The Jackson Legacy Continues Written By Anitra Scott
From the Jackson Five, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and to all nine children of Mr. Joseph and Katherine Jackson, we have been given nothing short of a dynasty. The Jackson family has contributed so many decades of entertainment in music from the late 1960’s to the year 2020. The family legacy continues. The third generation of Jacksons continues to prove that entertainment, and music are all in the “blood line”. The level of talent is unlimited which confirms that the “musical genes” are indeed passed on from one generation to the next.
Typically when anyone hears the last name Jackson, Michael is the first who comes to mind. It is certainly no surprise that he mentored this third generation group member we are thrilled to interview, Mr. TJ Jackson of the group“3T”, his three nephews.
“Mr. T.J. Jackson, you are a very talented member of the Jackson family in your own right. You’re named after your dad, Tito Joseph Jackson, yet you have a distinct talent and style all on your own, following the musical footsteps of your family.
You are the youngest of your brothers in the Pop R&B music group,
“3T”, how did you all come up with that name?”
“Well it’s funny; my mom would call us down for dinner. So instead of having to say all of our names my mom would say, “3T’s come and eat.” Or anything that required all three of us, she would use that nickname. It kind of stuck with us so the name was inspired by my mom. Anytime the family wanted to keep it short, they’d just say “3T”because all of our names start with the letter “T”.
So, there’s Toriano Adryll Jackson known as Taj; he is the oldest. Taryll Adren Jackson, and then comes you, Tito Joseph Jackson (T.J.).
Yes, my oldest brother goes by Taj and Taryll is pronounced like “Daryl” only with the letter “T”.
What was it like having Michael Jackson as an uncle?
“We always had fun with my uncle Michael. Anytime we were with him we loved being silly. Having fun is just what we did. We saw how much energy was taken away from him. We didn’t want to add to it. His energy wasn’t only taken from performances in a filled arena in Japan after singing and dancing, but from all the planning he put into it. We just wanted to enjoy time with him. So my brothers and I would always joke and have fun, throw things at him playing, we just wanted to “keep it light”. It’s not like someone told us to do it, it just happened. That’s how it’s been for the majority of the time with my uncle Michael until he passed.”
Wow, that’s awesome. When your uncle Michael took you all under his “wing”, you have all toured all over Europe. He mentored the group and even signed “3T” group to his label, MJJ Entertainment.
What was it like being under your Uncle Michael’s label and on tour in Europe?
My Uncle told us that we would do well or better outside of the U.S. He really supported us. He took us from another major label so we could do the music we wanted, and do things our way. The problem with the other label was more so “What is Michael going to do for us?” He didn’t want it to be about Michael. It was about us, “3T”. He knew that we would not get the proper support in the United States based on competition that was always created. He “called it”. Right after “3T”was created, the group Hansons was created. So to avoid the issues with support, we toured Europe. My uncle Michael saw things happen to him in the industry, and wanted the opposite for us. He figured we’d never get the proper respect here. So in Europe they embraced us more, the radio stations, and the fans. My uncle really looked out for us,
Growing up, I was always so disappointed that I was not able to see you guys perform because you were in places like Italy and Amsterdam. Did it bother you that you did not tour in the U.S.?
Yes, I would always feel bad when fans questioned why we didn’t tour in the U.S. For this very reason, is why I’ve started promoting in the U.S market myself my own way for my new projects I have coming out. I started here first. I haven’t started in Europe yet. We were supposed to start in Europe in June, yet with the current situation with the pandemic, we have to put things on hold. I am happy to start here in the United States.
The group “3T”was formed in 1995, and has been touring over the years. One of my favorite songs and music videos from your group is “Why?” featuring Michael Jackson. In this video I saw your uncle Michael having fun.
“You know it’s funny, the song “Why” was one of my Uncle Michael’s songs written by “Baby Face”. We were told the video was going to be shot in black and white in a very special iconic place. I thought it was going to be a very serious video, but it was the opposite. My uncle was in the video. We were just having fun and being silly, and now I am glad. I would not have it any other way. It is like a perfect memory for me to have of him. It’s really cool because that is the relationship we had. It is even funny because there is a shot where he is instructing us on something. That video really captures our relationship. I am so proud that we did it. I can look at it over and over again. It just makes me smile. That video is amazing to me.
