Jamie Foxx: proving himself a musician, one city at a time


Jamie Foxx, an actor and comedian before he became a musician, says he still struggles to be taken seriously for his music. Over the past decade, Foxx has cemented his status as a leading man, moving up from impressive supporting roles in Ali and Any Given Sunday. His breakthrough came in 2005, when he portrayed soul music great Ray Charles in the film Ray. The role earned Foxx an Academy Award for best actor.

But until "Blame It" - a single from last year's album Intuition - reached No. 1 on the urban mainstream chart, Foxx said he had yet to attain the stature of being a true player.

"You really now are in the forefront," Foxx said, summing up the impact of his hit single. "You're opening up the doors to the future because now everybody's going to chase 'Blame It,' and some are going to catch it and some are going to not catch it."

"Blame It" has also done more than any other song, Foxx said, to show that he has versatility as an R&B artist.

Foxx earned credentials as a balladeer on his second album, 1994's Unpredictable. (His first album, 1994's Peep This, was released well before he became a mainstream star, but enjoyed modest success, hitting No. 78 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.)

But with Intuition, Foxx said he wanted to stretch out stylistically, to show that he could also do up-tempo material, an ability he'd hinted at in his contribution to the Kanye West hit "Gold Digger."

To that end, the album, which includes collaborations with such notable artists as T.I., West, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Fabolous and T-Pain, has several tracks that push up the tempos and the energy, including "Blame It," "Just Like Me" and "I Don't Need It," to mix in with the ballads.

"When you think about it, traditional R&B is really on life support," Foxx said. "So for me to do a traditional R&B album [like Unpredictable], I may have been stuck in the mud. Luckily I have people like [A&R representative] Breyon Prescott, who works with me very closely on my music, and says if you do that type of music you want to do right now you're going to end up in the grocery bin with the nail clippers and the feather duster."

Foxx said what "Blame It" hasn't done yet is conclusively define him musically or demonstrated that he is as committed to building a music career as he has been to pursuing acting or comedy. But he thinks that his current 50-city tour in support of Intuition will help to make that case.

"I'm going to get on a bus and I'm going to go to every city and I'm going to sit down in there and have a beautiful time in music and really show people and take the time out to really establish myself musically," Foxx said. "I'm still a rookie. I'm still introducing people to my music. And so this will be that year that I define it."

Foxx, who also toured behind Unpredictable, said that, as on that tour, his current shows will continue to mix a bit of comedy into the program. But this time he will step things up musically.

"Well, in this show, it will be a little more music-driven, but definitely, there's got to be comic relief," Foxx said. "I mean, there's got to be at least one impersonation of Barack Obama. There are too many things I want to do, so we're going to squeeze everything we can into an hour and a half, and we're going to make it tight. It's going to keep moving. The music is going to move. And luckily this time we get a chance to go out when the music is really hot."