After taking the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in 2007 with his debut album, Back of My Lac’ and producing two chart-topping singles, J. Holiday thought he was well on his way to the top. But after taking his audience to Bed, it seems that’s where he’s stayed for the last two years; while the release of his sophomore album, Round 2, made its way to No. 2 on Billboard’s R&B chart, the project never reached the level of its predecessor.

Now, with a new label and new a mindset, the Washington D.C. soul singer is ready to regain control of his music and take responsibility for his disappointing last album. Shedding light on ways to make it in this industry and things new artists should not do, Holiday opened up to XXL.—Amber McKynzie

It’s been two years since your last album. Are there any projects you’re currently working on?

J. Holiday: I just put out a mixtape called M.I.A.: The Lost Pages to reintroduce myself after the label change and all that. People were wondering what’s going on with me so I put out the mixtape. We got a song on there called “Float Away,” that’s picking up a bit. [I’m] still working on the album. Back in [the studio] with [The-]Dream and [songwriter] Los [Da Mystro], so just tryna get this music to the people.

You mentioned a label change. What was the situation your last label home, Capitol?

Honestly, urban music is probably [some] of the hardest music to sell as far as the label standpoint. They just didn’t have the urban system. I definitely had some good times on Capitol, but you know the urban department just didn’t have it all the way right, so I just had to get somewhere where that knew Urban music and that could be that force behind me. Now I’m with Def Jam.

Why Def Jam and not another label?

We were looking at Def Jam and Interscope, but Def Jam has a little more when it comes to hip-hop. They definitely know what they’re doing over there, so I mean that’s just it — simple and plain.

Back of My Lac’ was a nice set up for you. So, what do you think happened to your momentum after that? You said there was label stuff, but was there anything going on personally to take you away for a while?

Every artist that comes out for the most part don’t really know what’s going on as far as how things work, what’s going on, who does what, what’s your responsibility and what’s not your responsibility. When it came to the second album I started taking a little more responsibility [with] what I wanted to do and the kind of music that I wanted to do. It’s always a battle of power, so it just came to a point of, Alright, well, we not gonna put nothing behind it. We just gonna let you bump your head.' I don’t know why they do that because if I lose, you lose, so it didn’t make any sense to me.