[INTERVIEW] Multi-Talented Veteran J-Doe Offers Insight After Many Years In Music

J-Doe interview
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Hailing from the Southern California region of the West Coast, J-Doe, née James Smith, initially made his musical debut via cameo appearances alongside the likes of David Banner, Gorilla Zoe and T-Pain, among others. “Mr. Better Than Whoever” (a nickname he’s adopted) also earned additional stripes composing hit songs for other artists; including, Danity Kane, Jamie Foxx, Kelly Rowland, J. Lo, Tank and Tyrese.

In 2011, J-Doe forged a relationship with the Dungeon Dragon himself, Busta Rhymes, ultimately inking a deal with Rhymes’ then upstart label, Conglomerate Records…

We caught up with J-Doe to talk about his journey in music and much more.

Parlé Mag:  Now a lot of people may or may not know this, but at what point did you actually decide that you wanted to remain more so behind the scenes as opposed to being in the forefront as an artist?
J-Doe:  I actually never decided that! I’m just blessed enough to be able to write and produce songs for other people, while I’m working on my own artistry.

Parlé Mag:  As a songwriter, when you sit down to pen your lyrics where do you draw inspiration from?
J-Doe:  I am inspired by everything great. I happen to see greatness all the time, and I’d say I’m more motivated than inspired to continue to be great and do great shit.

Parlé Mag:  That said, how have not only you yourself – but also the entire industry in general – either changed and / or evolved since you debuted on the scene?
J-Doe:  The industry has become more driven by popularity and less concerned with talent. I once believed that my talent was not only going to be the sole reason for my evolution as an artist, writer and producer but also my ticket to the life I want… but my biggest change and evolution is coming to the understanding that talent alone isn’t enough. There’s much more needed.

Parlé Mag:  When did you first become interested in music? And, how did it all begin for James Smith?
J-Doe:  I first became interested in music as a career in like… actually I don’t even know when, but it was a while back. It first began in church though. I played drums (in) church as a kid, which eventually evolved into piano, bass guitar and a little organ, then it just grew from there. Producing came out of that. Rap came to me like (age) 19, and songwriting came a bit after that. Eventually, it all became a part of my self expression. Now I do all of that daily.

Parlé Mag:  Now you’re a native of Inglewood, CA, correct? So growing up in the ‘City of Champions,’ who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
J-Doe:  Yessir, I’m an Inglewood native… my influences are from all over the world though. DJ Quik, Missy, Busta, India.Arie, Crooked I, Eminem, Polow da Don, Timbaland, Swizz, Tank, Jamie Foxx, Kirk Franklin, Tye Tribbett, Lil Wayne, Kacey Musgraves, David Guetta, Benny Blanco, Alvin Love… the list continues and gets more and more intense.

Parlé Mag:  In having said that, how do you classify your overall sound and style?
J-Doe:  My sound as an artist is what I like to consider the soundtrack to good times.

Parlé Mag:  What particular string of events initially led to your linking up with Busta Rhymes and ultimately inking with his Conglomerate imprint?
J-Doe:  I actually met Busta through Jamie Foxx. I was writing for Foxx, and he had to do a hook for him. I pulled up to that session, ended up writing that hook and Busta had me come back to continue writing hooks. He eventually asked me what else I do, and once I played him my records we just built a brotherhood and continued to work and create.

Parlé Mag:  How come nothing – at least in terms of a proper full length solo offering – ever materialized from this union?
J-Doe:  Well I’m not sure, but I’m still committed to bringing my sound and music to the world.

J-Doe interview

Parlé Mag:  Switching gears here… Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
J-Doe:  Consistency. This is possibly the easiest business to quit ‘cause you’re more than likely going to hit hard times and nobody cares until everybody cares. Lots of people don’t make it past the nobody cares time.

Parlé Mag:  What do you want people to get from your music?
J-Doe:  Good times and happiness.

Parlé Mag:  On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?
J-Doe:  Absolutely!

Parlé Mag:  Do you have any other outside / additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
J-Doe:  Yes, I’m going to be a businessman on some Magic Johnson shit. Music is just the beginning.

Parlé Mag:  To date, what has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
J-Doe:  My greatest achievement is still going. I’m still great… getting even greater! I still have a passion for this shit, growing even more passion and I’m not shook or rattled by the downtime.

Parlé Mag:  One track of yours that you think defines you and why?
J-Doe:  I’m going to have to go with “Don’t Need Those,” featuring James Fauntleroy. Also, I’m pretty sure I’d say a different song every time this question is asked, but today that’s it.

Parlé Mag:  Finally, what’s next for you, J-Doe?
J-Doe:  The soundtrack to good times!

Parlé Mag:  Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?
J-Doe:  You forgot to ask what’s the secret to looking this amazing? My answer would’ve been, “ancient Chinese secret!”

Parlé Mag:  Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
J-Doe:  My closing thought is…in order to increase your wins, you’ve gotta be okay taking more losses. It’s not that winners never lose. It’s actually winners can lose without becoming negative. Don’t let losing make you a loser. You’re welcome!

Connect w/ J-Doe Online via his Instagram

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Todd Davis
Veteran music journalist and indie publicist Todd Davis, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, and has contributed to a variety of national, regional, online, weekly and daily media outlets; including The Source, XXL & Billboard, to name a few, is happy to report that he has recently joined the Parlé Magazine family. Looking forward to many great things to come...