Welcome to our second HelloHandsome post, where we profile deserving young men – men on the rise and men on our radar!
Five years ago, Miguel Jontel graced our televisions screen on a blink-and-you-missed-it BET reality show. But before you jump to conclusions, he wasn’t bedhopping in college or looking for love, he was working on his dream. “Blowing Up with Fatty Koo” chronicled the rise of the eponymous musical group, but Miguel left for reasons that only a time machine could explain. Since then, the 23-year-old has been recruited to pen tracks for Usher’s “Raymond v. Raymond” album, co-written Mary J. Blige and Musiq’s hit collabo, and begun to record his own debut album due this summer – one that, according to Miguel himself, through a funk, hip-hop, and electro blend, will “aspire to inspire” others.
What was your first musical memory?
Performing for my kindergarten talent show. That was pivotal for me! (laughs) Until then I just loved to dance; I wasn’t really singing. But my mom convinced me that I could sing and that I should try it, so I did.
Did being of both Mexican and African-American background play a part in what kind of music you listened to while growing up?
Absolutely. That’s one of the things that has helped me. My father is a classic rock, funk, hip hop-lover. I would get into his car and he was playing Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC, and then he’d play Queen, then Prince, then the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. And in my moms car, it’d be Smokey Robinson and the Temptations and Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway. There are those times when it’s difficult finding an identity in “mixture,” but when we do, as people, find who we are, although that’s a never-ending process, when we start to lock it in, it makes that mixture so much more profound. Looking at my music now, I think if you listen, you’ll be able to find those influences.
When was your moment of discovery?
It happened on a night I went out, I got into this club, I had this fake ID that my friends gave me, and I had a couple of drinks. There was this really really bad girl, ridiculous, and I didn’t talk to her that night, but I went home and recorded a song called “Quickie.” That was the defining moment of finding my own voice, and not trying to mimic anybody else. I was being myself.
You landed your JIVE deal in November 2007. How did that come about?
Through Mark Pitts. Throughout the year prior to being signed, he had been receiving records that I was submitting for Usher and Chris Brown, or any other Jive artists that might like them. But as much as he liked the songs, he didn’t know where to put them because they didn’t fit anyone else. And he finally heard a song called “Sure Thing” that I never intended for anybody to hear besides myself! But that’s the song that got me signed. He heard it, went back to listen to all the records I’d been submitting, and then realized that there was an overall sound and that there was something special there.
Three tangible things you can’t live without?
My laptop, my car keys – no, my car and keys – and…money! (laughs)
What’s your vice and where do you go to get it?
That’s like a trick question! Women would be my vice. And where do I go to get them? Anywhere! (laughs)
If you were forced to get a tattoo at gunpoint, what would you get?
It would say, “Don’t Shoot!”
What secret urge do you get often, but never act on?
Sometimes I wanna tell people they suck to their face, “You suck, man.” Not people I work with, just random people – if someone cuts me off. I’m kind of a nice guy.
If you had to do karaoke, what one song would you sing?
[Twisted Sister’s] “We’re Not Gonna Take It!” (begins singing) That’s my joint!
What’s the worst you’ve ever screwed somebody over?
I had a girlfriend and I slept with this girl. She didn’t know her though, that would be messed up. I told her though.
What do you look for in a woman?
Power. You have to command a certain amount of respect, the kind that is not off-putting, but almost demanding…like, I would have to know, without words, that I cannot touch you.