Ras Kass, El Gant & J57 Introduce Us To Their Super Group: Jamo Gang
Originally set in motion somewhere back around October 2015, veteran West Coast lyricist Ras Kass, joined forces with another underground stalwart, rapper El Gant, who hails from Brooklyn, New York, and along with native Long Island producer/sometime emcee J57 christened themselves Jamo Gang. The powerhouse Hip Hop trio, who have already been given the stamp of approval from the one and only DJ Premier, semi-recently unleashed their Big Twins, of Infamous Mobb fame, assisted premiere offering, the scathing, “Here We Go Again.”
Let’s talk shop with Jamo Gang…
Parlé Mag: Let’s hop right into this Jamo Gang single, “Here We Go Again.” Tell me about this particular track? And, how did it even come to fruition?
El Gant: This song was done about mid-way through our album making process. Ras and I really loved this beat when J sent it over, and immediately Ras had sent back his vocals from L.A. with a little Intro where he says in his Chuck D voice, “Here We Go Again.” Right when I heard his verse, I knew exactly what to do. The song really went over the top when Ras asked Big Twins to do the hook, and he came up with such a gritty 4 bars that just tied the whole thing together perfectly.
Parlé Mag: “Here We Go Again” comes courtesy of your highly anticipated forthcoming debut as a collective. Has it even been titled yet?
El Gant: As of now, that album remains untitled and we are really leaning on it being self-titled. For us, it represents the totality of what we have experienced and been through in music. We just didn’t want to do an album about how nice we were on the mic. Those records certainly exist on the album, but more importantly we wanted to express how to persevere in life, and achieve goals in a world filled with smoke and mirrors. Songs like; “Drive On,” “Lighters Up” and “Highway,” featuring Premier, definitely push that message.
Parlé Mag: And with that being said, what all can actually be expected, i.e. highlights, producer credits, favorite songs, at this particular point in time?
El Gant: There is one producer and that is J57. We agreed that he would be the sole controller of our projects. We do however have awesome assistance credits from various people to make the album big. Features as well from DJ Premier, our brother Shabaam Sahdeeq, Nutso, Big Twins, DJ Starscream [Sid Wilson of Slipknot] and J’s artist, Mean Joe Scheme. We really did not want to go too feature heavy since we had so much to say ourselves!
Parlé Mag: How did the three of you even come together to form this Hip Hop super-group?
El Gant: Ras and I had been friends for awhile, and got even closer when we used to share the same management. We were working on a bunch of stuff when Ras happened to be passing through town to promote one of his albums. I invited him to Method Man’s video shoot for a song J57 produced. Of course, Ras came in and knew everybody… haha! I introduced him to J, and we all made plans to go over J’s place that next day to listen to some beats. Our chemistry as group was instant. A bottle of whiskey and 3 songs later that day, we knew we were onto something. Later that night, we kind of announced it as a joke on Statik Selektah’s show that we were the Jamo Gang… and the name just kind of stuck and now here we are!
Parlé Mag: How then would you all describe and/or define the style of music that you all create and perform?
J57: Anthemic, yet raw eclectic, yet true to the roots of Hip-Hop.
Parlé Mag: Individually, what do each of you bring to the proverbial “creative table,” both personality and professional-wise, when it comes to the overall “vibe” and/or sound of Jamo Gang?
J57: It starts with Ras and Gant picking out the beats. I can/do produce any style of Hip Hop – and other genres – so my range of sound is very wide… so they pretty much decided on the direction of the album themselves, sound-wise, just by picking the specific beats they decided on from the 4 or 5 batches I played for them/sent them over time. We all bring something different to the table, but for this group we kinda molded into one cohesive direction. Of course both emcees have distinctly different yet complimentary styles on the mic, but we Voltron’ed this bitch, for sure.
Parlé Mag: With that being said, where did the moniker Jamo Gang originally derive from?
J57: Us consuming a large quantity of Jameson (Irish Whiskey) together during our first studio session, haha! Believe it or not, we knocked out 2 and a half BANGERS that session — all of which will be on the LP.
Parlé Mag: How has not only the business of music in general, but, even more-so, you all collectively either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
J57: For me, it’s changed drastically. I started free-styling/beat-boxing in ciphers in late 1998 and then started really writing and taking it seriously in 2000, so by the time I started to really release music – outside of my hometown on Long Island – in 2008, the industry was a year deep into a full change-up. 2007 is when we saw a tremendous decline in album sales due to downloading, and by the time I was a new face in the game I had to stay up on where the industry was going / what consumers were into, ahead of time, in order to not get swallowed up by the sea/ tidal wave; no pun intended.
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you all attribute yours to?
Ras Kass: To quote our buddy (rapper) Jake Palumbo, “having a high tolerance for heartbreak and bullshit.” #facts Ras chuckles
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you all happy with the current state of Hip Hop?
Ras Kass: There’s always going to be watered-down “commercial” music receiving more, if not undeserved, attention. And at the same time, other people are making amazing music still having different ranges of success. So I’m fine with the state of Hip Hop, just hoping Hip Hop takes a hour to truly listen to the amazing music Jamo is making as a collective and individually.
Parlé Mag: And, as an extension to this question, when it comes to the overall sound-scape of today’s current music trends, where exactly do you all “fit in?”
Ras Kass: I don’t fit in; I fit out! I’m not a follower so I love to express my vantage point, and since it all comes (down to) an empathetic point of view I always want people to be able to relate to that commonality.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s)?
Ras Kass: Personally, I haven’t had one yet More chuckles They say it takes 10-15 years to become an overnight success, [it’s been 21 years] so unfortunately I’m behind schedule! But I am thankful to have met some the greatest MCs EVER! Some who are no longer living. So I cherish being accepted, and getting opportunities to rhyme and/or just socialize with my heroes.
Parlé Mag: Lastly, I have to bring up that even though the group is still fairly new, you all have already gotten a major cosign from the legendary DJ Premier — That must bring about some good vibes knowing someone of his stature is already championing Jamo Gang, am I correct?
Ras Kass: Totally! We really are fans of Preemo, and for him to invest that energy into what we’re doing is a big confidence booster. The man is a living legend and a true connoisseur of Fine Hip Hop!
Parlé Mag: Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?
Ras Kass: Don’t Build That Wall. Don’t Collude With Russia. ‘Murica!
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