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Singer Lloyd is back like he never left with new music and a movie role

‘I was off the scene and now I’m all the way back on the scene’

Lloyd knew a break was necessary.

After entering the music industry as a teenager and giving his time consistently and meticulously to the entertainment world, the singer and actor knew it was time to pause his journey.

Creating ballads and top-charting hits for more than two decades seemed fulfilling. But for Lloyd Polite Jr., known in the entertainment industry as just “Lloyd,” there was more to life.

He shied away from the spotlight for five years.

“I was off the scene and now I’m all the way back on the scene,” the New Orleans native said. “It’s a blessing. I love it.”

Now, the singer is back reinventing his life, which includes a different perspective on his music career detailed in his 2018 return album Tru and his first movie role in The Bobby DeBarge Story.

The break from the spotlight afforded the 33-year-old the opportunity for self-reflection, which in turn gave him a “minute” to prioritize what really carries value in his life and career.

“I have a lot going on all of a sudden, it seems like,” Lloyd said. “Anytime you have a little bit of sunshine in your life, whether that feeling is love or love for something or someone, life itself seems like the greatest blessing.”

In the midst of still celebrating, Tru Lloyd is now prepping to see himself on screen in The Bobby DeBarge Story, which airs June 29 on TV One. In the movie, he portrays Gregory Williams, founder of the 1970s band Switch and close friend of the DeBarge family.

Last month, Lloyd wrapped up The Millennium Tour, headlined by B2K, and felt a renewed energy while performing for fans nearly every night for three months.

“The appreciation level is far beyond what it ever was before,” Lloyd said. “Being back on tour has really re-energized me in a lot of ways. Also, feeling the love of my comrades who were there with me at times of my career, like the time [on tour] when Ja [Rule] and Ashanti came out on my set. I’ve always been part of their set. But for them to actually come out as my guests, it’s kind of mind-blowing to me.”

Lloyd has been going full speed since dropping Tru, and the singer compares jumping back into the industry to riding a bike.

“You just got to get back on it, and once you’re out of the driveway, you’re back to being a professional cyclist,” Lloyd said.

“I think the hardest part was allowing myself to let go of my pride so that I could record music that was a bit blues-ish with a bit more of a reflective introspective — a highlight of the great times and the bad times. Letting go of my pride was the most difficult thing to do to come back, but once I was able to do that, it was smooth sailing.”

Lloyd began his professional career at age 15 as a member of the band N-Toon, but the group disbanded shortly after releasing their debut album, Toon Time, in 2000. Three years later, Lloyd went solo. During this period, a formative time in his youth, he released more albums. Going full throttle in his career, he’d sacrificed his high school education. But he made up for the one thing he’d always wanted.

“At the time leading up to me making Tru, I went back to school to get my GED,” Lloyd said. “I pretty much helped to put my sister through medical school. I had a great relationship with my newborn niece at the time, and I read a lot of books about the lives of some people who I’d known a little about but not much.

“I picked up an instrument. I started to play the guitar, and I also started to attend therapy classes with my youngest brother, who was battling clinical depression. Through those therapy sessions, learning to talk things out, learning to identify what I feared and then learning how to face them together really was the culmination of things that led to me actually making Tru,” Lloyd said.

Before Tru was a studio album, he’d recorded a song with the same title in 2016. While working on the song “Tru,” he allowed fans an inside glimpse of what life was like during his five years away from the spotlight. In the song, Lloyd reveals his personal problems, leaving his old management team and searching for purpose — all while being vulnerable.

“ ‘Tru’ was the first song I chose to record in the studio after just kind of creating fragments of ideas at home,” he said. “It was definitely a journey in a lot of ways. It challenged me to have compassion towards others and I think challenging myself to be better, to be healthier, to be more kind, to be more patient. These were all of the things on the journey. It definitely wasn’t a straight A-to-B process. There were all of these stops along the way from A, and I didn’t think I’d ever get to B. I think after gathering my thoughts, for some reason, the first kind of music I recorded was really kind of therapeutic personally, and it was in a conversational setting towards the listeners, just kind of telling them the things I was going through. I love that song.”

Lloyd’s first single as a solo artist in which he found success was “Southside,” which peaked in the Top 20 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 2004. The album released the same year with the same title debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart.

After the success of Southside, Lloyd waited three years before releasing the popular sophomore album Street Love, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. The singer wasted no time pumping out another album, Lessons in Love, just a year later. In 2010, after a switch to Interscope Records, he released his fourth studio album, King of Hearts.

During that time, Lloyd had already begun to reflect on all that he’d done in his career to that point. By 2012, the time seemed right for spiritual, mental and physical growth.

The singer was thoughtful about his approach. Lloyd stayed close enough to fans to remain active on social media platforms and appearances but distant enough to take time for himself to re-evaluate his career and role in the music industry.

And now, as Lloyd continues to bask in his return and look forward, he remains true to the advice he’d give to his younger self — advice he also adheres to now.

“I’d encourage myself to be even more fearless,” said the father of two. “I mean really listen to myself, believe in myself, trust my intuition. When you’re younger, you have a lot of self-doubt, and therefore you feel like you must rely on the guidance and the ideas of others sometimes, and you let those trump your own. … I’ve learned that it’s all a gamble, in a sense. You never know what will really mean something to someone.

“I would say to my younger self don’t feel bad about being selfish. It’s OK to be selfish in a respectful manner if you were fighting for your ownership of what you create, and sometimes you make hard decisions and you just have to learn to live with those. That’s what I would tell my younger self. But no regrets.”

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.