JEEP JACK - Interview
Most Hiphopsection readers know who Jeep Jack is. Indeed, his compilation A Jeep Jack Affair was one of the surprises of the year 2000 and was critically acclaimed by most of the members of the Hiphopsection team. However, Jeep Jack, Record Company Records' beatmaker and co-founder, remains pretty much unknown, especially in his own country. It is only right then that he offers us his first interview ever. Now let's hope he blows up so we can say, "we were the first one".
When and why did you start making music?
I don't make music, I make music happen. I play records, and sometimes I ufck with keyboards, but mostly I help ideas to materialize, and that's it. The majority of the time those ideas are not mine at all. I think I help people be more creative though, and entertaining - perhaps because I am neither of the two, I don't know. I started messing with protools in 95, I was all mad at rap and trying to make hip hop better and elevate the mind and all that...now I know the truth though. It's all for the girls. It's all for to impress the women. There is no other reason why. And I don't mean r&b songs that pop girls can listen to on the radio, that's not the only music designed for girls. We still gotta keep it real, but realize this, if it doesn't get someone - if it doesn't get at least a couple of people laid, I ain't bout it. Jeep Jack a.k.a. everybody gets laid.
I guess that's where the Slow Jams come in? What's the whole thing behind Jeep Jack's Slow Jams? Why did you decide to get this out instead of some rap stuff?
The rap is boring... at least lately it has been. Everyone wants to make traditional hip hop and the only thing it's relevant to is traditional hip hop. I could give a damn about how nice an mc is and how many metaphors he can use to describe how he's going to hurt and shame the imaginary wack mc, isht has nothing to do with everyone gets laid. And people think I'm weird for saying they should make a song about tying their shoes, or the old fan in the window, or anything for that matter. I don't understand why so many people want to rap about rap, or rap about how one hates when people rap about rap, or rap about the playa, or hate on the playa, or make "underground" rap...or any of these things that can be labelled in a group with other rap...it's like all these rappers are scared to wear anything pink because they're scared someone will call them gay.
That Slow Jams cd isn't anything really, it's all old and some rather new loops, over and over again. I actually did it at first just to clean off my hard drive of all of the dumb samples that were too *@# for rap, but it started getting good when I got Lloyd to play the dj. So I developed the experiment further, it actually is designed to get you laid. And it's set up so you can even pretend it's the radio and not a cd at all, but that's not necessary because the cover is silly and pretty and you could be like check this out and your potential lover there will probably giggle or something. So it starts off all weird and light-hearted so as to create dialog, small talk, you know? Then it starts getting kind of sexy with all of that 70's dirty outdoor foreplay stuff, but subtle. It doesn't seem subtle, but that it is why it is. It all sounds like old porn music, with the dj talking about how romantic it is in the Roxbury studios and about the love in the air, and you will probably be like this dude made this cd to get laid to. But, ladies and gentlemen, he did. But it's not through sexy songs, it's the progression, the process of the cd from start to finish that gets you laid. I have conducted a serie of experiments with various forms of this same cd, it works. It's exactly sixty minutes long, with everything considered: from ice breaking, to convo, to kiss, to foreplay, to sex, to head pt II, to real sex, to lying around naked smoking blunts, and in that order (somewhat). And it sounds like isht. And I worked hard to get it that way. See, you're not supposed to listen to this cd, you're just supposed to maybe hear it when it's on. It's not for headphones, it's not for "hey check this cd out", it's highly functional mood music for romantic couples of the new millennium.
That's interesting, you tell me "rap about rap" bores you, yet the Yukonn does "rap about rap" on a few of his joints... so what's up Jeep Jack?
Hey, you said it. And I really don't support it. And you would definitely hear about it if the Yukonn was ever interviewed and my name came up. But that's like my brother there, the Yukonn MC. And it was just like a summer project between two friends, and I knew right from the beginning that I would be able to use it as an example forever about what not to do. But how can I say it's wrong when I've never made the mistake first-hand? And it's amazing how much isht I got about that very same question you ask, every rapper I talk to said the same thing, like, "why can't you do isht like that with me?" And I'm always like, because it sucks, but I had to do some plain old hip hop at some point, and too many people in the hip hop community here just think I am a weirdo, I think. So I thought right then would be a good time to mess with it.
