. Apr 29, 2008

(Click on the album cover to download the album)

I ran across this cat from the We Do It Right blog (Shout Out to Santos), and from the start I thought this guy’s flow and production was mad creative. Jay Who, a student of the game, samples from across the board, and keeps it fresh. With so many rappers consistently coming out of the Chi, Jay Who still manages to stand out with a unique sound.

Jay Who’s personality is apparent throughout “Where Da Sidewalk Ends” and he provides a refreshing sense of humor He is not scared to let his comedic side let loose on “Computer Luv” that has a crazy, twisted ending that you got to listen to in order to find out. This is also evident in the hilarious Little Bus skits poking fun at Soulja Boy.

A hot track on the album is “Apollo Creed” that of course samples from the classic “Rocky” flick with the epic trumpets banging on the back of the track. Jay Who’s staccato flow in this track flows well with the beat as he begins talking about some of the greatest fighters in their prime, “He Roy Jones before that boy seen Tarver…He Mike Tyson before Robin Givens…. He De La Hoya with Floyd Senior lessons”. The Lil’ Wayne sample, “But I’m the Champion where’s the f*ckin Rocky Theme…. But I’m the Champion Rest in Peace Apollo Creed.” is the cherry on top as it adds to the swagger on this track. Man, to keep it real, this is a track to bump in your car with the bass up.

On “In High School”, my favorite track aside “Apollo Creed”, Jay took a snippet from 50 Cent’s track “Wanksta” and plays it over a soulful beat. Jay Who also does an amazing job of carrying out a hip-hop tradition, storytelling. Jay takes a humble perspective and spits with compassion about the fall of grace of the high school football captain with prospects to turn pro that turned into a nobody and the prom queen he once was fond that turned into a dope fiend. Jay’s wit and wordplay is evident on the line, “She used to have an hour glass / Must of a ran out of time / Cause these days she’s without an ass.” He also gets deep on the track towards the end of the track as he raps, “ What was once lust transformed to sympathy / The empathy was killing me / Let her sit with me / We conversated for like two hours straight/ The main topic was getting her straight…at least I finally got that date.”

I was too happy when I got to “Second Life” because I found one my favorite R&B tracks ever sampled and looped in Carl Thomas’ “I Wish.” Jay Who provides a revival of the track although he changes its meaning for a different vibe. Other standout samples, and tracks are Rhianna’s “Unfaithful” on “Anymore” and Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Going Down” on “Bullet.”

Don’t sleep on this CD. Jay Who has a lot to offer. I wanted to know more about Jay Who upon listening to his album so I contacted him via Myspace and he was eagerly willing to answer further questions, so check out the interview below.

Ill Vibes Exclusive Interview with Jay Who?

1. So I'm feeling the album cover and title. I know it's a take off the Shel Silverstein book, does this hold any personal meaning to you?

Thanks a lot I appreciate it. All through elementary school I probably checked that book out over 50-60 times literally; along with Light in the Attic (which is my next album by the way). It was one of those books that really spoke to you because the poems were so random but simultaneously it made sense; which is kind of the approach to my cd- very random but making sense at the same time. But the crazy thing about the book is how it transcends past generational gaps. It was written in 1974 and one of my friends's son who is in 3rd grade now has a copy and Im like wow!!! So I picked it up and read it from an adult perspective and was blown away with the creativity of it!!! So it was only right that I flipped it. Plus it has a double meaning in my mind because the sidewalk ending is a representation of the ending of a bullshit era that we are in hip-hop wise as well as in American life with Bush's term ending as well as the war. This album allowed me to let off some steam and the response from the people who have heard the album has been incredible so I'm thinking I may have hit a nerve. The follow up which is titled "The Lite in the Addict" starts where this left off and takes things up about 20 notches.

2. What is your musical background? How did you get into making beats and flowing, and which rappers/producers influenced you?

I've pretty much been making beats since junior high. I've been rapping since elementary school and my high school aged uncle lived in our home in the 80's and 90's and I am sort of a byproduct of his irresponsibility. He had all of these records and tapes laying around the house and Im a fuckin elementary school kid listening to Kool G Rap slicing up prostitutes go figure!!! Nice and Smooth, NWA, Lyte, Cube, PE, Sweet T, BDP, and Tribe all of this is going on in my head while all of my friends are listening to New Kids on The Block. As far as making beats I started out doing it out of necessity. I needed beats to rap on and I could never find beats like what I was hearing from my favorite artists at the time so I ended up hustling up on some dough and copped an MPC 2000 and its been lights out ever since. As far as my influences I'd be here forever but off top I would have to say Premier, Rza and Marley Marl are my biggest influences, they are at the top of the hip-hop producer pyramid. I spent countless nights studying Primo. Outside of those three- Alchemist, JuJu from Beatnuts, Ali Shaheed, Bomb Squad, No I.D. Nottz, DJ Scratch, Erick Sermon, Prince Paul, Wild Style, Hi-Tek, 4th Disciple, Beatminerz, Shawn J Period, Bink!, Just Blaze. Rappers that influenced me hmmm too many. Ras Kass, Mos Def, J Treds, Common, Eminem, The whole Wu Tang, Nasty Nas, OC, Jay Z, El-P, Murs, MF Doom, Kane, Slick Rick, Nice and Smooth, Guru.

