Artists like JG are truly redefining what it is to be a rap artist in today's hip-hop world. We've seen a complete metamorphosis in terms of what artists represent, and not only how they're portrayed, but how they present themselves. For those who have been around long enough to witness hip-hop from the eighties, through the nineties, and right into the new millennium, many will argue that we've watch the slow death of what we once knew. We've seen it start from artists coming with real "message" music to those who weren't saying anything at all. It had become more s stage show than anything, and not many truly respected the essence of the craft. In essence, it was no different than someone working a job simply for a paycheck, which goes against the whole code because the idea is that people are doing what they love. We're now arriving at a place where artists are becoming more attuned with themselves, and using the stories of their lives not only to elevate themselves, but connect their to the rest of the world. More importantly, we're seeing more artists with a genuine love for the art form, and it's reflecting in the product.
We recently ran the debut of JG's "Birds in LA", which feature Rich the Kid. With one watch if the clip, its clear to see he's bringing back the essence of hip-hop that has been missing for a long time. While he's not drilling you with any particular message, it's clear he's having fun, and his heart is in it. It gives you a sense not only of what can be expected from his album, but also the direction hip-hop is heading, and how things are truly
coming back around.
JG sat down to talk with us about the new single, the idea he had behind the track, and how this, as well as the upcoming barrage of singles will strategically lead us into his EP, which we'll likely get later this year.
U.G. Digital Mag: I appreciate you sitting down with us bro. Kudos for all that’s happening your way.
JG: Thank you man. I appreciate that.
U.G. Digital Mag: Start off first by talking about Birds in LA. There’s a lot that I can really appreciate, not just about the song, but also your delivery, overall flow, and I think the style you’re bringing is needed right now. There’s a lot in hip-hop that I struggle with in terms of direction, but you’re taking it in the right direction. With that in mind, talk about the single and your goals for that?
JG: Well I mean, with that record, just getting rich on it was a big thing because I wanted it to get the recognition it deserved. I felt like the verses were hot, and I was just trying to establish myself. Before this, I hadn’t had anything out there, so I was trying to establish myself, get on a record with somebody who may be in a different lane than myself, but also showcase what I’m trying to bring to the table. I feel like the record doesn’t have any real meaning per se, and its definitely not a political message. It’s just a dope record. I was showcasing my lyrical ability.
U.G. Digital Mag: I think people who look at it can see that there's not necessarily a cockiness, but more a level of confidence. Overall, it’s like I’m here, this is me, and this is what you get.
JG: Basically that's it. It’s really something that you speak about the confidence, because for me, it something that comes out more in my music. It’s like I’m two people. On the mic, things I want to say, that side of me comes out more.
U.G. Digital Mag: I think that’s good. How do you feel like taking it back to your own life, this will allow you to show more of that confidence outside of music?
JG: It’s not that I’m not confident. Im just not flamboyant or boastful. I don’t seek that, and my goal isn’t to flex on people. My goal is to make good music and hopefully, people will relate to my music. I don’t think this will really reflect superficially, but I am confident in my abilities. I’m just more reserved.
U.G. Digital Mag: I think a lot of people can appreciate that, and relate. I see where your influence comes from, and obviously you listen to the J. Coles, and those artists who people label as “artists with something to say”. I think people see it, but at the same time, you’re your own artist. Talk about how this single leads into the album?
JG: It’s definitely the lead-off to the album. I really was trying to set things up in terms of what you could expect. It’s a little different to me. The vibes on the album, and this song in particular, it’s more melodic. "My Side" is more upbeat, more wavy and club vib-ish. I try to give something for everybody, but at the same time, deliver a message throughout the project. That’s what I want people to take away from this. I have songs to turn up to, but then I also have songs where you have to sit back, listen, and think. Like you said, J. Cole and other artists are my inspiration, but I also realize there’s a fine line that you have to straddle. People don’t want to just be put to sleep, and unfortunately, we live in a time where the attention span Is not what it once was. It’s changed a little, so I try to cater to that, but also do what I love to do.
U.G. Digital Mag: I think in terms of attention, a lot of people just want more artists who will bend the lines and be different. I think what helps a lot is being independent. There’s so much happening on the independent front, and you have the ability to do so much more of what you want. People see that creativity within you, and can see you’re not being guided in terms of what someone else thinks is hot.
JG: That’s pretty much what it is. I don’t like being labeled, and being put in a box. If I want to make a super melodic record and then come back to make an east coast rap record, I like to exercise my freedom to do just that. That’s more of the artistry I want people to see. With these first 4-5 records, it’s a bit of every aspect of that. I’m hoping people get out of it what I’m trying to put into it.
U.G. Digital Mag: I think they will. Even going back to "Birds in LA", I immediately felt it, and that’s a compliment in the highest form because being honest, I don’t easily get into a lot of music today. It’s not even in a disrespectful way either.
JG: Right. No disrespect, it’s just not your lane.
U.G. Digital Mag: Right. But I played it, and felt it right away. Then my son, who is ten years old by the way, listened and could vibe to it. You can reach people of all age ranges, which is cool. I think people, again, can appreciate that. What happens between now and later this year when it drops?
JG: Right now, we have about 4-5 records lined up. We’re just building the fanbase. It’s been a while since I've released any music. A lot of people have not heard of me, and for those who have, it’s been a while since I put anything out. So it’s connecting with the new fans, and recapturing old ones. There isn't a date set in stone yet.
U.G. Digital Mag: The reality too is that people don’t even need the date because as long as you keep coming the way you are, people will take to it, and regardless of when it drops, people will support because it’s something tangible.
JG: Yea. I have a lot of music ready. My problem is I’m always eager to drop it. I think things are going in the right direction though. I think it’ll be a good year.
U.G. Digital Mag: For people who want to check you out, we have the social media, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud, and YouTube accounts. Where else can people check you out?
JG: I have my Facebook page, which gets the most interaction. I know Facebook is not really so big, but I get a lot of interaction there.
U.G. Digital Mag: It actually depends on the artist. Some actually do better with Instagram and Twitter, but those who have more engagement, they do better on Facebook. It just depends.
JG: Yea like me, I’ve neglected Twitter. I barely tweet, and I’m trying to get better, but it just isn’t my thing.
U.G. Digital Mag: Everyone has their thing. I neglect Snapchat. Some people are religious to Snapchat.
JG: Right. Also I have a few records on Spotify, and Pandora. I have one on Apple music, and we're working on getting the rest up there. The music coming now will hit all of those outlets. Other than that, that’s about it. Worldstar obviously also. I think that’s about it.
U.G. Digital Mag: What about your personal site?
JG: It's www.iamjgforreal.com
U.G. Digital Mag: Any final comments at all?
JG: Not really. I feel like we touched on some good stuff. Really, I’m not even going down that route [laughing].
U.G. Digital Mag: I just want to say I really appreciate you. Your artistry makes me want to do what I do. I relate to your comments about being in a box, and that goes for any industry. In terms of journalism or black media, if I write for others, which I have, and do here and there, it’s easy to get put in a box in terms of what you can and cannot cover, and the way you go about it. Having my own allows me to talk about what the artists really want to talk about. I appreciate being able to connect, and I thoroughly appreciate your music.
JG: It’s a blessing to have this conversation. Everything happens so fast, and it’s been a long time. We just launched the campaign, and it’s happening so fast. The main thing is I don’t want to be in a box. If somebody is not feeling this record, just wait a minute, and you’ll feel the next one. I touch on certain areas just to show I can do this, and I also can do that. It’s not to say I don’t have a style; I just do what the fuck I want to do musically.