I never scrutinized any of the Yukonn's content for this project, just the form. And I only said I'd do it in the beginning because he was so organized. He had the whole project laid out: lyrics written, moods and colors decided on, improv sections planned, and a good stand on what the whole project would look like. At that time, no one else was approaching me like that, and that was all I was ever looking for. Someone should definitely ask Yukonn about his list of isht that I said to him a lot, I sound like a dick I'm sure, but isht is funny. P.s. I do like the Yukonn project. A lot of times when I talk about it I think it seems like I think it sucks. It doesn't, but it's not an album by any means. It's just a cd of the isht we were working on for the cd...and that should sound confusing. Because the cd isn't about anything but hip hop, and I don't think that makes much sense. Well, it would make a lot of sense, except that that seems to be what every "underground" rap record is about, and I don't think anything I do should be a part of that whole sub-genre, but it constantly is, so I have to think a lot bout that, because it's weird. I mean, all I really listen to is Cash Money, LA gangsta rap, and Otis Redding. And Minor Threat, how do I end up getting my cds compared to Soundbombing?
That's good, we can talk about the rappers now then. How did you hook with all those cats?...Microft, Yukonn, Elation, Sam Lover, GMT, Conzentrate, Ace Murda and the list goes on...
It's all part of the process. It's all friends of friends and things like that. I don't like to work with people when I know no one else who knows them well; there's a lot of haters in the Boston area, especially in Roxbury. And most times we don't even get around to making music happen until we're cool and friends and isht like that, but sometimes someone might bring a friend to a studio session and by the end that friend will be starting to hook up isht with me for his/herself, but things like that are hard because I have way too many projects going on right now, and the only way I end up working on something new is if I feel like I kind of owe it to them as a friend or something.
I've been ending up in all sorts of weird predicaments as of lately because of the state my studio schedule is in right now. I'm all trying to finish all of the projects I have started before I begin work on anything new, and that's no small task, but I continue to meet new people and meet up with people I have worked with in the past who are all eager to get some new stuff done, but I have to delay it until I finish all of that old stuff, but then dates are asked for and decided upon and I shouldn't really be doing that because there is no telling how long this older material is going take to go through. So I end up in painful situations where I don't get nearly enough sleep and I get grumpy and start taking shortcuts and not doing isht right, so things with mcs and rappers are messed up right now, but they're all my friends so we'll get isht done eventually.
Microft: I've known (him) for years, that's a good friend of mine and one of the main people that made it possible for me to be doing the things I'm doing right now. He has no idea how much I appreciate him and everything he's done for and with me. In a way I wish I wasn't such a dick to him, but in more of a way I'm glad because he's one of the illest lyricists I've heard now, and I think I helped him to get there, at least a little.
Yukonn: I've known (him) for the longest of any of the mcs and rappers I've worked with, we were tight when I was in high school, and that's cool because we really can't take any offence to anything each other says or does, because there's mad love and history.
Elation: I met (him) through Arap from Silk Vision like three or four years ago, and I thought he was a goof ball when I first met him. He's one of my best friends right now. And he helped me make my first record. That's big.
Sam Lover: I met (him) around the same time as I met Microft, they were both good friends with Noah Peffer, who I used to live with when I was at the university.
GMT: I know (them) because I went to high school with a few of the guys from the group, but Unity and Shakim have chilled a lot over the past couple of years, more so than the whole group. I don't like working with that many heads at once when there's blunts on the scene.
Conzentrate: I know (him) through Elation, unfortunately he never settles in one place for too long, so I never get to really chill and know him well. He's good.
Ace Murda: I still don't really know (him) too well yet, he is the 13 years old son of my old neighbor's friend's girl. And I really like working with him, but it's hard because he's only thirteen and I don't want to get all serious on him and make him do more than is easy.
What are these projects you've been trying to finish before starting to work on new stuff?