You and your family members will always be compared to your uncle Michael, because he is a legend. Artists like “The Weekend”, Chris Brown and Usher even mimic his talent. As a fan, I see Michael in all of your family. Within your family are writers, producers and actors who have contributed to other artists’ success. Many performers in the entertainment industry are drawn to the Jacksons. Even Kenneth “Baby face” Edmunds has written for your family, as you have mentioned. Do you or your cousins sometimes compete with each other? Does the third generation typically help each other and join forces especially with music and choreography?
We actually don’t. I don’t know what it is but, we just don’t. When I do my music I just think about what my uncle would say, or my dad would say, and then I let it go. My family, my brothers, nobody hears my music until the world does. This shocks a lot of people. That’s how we are. I don’t know what that is. I recall needing a dancer for one of my videos so I asked my cousin, who knows a lot of dancers if she knew anyone, and she recommended some great people. So that’s like the extent of the advice that we get. Please don’t get it twisted. My cousins are doing some great things, and my brothers. I could hear my uncle Jermaine say, “We are on the same team, we have the same name, and we are pushing the same legacy.” So basically when one Jackson wins, we all win. We are all competitive. But it’s healthy. So if you are going to ask if I want one of my family members to succeed, know that I want all of my family to succeed because I love them. When they succeed, I succeed. All of my family is doing wonderful things whether it’s music or not. My cousin Jaafar has some great things coming out. My brother has things coming. So I am just a happy brother and cousin. I am part of this Jackson team.
What advice would you give to your younger self or others to follow after all that you’ve learned as an artist in the music industry?
It’s great that she is demanding the best from herself. That’s what it takes to be incredibly memorable. I caution not to be so hard on yourself that you’re hurting yourself. Years ago it was not ok to see errors from artists, or mistakes. But now, today a lot of the fans like to grow with you and see you develop. They like to see you better yourself whether you make mistakes along the way or not. So artists like Justin Bieber to Taylor Swift started on a small scale, and grew their audience to a larger scale. I would tell Paris J. and all those who are entering the industry to not be so hard on yourself. Learn from mistakes and keep going. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Be your authentic self. To be successful, you have to keep going no matter what.
I am positive that being a Jackson has had its ups and downs, especially when it comes to dating celebrities like Kim Kardashian when you all were in high school. I’ve read a few articles referencing the two of you dating in high school and even attending prom. I am sure that your privacy is not always honored. How did you deal with the tabloids over the years growing up as a member of the Jackson family?
We are used to it. We were told early on. I am used to someone hiding in the bushes trying to take a photo, or having someone take a picture of what you purchased from a store. It’s normal for us. For example, when you are coming out of a bookstore and someone tries to take a photo of what you brought to make a story out of it. That is something that I think is normal because I have always had to deal with it. It doesn’t bother me. It only bothers me when they harp on children. I think there should be a law against that. I really think they need to fix that problem. I certainly have an issue when tabloids try to construct stories on minors. I just don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that is cool at all. I wish there was a stronger law that was put in place to protect minors from paparazzi. I can tell you firsthand from experience that it is needed. It just makes life that much tougher for people who have to deal with it. So, I grew up knowing what paparazzi could do to your story. I am aware of how profitable it could be for tabloids to catch you “slipping up”. We were warned early from my mother and father to be careful, and to represent the family name and our people the right way. That is something I hold dear to my heart.
Your mom, Delores “Dee Dee” Martes Jackson, her birthday was April 1st, may she rest in paradise. You were about 16 when your mom died. I know that was not an easy adjustment. Losing a parent at any age is never easy. Was your mom’s passing part of the reason you decided to become the guardian of all of your Uncle Michael’s children because you could relate to losing a parent at a young age? Were you their favorite uncle so to speak or was it something else?
Exactly, it was a couple of those things. When I lost my mother I just turned 16. I was like 16 and one month. It was the hardest thing that I had to deal with. I was a good student, ambitious, and lost my way after she passed. I lost a lot of inspiration. I didn’t care about much. I had a lot of family and friends but, I have to say that my uncle Michael was an important piece. He re-inspired us to continue with our music and to make a difference and do it in my mom’s name and in her honor. I will never forget. I think it was the following day after she died and my uncle Michael flew in to see us from another country. He flew in to check on us and to uplift our spirits. He knew we were devastated. From that point on, and until I became a father myself, he was very supportive. He was always there for us making sure we were ok. I really appreciated that. I love my cousins, so when he passed I had to return the favor and be there for them the way he was there for us. I couldn’t stand by and not be there for them knowing how hard it was for me. Also, I had a child and was a parent. The last decade before he passed instead of talking about music and all, we talked about parenting. So I knew a lot of what he thought and wanted as a parent. When he passed, it just felt right for me to be there and to help out.
