"IYAZ's songwriting style is timeless and universal," says J.R. Rotem, the in-demand songwriter and producer crafted most of the tracks on IYAZ's (whose real name is Keidran Jones) album, which will be released by Reprise Records. "IYAZ is a storyteller who paints visual scenarios that tug at the listener's heart-strings," says Rotem, who also discovered pop sensation Sean Kingston. In fact, it was Kingston who first stumbled across IYAZ's MySpace page in May 2008, liked what he heard, and recommended him to Rotem, who has also worked with 50 Cent, Britney Spears, and Rick Ross.
IYAZ and some college friends from had recorded a song called "Island Girls" that was soon bumping out of every jeep and yard across the Caribbean. "I recorded it on my laptop, using a headset mic from Wal-mart," IYAZ says. "Because I studied engineering in college, I can make any mic sound like it was placed in a million-dollar studio." The song became a massive radio hit--with heavy in rotation in Anguilla, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Martin and Tortola--and caught the attention of Rotem and Kingston.
IYAZ was skeptical when he saw Kingston's messages in his MySpace inbox, wondering why a pop star would reach out to an unknown like him, so he ignored them. But Kingston wouldn't leave him alone, so after receiving three more messages, IYAZ thought he'd better respond.
IYAZ soon found himself partying with Kingston in Ft. Lauderdale, grubbing on delicious chicken cooked by Kingston's mama over Memorial Day weekend. Within two weeks, IYAZ signed to Kingston's newly-formed production company, Time is Money Entertainment. Rotem subsequently signed IYAZ through Time Is Money/Beluga Heights, which has a new label partnership with Warner Bros. Records. Now Kingston and IYAZ are inseparable as friends and as musical partners.
"Sean is my 'little' big brother," IYAZ says. The two live just blocks away from one another in Ft. Lauderdale. Not only do they finish each other's sentences and celebrate holidays with each other's families, they collaborate seamlessly on songwriting and production. "When you put us in the studio together, it's like magic," IYAZ says.
Born in the U.S. Virgin Islands but raised in the British Virgin Islands, Keidran Jones grew up amid swaying palm trees in idyllic Tortola, where he had a breathtaking view of the turquoise sea from his home. His father toured with a singing group, while his mother has directed church choirs for many years. It was at her insistence that IYAZ, at age 11, sang Kirk Franklin's "They Need to Know" for a Christmas concert. "Even if you don't do great, it's like 'Amen!' 'Hallelujah!'" IYAZ says, chuckling. IYAZ doesn't do much gospel nowadays, but his music is sparkling clean. "I'm even cleaner than Sean," he says, adding that he doesn't need to resort to curse words or negative themes to express emotional depth.
Consider the Rotem-produced "Replay," which boasts an irresistible melody, crisply syncopated high hats, and a few well-placed electro-violin riffs. IYAZ says that the song is about obsession: "You think about the girl you like every second of the day. You even call other girls by her name."
Many of IYAZ's songs are about women. "Dancer" delves into the pole-dancing world of a captivating exotic dancer. "I'm telling her that she can be anything in the world," he explains. "She could be a lawyer, firewoman, the President, but tonight, in this club, she's gonna be my dancer." "Heartbeat" is about how the right girl can make his heart race; hands shake, and stomach flutter. For "Find A Way," IYAZ wrote about surviving tough times in a relationship. "You're just telling her, that you really want to make it work."
IYAZ understands that struggle firsthand, because the music business has been challenging for his love life. Instead of cultivating a relationship, he's busy in the studio or touring. But when things get to be too much, IYAZ can always return to his other great love: motorcycles. He just hops on one of his dirt bikes and rides off into the Floridian sunset!