He’s the Grammy nominated writer responsible for Usher’s ‘Climax’, Rihanna‘s ‘No Love Allowed’ and Keyshia Cole‘s ‘Enough Of No Love’.
Now, with the backing of Def Jam Recordings, Roc Nation and a fan base aptly named ‘The Eligiance‘, Elijah Blake steps into the light with the release of the hotly anticipated EP, ‘Bijoux 22‘.Array
So, as long time fans of his work, That Grape Juice were honored to catch up with the rising star last week- for an interview which saw him discuss the NO ID pushed EP, his journey to the top and his work for Ciara, Keyshia Cole and the Pop Icon, Britney Spears.
David: Mr Blake! How’ve you been keeping?
Elijah: Man I can’t complain, sun is shining in LA in the winter. You couldn’t ask for more.
David: Sweet, so for those who don’t know, how did you get your start in the industry?
Elijah: It was a blessing man. An exec found some of my original songs online and flew me out to meet.. Started working on my album while learning to write for others and it was off to the races from there First song I ever wrote with and for another major artist was “Jupiter Love” for Trey Songz.
David: Wow, congratulations on that. So, you recently signed with both Roc Nation and Def Jam, how did that connection come about and what’s the ‘ROC’ experience been like so far?
Elijah: After working with Usher most of our sessions would turn into sheds where we basically put each other up on new interesting styles . He’s a great teacher so I grew so much artistically I wanted to just do a mixtape to represent that. Industry A&R’s heard about it asked to hear it and kinda stressed that I shouldn’t give it away for free. The next day the first record deal offer was in and others followed, but at the last minute No ID heard the music and told me “this is special and should be treated as such”.
He had a plan and vision and knew how to take it to the next level so I trusted him and went with Def Jam. Roc Nation heard the songs and knew how to execute the vision so we thought it be a dope fit. It’s actually turning out even better than one could imagine .
It’s more like a musically partnership rather than being manufactured and turned into something I’m not. I’ve got an amazing team. I mean come on (laughs) they manage Rihanna.
David: One of the best out there today.
David: As far as crafting ‘Bijoux’ went, how hands on was Jay Z?
Elijah: One thing I can honestly say is him , Jay Brown , and Ty are one entity as a business.. No one moves without the other knowing or having a say so so In my opinion Everyone has their input but they don’t suffocate.
I recently got to talk to him more after the Rihanna show in NY and he’s hearing the direction me and No ID are going musically and I take it he’s pleased cause I’m sure he would have said if it was otherwise (laughs). As a team they’re very hands on, but off course it would be unrealistic of me though to expect him to show up to every session or photo shoot.
He’s the busiest rapper on Earth. I look at him as the guy who gets involved when its crunch time.
David: It’s interesting because we first caught wind of you through Keyshia Cole, around the time she released ‘Enough Of No Love‘- which you wrote. How did you get involved with ‘Woman To Woman’ album?
Elijah: Keyshia’s the best man. I had some songs her label was in love with even before she started working on the album so they were trying to set it up for a while, and once we got together the music just solidified this was a creative space that we had to move forward with.
David: Did your work for her influence what you did on ‘Bijoux’?
Elijah: Oh yeah, for sure. I feel like I’ve tapped into MY sound and there’s a major difference from what I will sing as opposed to what write for other artists.
Some singer/Songwriters never find that space but with the help of NO ID who’s accomplished that over and over with Kanye, I feel I’ve got my own lane now still along the roads of progressive Hip Hop/RNB.
We did the album first, established the first second and third single and after that he said ‘Ok, now you can have fun’. I’ll play you something before we go, but you’ll hear that the album is more commercial and more storyline based while the EP is more experimental and less commercial but has songs on there that really have a strong identity. I mean, they’re less structured really just more about feeling and vibe, while the album has radio records and the hits.
David: So… ‘Unapologetic’.
Elijah: (Laughs) ‘Unapologetic’.
David: That album surprised us, because we were expecting another ‘Talk That Talk’, but she gave something completely different.
Elijah: I know right?! It’s really a solid piece of work. First of all, just working with Rihanna was a blessing because she’s one of the kindest people I’ve met, if not the kindest- and then as far as the music goes…it’s the most honest album she’s done. We went for a sound that describes where she is creatively and emotionally. Everything she says on it comes from her life.
The things she’s singing about are things she’s really going through and you can hear it in her voice.
I gotta give Rih credit. I loved it when I sang it but she made it her own. Sometimes you’ll write a song for someone and they sing it but don’t necessarily own it. David, when I tell you she owned dat thang (laughs).
Elijah: She told me afterwards at the release party how much she appreciated it. So I was all smiles lol she said “You’re F*ckin Sick! I love your mind!” She’s such a rockstar.
David: Sick, you think you guys will work together again?
Elijah: Oh yeah, we talked about gettin back in & working together soon so expect another collabo !
David: Sweet. People won’t know this now but they will when we put this out…you’re working on the new Britney album.
David: Congratulations, that’s seriously epic. Being renown for your work with Urban acts, how much of that sound can we expect to hear on the project.
Elijah: I think her fans will be surprised by it. I would say its definitely the ‘unexpected’ Britney in so many ways, in that she’s playing with new textures and stomping on new grounds and genres.
It’s still shaping up so I wouldn’t wanna say too much, but I do wanna offer up some new melodic rhythms and flow to the top line. From talking to her she’s definitely trying to push the envelope this time- and really talk from a more personal point of view and with Rodney Jerkins by her side I’m hella excited. You’re talking about Darkchild, the guy who changes music over and over again and never runs out of ideas.
This album is gonna be crazy! I write from a more cerebral place I would say. My lyrics are more like a conversation or a thought process, I want people to hear my songs and think honesty.. I’d love to share that with her as well. She’s so cool and down to earth and she gives off so much confidence that writing with her is easy.
David: You’re killing it man.
Elijah: Appreciate that, I just feel really blessed. All of this has been a blessing.
David: Definitely. Another album you’ve had a hand in crafting is Ciara‘s ‘One Woman Army‘- can you tell us anything about what we can expect from that?
Elijah: With Ci, we just had fun. Either Soundz or Tricky would start the track or idea and we did what felt good and she would come in and bring it to life…cause we all know shawdy can turn up! That’s like fam now. We had some great talks aside from music and I feel her heart. You look at a chick that beautiful and you just think wow but if people only knew how much of a thinker she is and how hard she works.
I was telling you earlier about how she and Keyshia are similar. They paint this hard tough cold image of her but she’s the most caring person I know. Only thing I think she’s guilty of is caring too much at times.
David: In closing, what can we expect from Elijah Blake in the coming year?
Elijah: You can expect the first single to be out in January. The Album, full out performances in regards to choreography, vocals at my shows and songs that articulate what us dudes wanna say but sometimes don’t get the chance to, and even bigger hits for your favorite artists.
David: And finally, if you could sell yourself in three words….
Elijah: Ahhh lemme think. Alright- Young, Soulful and a Hardworker.
David: Thanks for us speaking to us bro.
Elijah: Anytime, I’ve been reading the site for years so it’s great to finally be on it.
Want more from Elijah? Follow him on Twitter here!