in me at a very young age, I would say maybe about seven years old, so I started taking piano lessons and by nine years old, I was in the studio recording. My dad really saw something and by the time I was 13 years old, I was traveling from Barbados to the West. I was going after record labels, I had demos, and we would go in the studio. By the time I was about 16/17 years old, I signed to Capitol Records in the US and I released my first single "Oh Yeah" toward the West and other parts of the world. I could go on and on about my family's history and my indoctrination into the music realm, but it came pretty naturally because I started pretty young.

KW: How would you describe the music that you typically create?


Genre-wise...I hate genres by the way. I hate how there's genres because...put it this way...I am from Barbados. I am from the Caribbean. I have influences like Reggae and Soca, but then I love R&B, and Hip-Hop. So style-wise, I kind of encompass all of those influences. It forms myself. My heart, though, is to share what's in my heart. In 2014, I became a born-again Christian, and ever since then, it has been my purpose to allow the Lord to fuel me and to just make songs that are true, that speak of my relationship with the Lord, and songs that kind of point back to the Lord. So I guess genre-wise, you might call that Christian. But again, my heart is to just reach the world through my gifts, so I feel like if you put it in one box, you miss some, and then you can put it in another box and miss the other. So I guess you can take from that whatever that means to you, but yeah that's it. I actually have a project coming out that's a joint project with a brother of mine called Kingservant and he's more Reggae/Dancehall and I'm more R&B/Hip-Hop, so what do you call that, right?


KW: You have collaborated with some amazing artists. What has been your favorite collaboration(s) thus far? 


That's a tough question because I feel like the majority of the stuff that I've done for other artists, I didn't actually get the privilege of working with the artists in the studio. But to be quite honest, I really did enjoy what I did on "Safety Zone." Out of all the songs that I did, when they sent me that demo, I was like "This is right up my alley." I just remember having fun with it, so I guess if I'm speaking about how I feel right now, I'd say that would be one that I really enjoyed working on just from a musical perspective.

KW: You have also done some work with NCT 127, how did you get into the Korean music scene?


That's an interesting question because when I first heard about Kpop I was like "What is this?," but I couldn't figure out what it was, and then I started doing some research in 2015-2016 when Kpop still kind of remained out East. People had known about EXO because they were a really big band then. I think SHINee was also a big band then, but it still hadn't really leaked over into the western world, so what intrigued me about it the most was just the fact that these guys were making real music. Mind you, that was a time where Pop and R&B in the US and in the western world had kind of taken this mediocre kind of thing, sorry to say it. But as a creative, it felt more like this is what we're doing right now and there's no room for that type of music. When I heard these guys singing over chords that were like...again I'm a musician at heart...so when I hear these guys singing over these chords and I'm seeing producers like Harvey Mason Jr. who, for me, is like an amazing producer, one of my favorites, and Rodney Jerkins, and I'm seeing these guys making this music and I'm like "I want to tap into that." So I happened to be in the right realm. 


My manager at the time put me on to this guy by the name of Vakseen, and he just began to hook me up with all of his connects and me and my writing partner at the time, we formed a group called Formula 51. We started really going after Kpop because it was a genre of music that was so different to all the other things we have been doing and it gives you the opportunity to just express yourself musically. I was like "We just need to do this," and again it wasn't nearly as big as it is now. I just really loved it. So we ended up doing a bunch of demos and you could add it up from 2016 to 2022. And now, here we are. Also, I have to plug my writing partner, Demetri James. Him and I really came together and did some amazing stuff during that time. I cannot forget my brother.

KW: How did the collab come about with you and J-Hope for “Safety Zone” and what did that process look like? 


I have very few people in the music industry that I consider to be my real friends. My real brother, a guy by the name of August Rigo, who has done some amazing work in the Kpop realm and just in the world of music, I'm a big fan of his naturally. He's always been like a big brother of mine and a mentor of mine in music and also a guy by the name of Benji. These guys had the link to BigHit and they felt like I would be perfect doing this, so they they basically put me in play, and they sent me the demos like "You know J-Hope from BTS is looking for this type of record and I think you can get it done." 