What are 2 of the biggest life lessons learned from your family that you would like to share with the world?
One of the two biggest life lessons is to give back. I think society places so much in people’s minds of wanting materialistic things for ourselves, but there is a lot of power in giving back. There is a lot of happiness that can be had by giving. My family as a whole is big on giving back no matter what. My uncle Michael and my entire family.
You and your brothers are certainly living up to those standards of giving back. You all have created The “Dee Dee” Jackson Foundation in honor of your mom in 2015. I understand it assists with raising money for schools, communities and charities with a mission to help individuals experiencing grief and creating a safe space to share stories while grieving. In addition, you all have the radio show “The Power of Love” and L.A. Talk Radio Show created to assist with the goal of helping others deal with grief. I commend you and your brothers on following the journey, and path your entire family has created in giving back to the community.
Yes, we sponsor “heal therapy” programs, we do dinner for causes, and we do all types of different things to help those who are grieving. We try to make people’s lives better. I kid you not, after every Wednesday’s show I feel so enlightened like I am on “cloud nine”. I feel equally great like I am coming off stage because there is nothing greater than the feeling of giving. I’m telling you, everyone should start giving no matter what it is. Give, even if it is a written letter, no matter how small. Giving fills a great part of your soul. That is something that I learned from my whole family; from my mother to my uncles, my entire family including my father, my grandmother, everyone. I am just so happy that I have the spirit of giving back because that has really motivated and driven my life.
The other life lesson I would share is to be humble. I credit my father the most because he is the guy that you would see in the aisle at “Home Depot” who would strike up a conversation with you. He coached our little league team. I honestly didn’t know the effects of my family until my mid 20’s. I think it has a lot to do with how humble my family was. So I didn’t know the level of success that was achieved. I knew that their music was played on the radio and videos were on television, but I just didn’t know the big impact that was made. I’m still kind of learning. I credit that to their humility, and I think that humility is very important to stay grounded.
Your family is so amazing. With your new music as an R&B solo artist we are holding you to a very high standard. So many people say new music lacks the sound of traditional R&B. However, your latest songs “I Can’t Stand It”, “I Don’t Deserve This”, “I Didn’t Mean to Hurt You”, are certainly far from lacking the originality of R&B. Your music and videos are so alluring. “Insomnia” in particular, these are the love songs we miss. What’s so special about your new music that you feel will connect with people?
It’s funny that you mention that. The bulk of my music is from the 90’s R&B sound. It’s what I grew up on, and it’s what I am drawn to. It’s a classic sound and it’s a classic time. I am not afraid to borrow from that and get inspired. I am also inspired by other sounds but the bulk of my music has been inspired by the 90’s R&B, and I think it always will be to be honest.
I have an interest to do a blues project with my father and to do some type of trio project. But I have all those ideas but I think the core of T.J. Jackson is going to be old school R&B, and I’m ok with that. I just do the music I feel is right for the fans, and I am drawn to the 90’s R&B sound. I had an opportunity to go with a major record label and I decided not to go with them because I grew up in the 90’s R&B sound and my music comes from that era. I didn’t want to have to put a filter on my sound.
What projects are you currently working on?
I was scheduled to be in France this month actually with my brothers. I was also scheduled to do two music videos for songs I’ve already completed. Unfortunately, those plans are not taking place due to the unfortunate events taking place in the world.
I will be working on my second EP (extended play). So I’m going to be releasing three EP’s as a little trilogy before I release an album. I have pretty much all the songs done for the EP’s. I am going to keep on a path that I choose. For example every other month there will be a song and a video released. If I did sign with that label, it would be something totally different. I pretty much want to tell the story the way that I want to for my fans. So I am working with an editor right now to perfect a few things.
I am here to confirm as a fan that we are looking forward to the release of all your music. I know COVID-19 is affecting so many tasks.
Yes, know that I pray for all and that this is over soon. I am doing my part by staying inside.
It was certainly a pleasure to sit and chat with you as a major crazed Michael Jackson fan; I think I speak for all fans when I say The Jackson Family Legacy continues with so many iconic family members. We look forward to the release of your projects and looking forward to an opportunity to get out and see you perform live in concert.
Remain on the lookout for new projects for T.J. Jackson. This Jackson dynasty is never ending.
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Written By Anitra Scott