Well, just off of the top, there's like three songs with The Storytellers, three with Ace Murda, like five with El Apocalipsis (and I haven't even figured out how to do the denbow rhythm right yet). There's four or five Shakim tracks (but he's M.I.A.), there's one important Silk Vision track, two old Sam Lover songs. There's supposed to be a Yukonn 12" coming out and we don’t have the bonus track done yet (but I think Insight is going to do it), there's a couple unfinished Unity songs. I have like three thousand gigs of data to back up and organize, and like thirty or forty packages that I said I would mail out a long time ago, and all I want to do is work on new isht. Time is trying to be my enemy.
Cool. What's being released in 2001 and 2002 though? The Run 12" was supposed to come out some time ago but we haven't heard anything about it recently? What's up? And you might want to make an official announcement about the Spring Fever 12", 'cause I know you had a meeting about it the other day...
I don't know what the deal is with "releases". A lot of the isht I'm working on is just for, like, demos, and shows, and things to show people what we're doing. So far, the Ace Murda, the Storytellers, El Apocalipsis, the Shakim, and the Unity projects are only small three song collections, you know? Like I'm trying to gear them up to make singles or at least single material. I don't want to make anymore half-ass full-length cds, and no one has any good ideas, so right now I'm just trying to help kids still to get their isht together. What all of these guys have to do is create material that someone will like and know that they can probably sell, and I wouldn't buy half of the isht I'm working on. So I guess I'm being real picky with what falls into the "release" category. I stopped working on The Run soon after Microft did. We ran into all sorts of problems while we were being extremely critical of what it would be, and I think he just got frustrated, so we never finished doing everything in our plans. We still have to rerecord the first song on the b side, and we haven't even started recording The Run remix. Microft didn't like the one remix that I did pretty much finish. So I don’t know. I can't dedicate anymore time to it if he doesn’t even care about it. That's my dog, but I like teams, you know?
And Spring Fever? Man, all I got to say is ufck Recordpressing.com. It's called Spring Fever and here it is July 8th or something and we just got the test pressings like yesterday. We just have to wait now, until Spring 2002. But I'm gonna do everything in my power to make sure it's out by the first day of Spring, and I don't mean according to the calendar. I want that isht on the radio the first nice day of the year, that's what it was made for. I just hope that djs like it.
What else? I have a bunch of work started for some new mix cds. And if I were to get some extra time or money, I could easily put together a second edition to that Jeep Jack cd (A Jeep Jack Affair). But I have some other similar ideas, that could include just as many people, and I have some larger scale projects planned too, but I don't have the time and money to organize everybody I need to participate, so I'm trying to internalize and not need anyone to get the job done, because right now I'm so dependant on and waiting for so many people, that I can't keep track of what's gone where, and what should get priority over what...
But the Sam Lover project is something to look forward to if you are into him at all. He's gotten much better, and the plans for the cd are very cool. It's going to be called The Making of Sam Lover, and it's already all storyboarded out and half the music has already been arranged, but the writing for it is going to take a long while. And Dj Frank White and I are soon to start working on a series of hip hop-style mix tapes, with exclusives and custom remixes and all that type of stuff. I'm hoping the first of that will be called BBQ but with all of this in mind, I don't see anything for real coming out before 2002, unless someone outside our crew is interested in publishing some of the material we've already worked on. I haven't the time or the money to get something out on my own right now, and I don't really like anything enough to anyway.
The multiple delays with the pressing of vinyls, the lack of financial backing, the fuck ups, the haters, the cds getting lost between Boston and Paris...are all of the problems you encounter what people call "paying dues"? Do you think it's the struggle all the starving artists have to go through? Or is it that you don't know how to run a business? Or is it just that you're very unlucky? What do you think? Can all the frustration lead to Jeep Jack saying "fuck it: I quit"? Or is it making you stronger?
1. Yeah I'm still paying dues; I have been working with this digital audio stuff seriously since 1995; here it is 2001 and I think that I'm just starting to get good at it, I don't have the gear to be Dr Dre, but I ghetto-fabricate my way through it, and I still use ufcked up k-mart keyboards to do it.
