As one of the most underrated R&B artists in the game, Vedo has demonstrated talent and tenacity since his debut EP 93 back in 2015. The Benton Harbor, Michigan-born and Atlanta-residing artist has unapologetically been bringing back R&B soul music with a contemporary flair that we didn’t know we needed. And his most recent studio album, 1320, Vedo hasn’t delivered anything less.
The album title marks two significant points in Vedo’s life. In 2013, he lost his mother to lung cancer, which he told ESSENCE was the “lowest I had been in my entire life.” Seven years later, in 2020, Vedo’s daughter Kayden was born which he said helped him “come out of that dark place.”
Speaking on the years following his mother’s death he said, “I just didn’t really care about anything. I was lost, dark, scared, scarred. It was all of the above. All the while, I’m still in love with music, but it’s hard to love something while you’re going through something so tragic.”
The birth of his now one-year-old daughter helped to relieve some of that pain. “I still was feeling a little bit of PTSD from that traumatic event that happened but having her kind of lifted that burden,” he shared. “I felt needed; I felt loved, an unconditional love.”
Expounding on that feeling, Vedo added, “You don’t really know unconditional love until you have a little one. They love you no matter what,” he gushed about his love for and from Kayden. His inspiration stemmed from an amalgamation of experiences throughout the seven-year span and topped it off with a cherry with his daughter’s birth. While some fans question why he may not have a song dedicated to Kayden on the actual album, Vedo explained that the inspiration is throughout the project and not just put into one single track. “Don’t get me wrong. She was [the] inspiration to be passionate again, to put the soul back into the music. She was the inspiration to love music the way I love music before anything.”
Like most working fathers, balancing fatherhood and his successful career isn’t an easy thing to do. “You just got to make it happen, man,” Vedo said stressfully but proudly. He tries to pose it as though he’s gone because he loves his daughter and wants to provide nothing but the best for her. “I’m on the road because I love you and I want you to not want for anything, okay? I can’t be here all the time because then I won’t be able to provide for you. I won’t be able to work,” the singer explained. He keeps open and honest communication with his manager about his touring schedule whether it be doing shows all month or taking off two weeks to spend time with his family.
Vedo admits that he has to see his daughter at least once before a performance or else he doesn’t “perform the same,” whether it’s through FaceTime or in real life. Balance is of the utmost importance to the “Add To You” singer and for him, there’s no excuse, rhyme or reason as to why he cannot make time to be in his little one’s life. “I don’t care how hard your job is, how strenuous your job is, you have to make a habit to be a part of her development [and] her upbringing. You have to make it or it’s unacceptable,” he said to ESSENCE passionately. “That’s why I never really understood why people just are okay with not being in their child’s life.”
For his fifth studio album, Vedo spared no collaboration and included names such as Jacquees, Eric Bellinger, Lloyd, and Erica Banks. “I had heard that Lloyd was kind of just taking a break from music so for him to even consider getting on this record with me was monumental,” Vedo said excitedly. Though all of his songs on 1320 mean the world to him, Vedo told ESSENCE all about his favorite collaborations throughout the studio album including “Juicy” featuring Ari Lennox. “It wasn’t supposed to be my song. I actually did wrote it for her album, but it ended up being a cut on my album,” he revealed. While speaking with his producer Jay White, he encouraged Vedo to keep the record and called in an “executive play” to Ari herself.
The “Pressure” singer, who Vedo described as “super sweet,” was cool with the idea of transferring ownership and was even happy to lay a verse on the song. Unbeknownst to him, Lennox had already heard “You Got It” and was a fan of Vedo’s music. “She was already a fan of the record and a fan of the music, which I didn’t know. I had no idea because when I go in and write for people, I don’t really like to measure what I’ve done [or] what this person has done. We’re here for one reason—that’s to make a song,” he said humbly.
Speaking of songs, with Vedo’s viral “You Got It” hit from his fourth album For You going RIAA Platinum Certified just months after receiving an RIAA Gold Certification, the emotional and lyrical impact of the track does not go unnoticed. While recording in his home studio, Vedo wanted to go into this song as though it was a conversation with the women listening to his music. As opposed to speaking to women in a hypersexualized tone or speaking to his male audiences directly about women, he wanted to flip the script and challenge his female listeners to take their power back.
It’s time to boss up
Fix ya credit, girl get at it
Get ya bag up
Hit that gym and get back fine
Go get that degree, go girl
“I felt like no R&B artist—or no artist at all—was really having that motivational conversation with women. You always see male speakers speaking to young men who just started a business. You never see anybody really taking the time out to say, ‘Hey sweetheart, listen, go back to school, get that degree, boss up. Hey, start your business.’ You don’t hear a male say that on the daily. If they do say it, it’s behind closed doors. They don’t want to say it in public,” Vedo explained. “I want to see y’all winning.”
In an effort to show women that he’s not only a supporter but an ally of Black women’s ownership and empowerment, Vedo did not spare the lyrical rod when it came to telling his listeners what they needed to hear. “It hits different when it’s coming from a man. I just felt like, y’all weren’t getting your flowers enough. It’s time to boss up. It’s been waiting way too long,” he said. “At the end of the day, just got to say what it is. I ain’t going to beat around the bush.”