“Who’s Next?”… J The S
Lyrics and intelligence swarmed in tattoos and a skin tone lighter than the average rapper, J The S resembles Parlé Magazine in a sense of being not your average. J The S, 27 is attempting to change the game and how people think about rap music. Being brought up in a different mix of cultures has created this man on a mission. He gave Parlé a quick discussion on who he is, what he thinks about the rap game today, and the impact he’s trying to make on it…
Parlé Magazine: Where you from?
J The S: I grew up in Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis. I came to Massachusetts, went to Springfield at 5. From there I went to Boston as a teen, then moved here (NYC) two years ago.
Parlé: What was the reason for the move?
J The S: I just felt like I hit a glass ceiling in Boston. At one point I ended up looking for new management and new people. I had to ex some people out.
Parlé: Did you feel that you needed a new support system around you?
J The S: I mean, the people I had before weren’t pushing me to do what I had to do, I did a lot by myself. It’s hard to be artistic and snap to the business side, that shit fucks with your mental. But I wound up getting a good publicist, and started doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Parlé: So at this point, what would you say is the most fun part of being a recording artist?
J The S: Hmmm, the fun part? I guess when you first get into the game and you record it and get stuff out there. When you play shows and its a couple hundred people out there. Like I got stopped the other day, being at the supermarket, and I’m not what you would consider mainstream I guess, I’m more underground…but when someone says I identify with you and the music you make, that’s like the best feeling in the world. Fuck when they say “That punchline was hot,” that’s garbage. I got punchlines, don’t get me wrong, but fuck ’em. I want people to really feel the music.
Parlé: And the worst part?
J The S: Just being in the industry. The industry makes demons outta beautiful people. Other people are slimeballs, they are fake as shit man. If you love making music, the industry part of it will give you a distaste for it.
Parlé: Where does the distaste come from?
J The S: It’s all coming from the deals and fakeness, it’s frustratin. Before, Hip-Hop was a culture trying to be a business, now it’s a business trying to be a culture…
Parlé: Being that you did move around a lot and experienced different cultures growing up, what was your upbringing like?
J The S: I just wanted to express myself musically. There were no instruments in the house, but I was always good at talking and writing, so I figured through rapping I could express myself good musically. I just wanted to make music that people could relate to. I wanted to look for the biggest plateau to make the music, that’s when I started.
Parlé: Is that same drive in existence today? Or has it changed over the years?
J The S: I still want the music to be on the biggest platform. But I’m not making the music I made in the beginning. I want to take my music into a different space. I’m going to say different shit, different shit about love, politics, pain, whatever. Whatever is sonically interesting to me, I will make music about it. Now I’m making different shit.
Parlé: You went to school right? College?
J The S: Yeah, I went to North-Eastern in Boston, but I was doing a whole bunch of things. Hustling, going to college, music industry and sociology. Iono what the fuck I was doing studying that (haha) but I wasn’t going to frat parties or things like that. I commuted to school just to work, then leave and do music and hustling, but I would go to class, and get good grades.
Parlé: And growing up, what was your first experience to Hip-Hop?
J The S: I used to listen to Run-DMC tapes, and I used to love seeing and hearing Slick Rick rap. He was just so ill and so fly, and his raps was so smooth. I also started breakdancing at nine or 10. I loved it when I was younger. At around 12, 13, 14, I could absorb it more, and Wu-Tang changed my life. Different people get subconsciously influenced. Reggae was the first music I heard, but I was listening to different people, from Peter Tosh to Bob Marley to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, my parents had pictures of some of these guys hanging in the house, like they hung out with McCartney and stuff.
Parlé: And what was your first taste of the industry like?
J The S: In 2006, I won some big battles, and an independent label from Jersey was diggin me. I did real good on college radio.
Parlé: How would you describe your music, and what would you say influences your sound?
J The S: I grew up in a crazy crib, with drugs, broke people, political corruptions, seeing how the youth is being affected, the effect it has on the dude on the corner. I’ve seen a lot, and I wanted to connect it through the music. I went to a high school in Massachusetts where I met kids from other countries. Everything I speak is real interesting stories.
Parlé: Because of your background and ideals, would this bring you to a point where you wouldn’t want to work with another rapper?
J The S: There are morals values I have. If you listen to rap, it’s people that aint doing what they talk about. I’m doing and have done things I talk about. I’ve worked with “Gangsta” rappers, because my experience is the same. If a person tells me he thinks it’s cool to fuck with girls under 18 than I can’t mess with him. What I rap about is more important than rapping.
Parlé: And when did your first CD drop?
J The S: The Jersey CD was the first CD, back in 2004. That was The Arrival. It did a few thousand units.
Parlé: Sounds like you’ve been busy for like the past ten years.
J The S: Man, I’ve been busy since about five years old.
Parlé: So from that point, how many mixtapes would you say you’ve put into the streets?
J The S: I think now this would be my seventh release coming up.
Parlé: Tell me about that.
J The S: I just dropped a mixtape called Wish You Were Here. The next record coming up after that will be called The Last Days. I want to segue from Wish You Were Here, to The Last Days. Basically it’s just bigger sounds, serious records. I’m making it for all of the old fans ready for new shit and for more new fans.
Parlé: Have you ever had any crazy fans?
J The S: One fan saw me and kept hitting me up, like “Yo we were destined to work together.” I wouldn’t knock anyone, I’m down to build relationships, but his approach was just weird. When they people stop me, like I was in Brooklyn at this African bar, this guy came up to me and told me “I got ya CD’s man, “The rain” is the realest song.” That’s some real shit, that shit’s the best, when a fan appreciates your music. Some dude said I should run for president though, that was pretty crazy too.
images by Daniel Norton for Parlé Magazine
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