2. Ufck a starving artist, I eat like a king; but I have still yet to make any money from this music isht. And that's due to the music I consciously involve myself with. I'm not trying to commercially make a name for myself (I am trying to make other people famous, and hopefully meet some beautiful women in the process), and I do work like a starving artist. I went to art school, I am a visual artist, and here I am spending all of my time making music. I don't try to do what people want, I try to do what people need, or rather what they want but don't know yet. I think a lot about style: new styles, old styles, styles in fashion...and I try to ignore the content being expressed through these styles, I have to or I'll get pissed that heads is still talking about the same old crap, well, I think I'm getting far away from the question so I'll finish this right here: I don't know what's "cool," I'm not very "cool," but I'm damn sure going to do whatever "I" think is "cool," and I think that's what qualifies someone as a starving artist, or at least that's what makes that artist be so starving, ignoring what actually is "cool." And starving artists are never happy that they are starving, so we all gotta complain about it, or we'd just be dudes with hobbies.
3. No, I honestly have no idea how to run a business. I am far too honest, and concerned with being a friend to all of the people I am involved with to ever make any money. Well, obviously honesty shouldn't hold any good business back, but how am I supposed to get paid when every one I work with is my friend, and every one I work with has no money, I had someone to help me run the business, but he just kinda lets me know when I've ufcked up now, so I'm still trying to figure it out...we'll see if it all works out, yes?
4. I am very lucky; not as lucky as some, but very fortunate nonetheless.
5. Quitting...that is something I think about a lot. I don't think I've ever quit anything, as far as I'm concerned. But I think a lot about it, because if things pan out here, I expect to have some type of audience, some group of random people that actually care and are paying attention to what's coming out from here, and with that relationship comes responsibility. I really do think about this a lot, because I used to do a lot of graffiti. We used to go painting at least twice a week, on some all-day isht. And I was more than dedicated to it, all I did, at work and at home, was draw, and plan, and scheme...but I got tired of it.
I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in the U.S., the only people that care about graffiti is graffiti writers. And graffiti writers are just like rap kids (they say it's all hip hop, right? They weren't joking, isht is the exact same thing: same politics, same bullisht drama, same way to get props...). Just imagine my only audience was rappers, if the only people who cared about it were the same people who made it. That's some serious testosterone/homo love. And there are so many parallels between the two (graf and rap music), but one thing that is very important is that I only got laid from graffiti: once. I mean I could show my grandmother photos of my graffiti, and she would probably give me some love, but the only people who give graf on the streets any love is the people who are involved with it. Even other artists don't know isht about how to look at graf.
But hip hop music is different. There are no lines separating your potential audience; you may know someone who absolutely hates rap, but I bet that you can catch them at least once bobbing their head to a Nike or a Sprite commercial, or maybe they're all into one of those dumb rock songs that's on the radio that are completely ripping off rap music (you know, with the Rakim samples scratched into the choruses, and the Jungle Bros breaks under the Dave Matthews acoustic guitars...). I hate on that isht too myself, but don't tell anyone because hating on no one but haters is sort of like my motto/gimmick: and I do have gimmicks and mottos and other commercial ideas, I don't hate on the commercial market and mainstream society, I just think the isht they are liking is dumb, or at least not what I want to do. Yeah, it's just not what I want to do (I don't really want to drop any hit singles, and I don’t think I will, that's why I started RCR, graf was the same way, I was never really a bomber, I just took my time with pieces and productions). If I were to hate on anything, I would hate on underground rap, I think most of that crap is stupid.
So no, I don't think I will ever quit this stuff, there's too much love in what I get to do and I'm all up in it. And I have been for so long, and I haven't even quit writing graffiti either, I just think all of the Boston graf writers suck right now, and I don't want to get in trouble for representing something I don't believe in, and I'm not going to be the one to save Boston graf, I don't have the balls, and Nancy would rip them off if I did. P.s. Vault came back and ufcked up the city right, all the new kids should follow his lead, but not until they learn how to write.
Hey, I had no idea you were a graf writer... plus I didn't know your major was visual art...but don't you think your music is very visual in a way?
Everything I do is very visual, yes, especially the music. Not just what it sounds like, but in how I write it. I use storyboarding techniques and linear graphs with like circles, squares and triangles of different sizes to illustrate different places and colors within the music; I have to draw pictures of my ideas a lot because basically every project I work on is a collaboration of some sort. Even if I put the music together all by myself, I might sample my friend or get some type of guest appearance, so I have to explain my ideas somehow a lot, and none of us are musicians in the traditional sense of the word, so I tend to create my own languages to communicate ideas, and most of them come from visual art isht.
