R&B singer Jaheim has always balanced the hard with the soft. Open about his rough upbringing, he’s cultivated his street roots with albums like Ghetto Love and Still Ghetto. Yet like his hero Luther Vandross, he sings with sweet vulnerability, using his raw lyrics and virtuosic croon to reflect on the challenges of keeping it together and holding loved ones close. Born Jaheim Hoagland in May 1978, he grew up in the Memorial Homes housing projects of New Brunswick, NJ. Both of his parents died when he was young, and he spent his teenage years roaming the streets with gangsters and hustlers. But he was always passionate about singing, and he got his big break in the early 2000s when DJ Kay Gee of Naughty By Nature signed Jaheim to his Warner Bros.-affiliated imprint, Divine Mill. On his biggest early hits, such as 2002’s “Put That Woman First,” Jaheim channels the charisma and hooks of an older R&B generation while looking forward with trunk-rattling hip-hop production. He continued to drop well-received albums throughout the 2000s and 2010s, and later-career jams like the title track to 2016’s Struggle Love show him with a stronger, more seasoned vocal command in the vein of Teddy Pendergrass, his delivery bold like a fine wine.
HOMETOWNNew Brunswick, NJ
BORNMay 26, 1978