Long before he appeared on Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, Lyfe Jennings established himself as a platinum-selling R&B artist.
But after a series of personal setbacks — including getting sentenced to three years in prison for kicking down a door while searching for his baby mama, and then leading police on a high-speed chase — he decided to give reality TV a try.
But in a new interview with Houston radio station Majic 102.1, Jennings said going on VH1’s LHHATL was a mistake.
“It was kind of selfish on my part, honestly, I would have never did that show. I was dealing with a lady and she had asked me to do it before and I said ‘no.’ Then Karlie Redd, she said, ‘You’ve got an album coming out, don’t you?'” Jennings recalled in the interview, while promoting his episode of TV One’s Unsung.
Jennings said he was friendly with series veteran Karlie Redd, and she eventually convinced him his album would sell more copies if he went on reality TV. The singer-songwriter appeared on LHHATL for one season, and was known to fans as Redd’s love interest.
“She was like, ‘It’s going to be so much bigger if you’re able to promote it on the show,'” he shared.
The “Must Be Nice” singer said he knew the show wasn’t his “speed,” but he figured he had nothing to lose. It didn’t take long for him to realize it wasn’t worth the trouble.
“The cost of that marketing was higher than I expected it to be,” he admitted.
Jennings is known for being a “socially minded R&B singer,” while Love & Hip Hop faces frequent criticism for poorly representing African Americans by showing cast members physically fighting and hurling verbal insults.
Going on the show boosted his profile, but Jennings said it brought the wrong kind of publicity.
“It’s so crazy. I was going out in the streets and young cats were like ‘this is Lyfe Jennings’ and they said ‘who? Lyfe Jennings off of Love & Hip Hop’ … and I’m like ‘hold up!'”
Still, he admits the Love & Hip Hop franchise is a powerful platform for artists who appear on the various shows.
“I don’t want to hate on Love & Hip Hop, because it’s an opportunity for those cats, and it’s cats that have done well as a result of it, but I think for me, it’s a conflict of interest. You can’t be talking about reform and then, you’re on TV unreformed,” he said.
This weekend Jennings is the focus of TV One’s music docuseries Unsung, and will discuss his life, career and spending time behind bars.
Unsung airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/8C on TV One, followed by Uncensored at 10 p.m.
Below is Lyfe’s interview with Majic 102.1, plus a clip from Unsung with him talking about getting arrested after kicking down a door.