That's interesting. And then there are the picture covers, which I know are very important for you... do you feel that they are as important as the music itself? Can the music come without the cover and vice-versa? And while we're on the subject, you could tell us a bit about the A Jeep Jack Affair cover cause 90% of people I talked to thought it was absolutely horrible.
And it's half the reason for why every project takes me so long to finish, I gotta do all of the covers myself, I am very picky. You should see how many versions of the Yukonn cover I have (not to mention how many versions of the actual cd I have done), and I'd be even more particular if I didn't depend on some hook up to get them printed. I gotta wait til I get them for free, so I have to settle in a lot of situations. You wait until I have a real budget to work with on some project...isht is on. The Jeep Jack cover...that is an interesting thing, no? Did I already tell you how it's not a real cd? I think I must have told you that. Anyways, the whole cd is ghetto and I never wanted it to be anything but (that). As a matter of fact, it's so low budget that I made it look like it was: a.) Low budget and b.) Miami Vice was still the new and hip thing. Actually when I first made the cover I put it in a case and laid it on the passenger seat in my car and rolled up all of the windows.
I did a few tests on pedestrians, and I won: my goal was for the musical genre to be completely undeterminable. It was supposed to look like the type of cd that you buy late at night off of television, like "Smash Hits of the Eighties" or something. I wanted the cover to mean the same thing to any American who saw it. I think it does, but how was I supposed to know that it would leave the country at all. I didn't think anyone would get it but my friends and the dumb white girls that I would harass on the streets at night when I was drunk, you know?
So yes, the cover is awful, it is supposed to be. It's supposed to be conservatively exciting and it should conventionally have commercial appeal, but I'm too sarcastic and I know people are bound to get pissed. Go ahead, drop it on the passenger seat of you car and point it out to someone and ask them what they think the cd must be about. So long as they are unfamiliar with the name on it, you'll get some interesting answers...well, in America at least. I've never really left the east coast for too long, so I can't really tell you about people in other parts of the world.
I should go on with the classic hiphopsection.com questions...what's on your playlist these days?
Otis Redding. Frank Sinatra. Merle Travis. Henry Mancini. Kurupt. Lil Wayne. Creedence Clearwater Revival. Otis Redding the most by far, and Kurupt. And Henry Mancini is good for bbqs that's all. And a lot of 50's Underground Doowop (maybe you might call it, all I know is that I haven't heard of any of this stuff before)...in the past maybe month or so that's just what I have been listening to a lot of.
A lot of hiphop heads in Europe don't understand English, do you think they can still appreciate hiphop music to its full extent?
But it's not the same though. Second only to rhythm, vocals are what controls and creates the hip hop music, at least that which I help to create. But to the full extent of what the artist intended? No. What the artist intended didn't really ever matter anyways though. So there's a million and one ways to look at and maybe try and appreciate something like that. I guess a question might answer it, a lot of hiphop heads in America don't understand French, do you think they can still appreciate French hiphop music to its full extent? I'm still uncomfortable listening to it. It's not something I might put on if we were chillin the most. It's still too heavy to me, I have to do so much work to hear it. It's like I don't want to have to think about it all of the time when I am listening to it everytime, but I do because I am always trying to figure it out. So I guess the isht has to be really good if you don't understand it but like it a lot. So I guess it is a real huge compliment to have people that don't understand English be interested in the isht I work on. I'd say thanks to you right now, but you speak English and you're a jerk.
When can we hope to see you and your friends in France?
Oh, some day, but I doubt you'll see me, I'm behind the scenes.
Last words and shout outs...
Peace to Devon (the model, not the pornstar), Kobe Tai (the pornstar, not the ball player), Bruce Willis, Kurt Russel, Pedro Martinez, and Manny Ramirez.
Since the interview, Jeep Jack has started working on new material with Microft Holmes. Word is he has also started to learn French. Most of his cds and 12"s are or will be available at Waxexpress.com. If that doesn't work, you can always email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he might hook you up. Non-English heads that wish to get down with Record Company Records can contact email@example.com (but you probably won't be reading this if you don't speak English).
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