They were the guys that believed that I can get it done and when they sent it to me, it was a no brainer. They sent it to me on Tuesday morning, and by Tuesday at 12 o'clock, it was done. Mind you, I probably had 10 other things to do that day, but I sent it right back to them and they're like "Oh my God! This is exactly what we want." It was just one of those moments that you can't pay for. It just happened.

KW: You have suddenly received a lot of love and support from the BTS ARMY. How did that feel to receive such a rush of people coming at you at once with so much love and support?


Wow. So first of all, I have to point this out because I understand what it's like to have lots of fans. Not because I feel as though I have all the fans in the world, but just from the perspective that I've seen it and these fans are usually like "We don't want anything but this. If it's not this, then we don't want it." They want to get to the guy that's closest to the guy, so that they can get to the guy. So for me, I was going into it expecting that maybe these people just love it because I'm the closest person that they might feel is closest to J-Hope


But, when I recognized that these people genuinely appreciated my contributions to this song, that really moved me to see that this guy's fans are not only just interested in that, but they are enveloped in the song and they've taken the time to appreciate the different aspects of it and out of it all, that is my takeaway from the whole thing. So, it's not just about J-Hope. It's the fact that my name is not even on the song, but they took the time to find out who it was, and it's just been so much love and appreciation from this whole new audience of people that I might have never known had I not done this. So definitely, ARMY...purple hearts...I really appreciate all of them for all of the genuine love and support. It's been overwhelming!

KW: Is there any Kpop group or artist that you haven’t worked with yet, but would like to work with in the future? 


Yeah, I co-produced this record with August Rigo for SHINee on Bad Love, the name of the song was "End of My World." As far as Kpop, if I had the opportunity, I'd like to write or produce for a female artist. I try my best to keep up, but as you know, it's hard because there's always another group. I like it. I would love to do some work with EXO because of their infamous nature. I would love to do some work with whoever. I'm down for whatever opportunity comes my way, I'd be grateful and take it.

KW: For people who have not heard your music before, could you recommend some of your songs for them to check out?


Definitely check out RizzleMinded. That is a project that I poured my heart and soul into. Definitely a lot of honesty on there. I tried my best to allow my creativity to peak on that record. I definitely share a lot about my testimony and my walk with the Lord. Definitely has an R&B vibe to it. Some tracks are just really cool to listen to, so if there were anything I would suggest if you want to get a good idea as to what I do...but then again that might not be a good thing because I'm always doing new and different things. But, I would say RizzleMinded would be the closest to current as far as things that you should definitely check out.

KW: What’s next for you?


Right now me and my brother, Kingservant, just formed this group called KingMinded Music Group. We basically are just going at it together on a few songs. We have a seven song EP coming out, although it might be more, I don't know. It's seven right now. We just finished shooting a video to our first single. It's called "The Border" and it's actually going to be dropping on August 12, 2022, so we're going to be dropping a single and a video together. We just want to come in and spread the message, hope, and love of Jesus through the art-form of music. I say art-form because I feel like we've really just allowed the Lord to use us in a space that is predominantly artsy, but our mission and focus is to spread the good news of the Gospel.

KW: Anything else you would like to share?


One thing I did notice from a lot of the ARMY was that a lot of them knew who I was from when I did my stuff with Capital Records. I just want to say that I appreciate the love and support and it seems as though a lot of them have been fans of mine for quite some time, so I guess this is my moment to say "Hey, what's up! I'm here again." Thank you for the love and support. I pray that what I have to say touches you and that it connects with you all and I will just keep on doing my best. I'm also working on a solo project that will follow the joint project that I'm doing with Kingservant. So definitely a lot of stuff on the way.


You can listen to Jaicko's soulful vocals on "Safety Zone" from J-Hope's Jack in the Box on Spotify


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