When we last left Trevor Jackson, he was ensuring us that his ribs are indeed fine after the Netflix movie Burning Sands, which showcased a deeper range in his acting abilities (and highlighted how well he could carry a narrative). Not too long after he visited our office, it was announced that Jackson would be joining Yara Shahidi's black-ish spin-off grown-ish, which was first introduced in the backdoor pilot episode of black-ish titled "Liberal Arts" and is set to premiere in January of 2018.
Oh, and Trevor signed a record deal with Empire and is working on new material, which is culminating with the release of his Rough Drafts Pt. 1 project. The first glimpse of that is up above in the form of "Benz and My Wallet," Trevor's new single (which drops on Friday, Sept. 22 on all digital platforms). The hella catchy track features an intriguing video which finds Trevor working out his problems with a bottle on the streets. It wasn't what I was expecting, which is dope, and forced me to catch up with Trevor to discuss the clip, his upcoming material, and what we can expect from grown-ish.
In your new video “Benz and My Wallet,” I wasn’t expecting you to be a dancing homeless guy. Talk about the concept of the video.
I love how the video turned out for me. I feel like if you love anything too much and don’t do anything [in] moderation, then you can lose everything, whether it be a girl that you gave too much of yourself to—look at Kevin Hart, make one false step with one girl and go too far and you can lose everything. But on the flipside, the song could be about alcohol or addictions that we struggle with as humans. We give ourselves too much of something and it can take everything away. The homeless guy that I’m playing in the video is singing to the bottle.
Was this a collaborative effort or did the vision come straight from you?
Throughout my music career in general I’ve taken a lot of direction in doing what people tell me to do, especially with the writing and even visually. [Now] I want to be in charge of the visuals; I know what I want. My best friend Wyatt Stromer, who is an incredible cinematographer and director, came in and I told him what I wanted to do and we did it. It was me, him, my mother, my brother, and my boy Osei Vita who is in the video, and of course a lighting crew and stuff like that. We just went in and did it raw, and that’s what represents not only the song but the project; everything that I’m doing in my life, although I might not be where I want to be, I’m thankful for the rough draft. I may not be the most polished man and I may not be perfect but you can’t get anywhere without being a little rough around the edges. I think the video kind of shows that and I’m hype.
I saw Rough Drafts Pt. 1 is what you have been blasting on Instagram and at the end of the video. What can people expect from that project? Is that the full project that is coming out with Empire?
Yes, in partnership with Empire, that’s the album that is coming out. People can expect a little more growth from Trevor. Also with grown-ish, I feel like the music is capturing this stage of my life, the turn-up stage, the love stage, just having a good time. When I play music for people it feels good, and it’s relatable, and the reason why is I’m honest and I’m relatable. I may come off as an asshole sometimes, but I’ve done it everybody else’s way already, it’s time to do it my way.
What is it like for you on the grown-ish set and being a part of an amazing show like black-ish?
It’s been amazing. Kenya Barris? There is no need to say it, but the guy is a genius. He comes to me all the time and asks [if there is] anything I want to change and reminds me that it is my show, too. He makes me feel very at home and welcomed and [gives me] creative freedom over my character.
grown-ish is going to be crazy because there is no other show like it in terms of our content. This is real; anybody who has been to college, there isn’t one thing that isn’t authentic. We are talking about sex, we are talking about drugs, we are talking about things that happen in college. That’s why I love Burning Sands so much, because people come up to me all the time and are like it’s exactly what they went through and that correlates with the music, just wanting to make relatable content and something that shifts the culture. Obviously Yara is a super intelligent, poised, graceful human being; she really is shining in this and it’s a great project for her and everybody involved and I expect nothing but good things.
Have you been playing your tracks for the people on the set?
No, but me and Kenya talked about it. He was like “Yo, send me records,” and I’m supposed to sit down with the music coordinator for the show to start playing them some joints to get them on the show.
Will grown-ish mirror how black-ish balances comedy and everyday life with social issues?
Yes, absolutely. It’s funny because my character is the Black Lives Matter guy and I’m a head of the Black Student Union, every episode may or may not touch on something that is going on in the world but there is always something to make you think, “Dang, I never thought of it that way,” or “dang, this is new.”
How far along are you guys throughout the shoot? I know it's 13 episodes.
We are finishing up episode three and starting on four. I had somebody tell me that they watched the first episode and it was awesome.
That's good to hear. With "Benz and My Wallet" dropping on the 22nd, when can fans expect Rough Drafts Pt. 1?
I wish they could get it today, but unfortunately the music business is so strenuous at times. I have so much music it’s not even funny; I have three albums worth of music but everything is timing and that’s something I am working on, my patience. But I would definitely like to have it out before the show comes out, that’s ideal. Having so much music and making so much music and not being able to put it out can drive you insane, especially when you have as much passion as I do for music. I just want to create and have people hear it.