Coming up in an era when R&B was poetry for the soul, Richard Wingo ('Wingo' for short), along with Brian “Brasco” Casey, Brandon “Case Dinero” Casey and Kyle “Quick” Norman, formed Jagged Edge—a group that hit big with the release of their first album, A Jagged Era, in 1997. With singles like “I Gotta Be” and “Let's Get Married,” making women swoon, the four-man group topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and came in at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2000 with their sophomore LP, J.E. Heartbreak. But as the concept of R&B has readily changed through the years, and the Atlanta quartet released what seems to be their final album, The Remedy, almost a year ago to date.
As that thought lingers, Wingo has finally decided to embark on his anticipated solo career. While he admits nothing can compare to the feeling he gets performing on stage with Jagged Edge, he confesses that the group tossed around the idea of going their separate ways five years ago, after the release of the group’s 6th album, Baby Makin’ Project (2007). “I love my group, and I feel crazy when I’m on stage with them… but ultimately, we’ve been in this situation [for a while]…so we decided to move on and here we are,” says Wingo. “I really didn’t want to [go solo] early, but [they] soon kind of pushed me into the forefront and was like, ‘Wingo, they want to hear you! This is the feedback we’re getting from the fans. They want to hear more Wingo.” Taking the advice of his group members, the Georgia-bred artist celebrated the release of his first solo mixtape, Life Of The Party, this past May.
Playing off the release of his recent mixtape, Wingo is now in the studio piecing together his debut LP, The Party. “I wanted to name my album The Party, so I was like, I’ll give them a taste tester…[so] the name of the mixtape [was] called Life Of The Party,” says the Atlanta singer. And noting that he’s put together a number of records over the course of this year, Wingo has no intentions of letting any material sit on the shelf. “I’ve got tons of music that I recorded from here to overseas with people… I’ve done records with Midnight Black; I’ve done a lot of Jeezy stuff.” He continues, “I don’t want these records to go the waste. At the end of the day, I’m just putting [music] out. I want the feedback from my fans and from the DJs. I want them to pick [the singles]. I haven’t even picked the singles.” But while Wingo is taking the Kanye West route—letting fans decide the final album cuts—he’s making sure to stay true to his Southern roots, working on features with Atlanta artists such as Gucci Mane and Slim from 112. And like most musically creative spirits, Wingo is mum about the album’s release date. Not wanting to jinx the project or the fans’ reaction, he says, “I’m quiet as kept.”
As Wingo comes from a strong musical background, the theme of the up-and-coming LP is currently up in the air. Known for baby-making music with hits like “Put A Lil Umph In It” to love jones singles such as “Promise,” the Atlanta native is stumped when it comes to letting fans know what to look forward to on this project. “I’m a music lover,” says Wingo. “I’ve sung in the gospel choir since I was a child; I’ve learned to love all forms of music. I’m overseas so much…that sound is being driven into me. As far as the direction, one of the [Jagged Edge] twins suggested I should do almost like, uh “[A] Change [Is] Gonna Come.” You ever seen Seal doing “A Change Gonna Come” on TV, with a nice suit on? It’s just that image, just some real R&B, [and] a dope, contemporary type feel… [I want to] just give them what they love because that music right there is longevity to me…[Jagged Edge has] done music that’s timeless. You know, the “Gotta Be,” the “Promise,” the “Let’s Get Married,” those records are timeless. They’re going to turn them fifty years from now…As long as God keeps me with my voice and keep blessing my voice and keep me on the right track, you’re going to be able to hear all that music!”
Thankful for the vocal blessing God has given him, and the avid fan base built over the past decade, Wingo hopes to release The Party before the year is up. As many artists pride their careers on the people who love them the most, Wingo is ready to give the fans what they want. “If you don’t like the first record we put out, you’ll like the second one…because ultimately this is what I’m doing for the rest of my life. I don’t want no other job.”