3. Favorite rapper and producer in the game right now?

My favorite rappers right now is between Murs and Sean Price, hands down!!!!The only albums that I am really really waiting for are the follow ups to the last Murs & 9th collab and the new Sean Price. Im in love with Jean literally in love with her....restraining orderish type love. The Jean and 9th "Jeanius" CD is one horribly slept on album; lyrically she is from another planet and 9th does his thing. As far as new heads I mess with Cool Kids they are definitely killin it with the swag, Skyzoo, Torae, Pacific Division, Lupe Fiasco, Mickey Factz. Producer wise again 9th Wonder, Just Blaze, Khrysis, Alchemist, Chad West, Timbaland, Nicolay, Madlib, Doom, Kanye West, Illmind, No I.D., Pharell, Dilla!!!

4. Drop five of your all time favorite hip-hop tracks and shed some light on them. They don't have to be in any particular order.

Thats easy #1 is "Ay Bay Bay"....sorry bad joke! Seriously I have so many but what comes to mind quickly- I would have to go with Tribe "Lyrics To Go"their strong point had always been in their choice of sampling and the way they flipped the Minnie Ripperton "Inside My Love" sample is incredible. Alchemist and Jadakiss- "We Gon' Make It" Wow!!! To appreciate this you have to listen to the original song by Samuel Jonathan Johnson "My Music" pointblank period Alchemist is a motherfucker!! Raekwon "Verbal Intercourse" what more can I really say the hip-hop gods were working overtime. Company Flow "The Fire In Which You Burn"...this song is the definition of NYC hip-hop late 90's early 2000's. Group Home "Suspended in Time" wow!!!. And one more Alchemist banger for the books-Mobb Deep and Kool G Rap "The Realest" is insanity.

5. Where do you place yourself in the Chicago Hip Hop Movement with perennial players in the game like Common, Twista, Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco and up and coming rappers like Rhymefest, The Cool Kids, and Kid Sister?

Umm honestly I can only be a welcomed addition because I pretty much stand out on my own musically. Each person you just metioned is nothing like the other or like me and that is the beauty of the Chicago movement. And its funny because as soon as I say the 3 magic words together, rapper/producer/from Chicago I instantly get hit with the Kanye comparison; but once people hear me they realize we are 2 totally different artists. I actually think that I am what is missing in Chicago, not in an egotistical way, but from a perspective that I speak for and to audiences the others dont..

6. Are you currently collaborating with any DJs or artists and are you in contact with any record labels?

Currently I am focused on the next album. Im really, really into making quality, solid albums I can not stress that point enough. I feel that the mixtape era has ruined the art of album making. Where it made it all about quantity and reaching out to a million different rappers regardless if the artistic direction matched- like why is Jim Jones on a track with Mos Def? Are you serious? Get real!!Not that Im against collabing because I plan on collabing and a few artists have reached out to me lately. But dont expect me to be some song whore selling out to the first phone call or collabing for the sake of collabing. But Im no fool because if Soulja Boy calls me with a $100,000 dollar check then just maybe hahaha.....but seriously I want to bring back the days of the album experience and give my fans 150%. On top of the fact that the bulk of my songs are stories and conceptual songs that I write and produce myself it really doesnt make sense to collab too much. But I will reaching be out to Skyzoo, Mickey Factz, Pac Div. As far as labels are concerned I have taken a few meetings with some independents and although deep down Im ready to jump on them and just sign away, my lawyer always brings me back to reality. But right now my main focus is growing my fanbase and making sure they are receiving quality music. That is my main focus-quality. It is so important and overlooked.

7. Here at Ill Vibes, we have been broadcasting music from other genres than Hip-Hop and R&B such as electronica and alternative music. I've seen how you have branched out of Hip Hop as you sampled Fall Out Boy on "Bullet." So what other genre of music are you feeling outside of Hip-Hop and which artists?

Outside of hip-hop I would say my second favorite genre is late 60's to late 70's rock hands down!! I just uploaded the whole Beatles catalog to my mp3 player groups like Chicago, Supertramp, 10CC, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, AC/DC, Hendrix, The Doors. Those records are not only great for sampling but you can sit back and enjoy them.....and then go sample them later hahahaha. After that I would have to say 90's alternative/grunge Nirvana, Green Day, Oasis, Pumpkins, The Cranberries. I love 80's pop shit Prince, Michael, New Edition, Duran Duran, Eurhythmics, U2, any of that old Brat Pack movie sountrack shit! Shout out to Molly Ringwald!! I like a little of everything. Yea a lot of producers sleep on Fall Out Boy, Pete Wentz has a unique voice the whole whining and crying Emo thing is crazy, hahahah I love em though...pause.

8. Ok, last question. So you are in the studio about to start making a beat or track, how do you start out? What's your creative process?

It depends sometime I might have a crazy loop to sample from on an old record and just build from that point. But if its not a loop based track then I start with the drums and go from there. My process is a little different and weird because I approach songs kind of like sneakers because every sneaker has a different style and comes from a different era but are still relevent and appreciated today. For instance "I Bring It" and "Tootie" thats like a retro pair of dunks or Jordan 2 's right there, thats me flipping the 87-90 steeze because that is what I wanted to rock that day. One day I might want to put on some Goretex or Timberland boots that would be equal to "Second Life" thats my 94-96 steeze. You get the picture. Songs are like sneakers to me. And I have a closet full of sneakers from different eras and I love them all its the exact same way with my songs. Thats It pretty much it was good talking to you. I just want to send a shout out to my partner Rize Knitti, Dre Cagney, Chris Forte, Ice Gre!! All the streetwear spots in Chicago- Juggrnaut, St Alfreds, Solemates, Leaders, PHLI!!! And everyone who took the time to download the album and listen I appreciate it.

Jay Who? "Lite in The Addict" coming August 2008.

For more information on Jay Who? or if you want to contact him, check out his Myspace.