Are you ready for this game?
I’ve been ready. I’m from South Queens, Jamaica and I’ve been doing this since I was 8. I’m 25 now.
What separates you from any other New York rapper as far as talent is concerned?
You see, I wouldn’t say NY in general, as far as artists, but in terms of dudes North, South, East and West, it’s creativity. It’s concepts. I don’t think people use enough concepts anymore. We have millions of ideas in the world, and people only stick to five. I’m not going to name the five. You already know what the five are. (Laughs)
Come on man, you gotta be open.
Money, drugs, sex, cars, and clothes. That’s the majority of what people talk about, and I didn’t grow up that way. Marvin Gaye made conceptual albums. Isaac Hayes made conceptual albums. So I don’t understand why rap isn’t the same way.
So with you being 25, you’ve pretty much seen a lot in the 90’s. Do you feel in a sense music should revert back to the golden age as far as the art form is concerned?
I don’t think anything should go back. I think you have to evolve and you have to move forward. Still, you have to move forward tastefully. You can’t just move forward and think like, ‘This is going to work. I don’t care what I put out. I’m just out here to make a buck.’
If you’re just trying to be a businessman, and just do music like that, then I guess that’s cool. I don’t agree with that. If you’re an artist, and you take pride in your work, then you should take time while loving what you’re doing.
Do you feel majority of the game is consumed in just simply making money?
I mean that’s how far some people can go. Some people can’t do certain things. It’s like; you can’t expect a Cars salesman to be your mechanic also. There are certain things that people just can’t do. So if you want somebody to be lyrical, you can’t expect everybody to be lyrical. If you want somebody to make party music, you can’t expect everybody to make party music. It’s like people talking about drugs. You can’t expect Kanye West or somebody like that to really speak on that. That’s not something they do. Everybody has their own lane.
You just mentioned that you’re a lyrical type of dude. What else can you bring to the table?
I’m creative. I find my inspirations in actors. For instance, as I am J. Whizz, that’s a character made to entertain you. Like Will Smith is Will Smith when he’s with his family. Then when he takes a role, he becomes the guy from I Robot, I Am Legend, and he becomes Muhammad Ali from the movie Ali. I think once I’m doing a project, I am the project. So If I’m supposed to be John Doe on the project, then that’s role I’m going to take.
I think people get caught up in what’s being real. I’m talking about how people won’t step outside of the box, and be creative. There are a lot of people who do that. Now I’m not telling anybody to sellout, because I wouldn’t do it either but always be real to yourself, and in your art.
Do you feel a lot of rappers today are scared to take risks, and because of that, the game is so limited?
Yeah, I think a lot of artists are scared to take risks, because there’s always an easy way out. There’s always an easy way to do things. How can I say this? People follow things. Like 2Pac. He did a lot of things. He did “Hail Mary”, “Dear Mama”, and “Keep Ya Head Up”, but a lot of people only follow the aggressive 2Pac. They’ll only look at the things people label as negativity. So they won’t take 2Pac as a whole. They won’t take the “Dear Mama” 2Pac, or the “Brenda Got A Baby” 2Pac, they’ll take the “Hail Mary” 2Pac. They want the “Hit Em Up” 2Pac. They won’t take him as a whole. Me as an artist, I’m also a student. I study music. I’m eclectic, so I listen to everything not just rap. When I make music now, I don’t listen to rap as often because I don’t want it to interfere or influence with the people out there.
So by listening to different genres, that actually enhances your ability to make better records?
So outside of rap who do you listen to?
Issac Hayes. I mean Isaac Hayes is dope. There are a lot of things he did outside of the box. There are a lot of things he was doing in music that wasn’t even being done back then. I think that’s amazing. I love Quincy Jones. I love Frank Sinatra. I don’t look at rap music as rap music. I mean I love Michael Jackson, Madonna and Eagles. They have an ill song. One of my favorite songs is called “Hotel California”. I listen to the Beatles, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley.
With you being so lyrical, and creative, do you ever feel you might go over people’s heads as far as content is concerned?
No, I don’t think I’m going over people’s heads. There are certain things I say that you might not catch on to, and you’ll have to listen to a few times; but I think I’m in a good space. Biggie said, “You can’t be too ahead of your time, because no one will like you.” I think I’m at the right point. I don’t think I’m at my prime yet. I think I’m good but I think I could reach even further.
So you’re not worried about dumbing down?
No, I won’t dumb it down at all.
So if you were to drop a single right now for radio, what type of song can we expect?
Remember when Jay dropped “Dead Presidents” off Reasonable Doubt. I’d give them something like that. It all depends. It wouldn’t be as old as that because that fit that time. I think back then, if your music was good, it wouldn’t matter if it could be played in the club. As long as it was good, then it got played. I don’t believe in making a club hit. “Quiet Storm” is a club banger, and it’s not a club song. So that just gets thrown out the window.
How do you then break the mold from being just another lyrical cat from the underground and enter the mainstream world?
I guess it depends on your character, and how appealing you are to the audience. The audience is the ones that make that judgment, and final call. I think if you stand out enough, then you won’t be categorized as an underground person. If you have things that are more relatable, and character, then I think you should be fine.
What about labels? What if labels want you to give people something they could grasp?
Then what’s the point of me being an artist? The reason record labels, independent or major pick you up is because of what you show. So why would you have to change something they like in the first place? They picked you up for a reason. So I wouldn’t dumb it down.
I think Lupe is getting more recognition from his second album The Cool now, isn’t he? That’s without dumbing it down. I think people are starting to realize that they need things with more substance, and not just the regular what you’re hearing now.
If you could pick three artists in the game that you could do one record with, who would they be?
Andre 3000, Lupe Fiasco, and Michael Buble.
Who’s the last one?
I think he’s what they consider a pop singer. He does like cover songs. He did a song called “The New Light.” The way he sings is amazing. He reminds me a younger Frank Sinatra. I think he’s in his early 30’s or late 20’s. I think he’s a great singer. I would love to do a song with him.
That’s a crazy line-up. You’re not intimidated about getting ripped on a track?
I think they’re great. I’m not afraid. This is what Hip-Hop is. It’s based off competition. Everything is competition. It’s the only genre is music where it is very competitive. That’s the name of the sport. You have to be competitive in Hip-Hop.
As far as your project is concerned, what can we expect?
By late September, early October, you should have my full conceptual album titled Space Invaders.
What’s the concept behind that?
You know how they say don’t judge a book by its cover, well I advise to do otherwise with mine. (Laughs) It’s going to be amazing.
Any tracks you’re going to leak out?
Yeah I’m going to leak out a few tracks. One track is going to “Who Am I?” I can’t get into too much detail with it yet. Like I said before when I’m an entertainer, I take on a role. I become that person. So If I had to be a spacecraft, I’ll be a spacecraft. So on Space Invaders, whatever I say am, I am until that concept is done. Then, I’ll move onto another project.