Whuttup Wednesday: J-Zone Edition

Hooray!!!  So I got a great interview I did with the homie J-Zone who I have been in and out of communication with on the interwebs for about 10 years now; let’s get down on the get down…

Interview With J-Zone


Had a chance to trade some messages with long time internet buddy and excellent producer J-Zone about his new album Peter Pan Syndrome which is out Sept 5th (mahhh Birfffday!) as a self release, so if you’d like to grab a copy and support the homie pick it up HERE.

HDS: You have a new album out now “Peter Pan Syndrome” tell me about why you decided to name it that?

JZone: People were using that term every time I Googled my life views. Like “what if you’re 36 and not married?” or “what if you’ve never had a ‘real’ job?” or “what if you don’t want kids?” The results were “you have Peter Pan Syndrome and it’s time to grow up!” All of those things are like rites of passage into adulthood in America and my path has been different. Plus you get on Facebook and see all your peers going a certain route and there’s this pressure to assimilate before time runs out. Everyone was telling me I haven’t grown up yet despite me having responsibilities and taking care of them. They’re just different responsibilities, but it’s like you haven’t grown up if you enjoy the same things you did at age 22. I just think the whole concept of “growing up” and what it entails is interesting and very subjective, and it’s very relevant with the current generational friction between hip-hop artists, so I chose to address it. 

HDS: I know from previous interviews and chats we’ve had in the past, you were very frustrated with the recording industry as a whole.  Why choose now to release and album?

 JZone: It just happened by accident like all my albums. I needed an outlet and wasn’t ready to write another book. It happened on its own. Plus, I fared horribly in the square nine-to five world; I job hunted for 3 years and didn’t find anything that paid more than $50 a day after expenses and taxes. Tried it anyway and got burnt out, made less money than I did when I was a struggling artist and hated life. I just need to figure out how to make a fuckin’ living out of the stuff I’m good at.

HDS: You taught yourself to play drums recently, was that a decision based on creating new music or just for fun?

 JZone: All my life I’ve had something musical going on, so when I got frustrated and bitter with the business and left it in 2010, it wasn’t long before I needed some kind of musical outlet. I was DJing, but I wanted to create some new music, something I hadn’t already done. I was a bassist as a kid, so I was gonna pick bass back up, but I figured this would be the time to take a new instrument and start fresh. Initially it was just for fun and then I got serious about drumming about six months in. 

HDS: You were absent from producing and rapping for quite a span there, what did you learn from your time away from being a musician if anything?

 JZone: I learned that no matter what financial problems I have and what this business throws me, I can’t allow it to defeat me to the point I stop creating. I got back into music with realistic expectations and controlled enthusiasm, but I can’t allow the ways of the business and it’s financial issues to kill what I enjoy. I made that mistake last time.

HDS: What about this record made you feel you had to put it out and get back into doing music again?

JZone: I feel the subject matter is relevant to hip-hop heads my age and people my age in general. A lot of people take a path in life because they feel society says that have to or they’ll be alienated and ostracized, but deep down they may want something else. I also wanted to see what would happen with my production if I added the drumming, faster tempos and some of the things I picked up just listening to different kinds of music over the last few years. 

HDS: Do you still rock your Walkman at the gym?

 JZone: Sadly, no. I got an iPod shuffle and I’ll admit it makes it easier to work out with music. 

HDS: Ke$ha, for or against?

JZone: I don’t know who that is.

HDS: I know you have produced guest tracks for Has-Lo and others, what’s the connection there? 

JZone: Has used to send me links to his music and I liked it, but it was during that time when I wanted nothing to do with music whatsoever. Then he hit me for a remix after my book dropped and people dug it. We started talking more and realized we both wanted to try some of the same ideas, so I got him on my album on some storytelling shit. Has is ill.

 HDS: How often do the REAL Mumford and sons jam?

JZone: Pops visits NY once a month so we jam for a bit. He plays keys and I’ll get on the drums. We play jazz stuff because I’m trying to learn jazz drumming chops.

HDS: What, if anything, are you hoping to achieve with this album and 7”?

JZone: Just resonate with thirty-somethings who were hip-hop kids, maybe get some production work or play drums for some records. I’m working on improving my drum chops. I’ve got a lot of work to do but am taking lessons to get to the next level and hopefully I can find my own niche with all the stuff I do and people can come to me for specialty things like customized drum breaks, concept records, movies, etc. Not trying to compete in and re-enter the rapper arena fully, though. No interest in that at all. 

 HDS: How do you think the industry has changed since you put out your first record; is it a good or a bad thing for artists?

 JZone: Playing field is much more level and less segregated by subgenre. No more backpacker rap vs swag rap, it’s all blurred. The internet leveled the playing field; we’re all competing for the same coverage, but I’m shooting for a certain demographic. I don’t care about getting burn on worldstarhiphop.com. It’s good because we all have an equal shot but it’s bad because it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle.

HDS : Any last thoughts?

JZone : Never grow up!

And While you are doing the listening thing, check this interview I did with J a loooong time ago, possibly in a galaxy far away.  Sorry I don’t have it in stream format, gonna have to DL it…Wah Wah



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