He may sing about "Rough Water," but Travie McCoy is sailing pretty smoothly through his music career.
The Gym Class Heroes frontman and solo hitmaker ("Billionaire" with Bruno Mars) is on track for his second solo album, the follow-up to 2010's "Lazarus," which should be out next year. And he's already given fans a taste of what's coming with the single "Rough Water," which features guest vocals and guitar from Jason Mraz.
"That song was actually written a couple years ago, kind of about my ex-girlfriend and the relationship we were in at the time," says McCoy, 32, a Geneva, N.Y. native who's also been featured on singles with Cobra Starship, Kelly Rowland, Taio Cruz, Tyga and others. "It sat on the back burner for awhile, and (producer) Benny Blanco was working with (Mraz) and said, 'I want you to hear a song I did with Trav awhile ago.' Jason played some guitar on it and re-sang the hook and Benny sent it to me and I was like 'Whoa!' He took the whole thing to a whole nother planet. It was just fantastic.
"So we decided to put it out there for public consumption, and people are digging it so I'm stoked. We kinda figured people would connect with it, and it gives me a little more time to finish up the album."
McCoy hopes to wrap up work on the set by the end of the month and has also been working with producers such as Grammy Awards nominee Pharrell, Dave Sitek and DJ Slink, among others. He's not planning for many more guests, however, as McCoy is now "more confident with my singing voice than I have been in the past."
"I took vocal lessons for the first time ever," he says, "and I actually learned a lot about using my voice as an instrument as opposed to just going by feeling -- although I'm still doing that. But I've learned a lot of tricks, how to manipulate my voice a little bit within my range.
"So where there used to be places on the records where I would go, 'I can't hit this. Lemme call somebody,' I'm actually tackling them and going for it myself, which is a great feeling."
Travie McCoy, Emblem3, Tegan and Sara, Fifth Harmony and Midnight Red perform at the AMP Radio Kringle Jingle on Dec. 15 at the Fillmore Detroit. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$45. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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