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Interview With Rapper/Producer J57

What makes a great producer and/or mc? In my opinion, it’s someone who loves/respects the culture and knows the history…

What makes a great producer and/or mc? In my opinion, it’s someone who loves/respects the culture and knows the history of it – and let’s not forget they gotta be nice with it. J57 checks off all those boxes. A former Fat Beats NYC employee, J was mentored by DJ Premier and Marco Polo. A member of the Brown Bag All-Stars, he’s quickly becoming a go-to producer and rhyme slinger. After listening to his latest release, the 2057 EP, I had to reach out to him.

In the interview below, he talks about how he connected with Brown Bag, DJ Premier’s influence on his music, his upcoming projects and more.

Introduce yourself to our readers.

I’m J57. I’m an emcee/producer originally from Long Island but been living in Brooklyn for the past nine years.

You’re currently in Australia – can you share with us what you’re doing there?

I’m putting in studio work with Aussie heavy hitters like The Thundamentals, LMXEC, and more. I also found time to link up with the homies Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly and Statik Selektah to work on my solo album (where I rap over my beats).

How did you get involved in hip-hop? Who were some of your influences?

I became a fan of hip hop at a very young age. But, I didn’t ”participate” until 11th grade in high school when I started to freestyle and beatbox in ciphers at parties and high school, etc.

You’ve mentioned that DJ Premier is a mentor to you – how did you first meet him?

I met him when I worked at Fat Beats but became tight with him while at SIRIUS/XM at “Rap Is Outta Control” when he would fill in for DJ Eclipse, when he was on tour.

How has he helped you develop as a producer?

He’s helped my mentality as well as being able to see how he levels his beats on the mixing board; seeing how loud he puts the bass, the bass-kick, snare, hi-hat, etc. I would go home after a long session with him and just imitate what he did level-wise for a long time and that really helped my sound for sure. What I mean by mentality is, I picked up on a lot of key words that he always used to describe producers he thought were dope, by calling them “creative” and stuff like that, so it made me want to push the envelope even more. His work ethic is unparalleled and his passion for making quality music, as well, so I learned a lot from him in those departments, too, just from being in the same room with him.

What’s your relationship with Marco Polo?

I met Marco 10 years ago at Fat Beats and became tight with him right away. He always took me under his wing, which I’ll always be grateful for. I used not to put basslines on my beats because I was awful and didn’t understand how to put them in key. He noticed and took me to Marco Polo bassline camp about 5 or 6 years ago. He’s the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back, if you’re down with him and has always given me his old records for samples, which has been such a great. To hear a sample he flipped and figured out how he flipped it.

Interview With Rapper/Producer J57
I would go home after a long session with him (Dj Premier) and just imitate what he did level-wise … that really helped my sound…
– J57

You’re a member of the Brown Bag All-Stars – how did you get involved with them?

We started Brown Bag AllStars back in the summer of 2007. We were all friends that worked at Fat Beats / met at Fat Beats and decided to get in the lab one day and the rest is history.

Do you ever find it difficult being both an MC and (extremely) active producer?

It was close to impossible to do both for a good 7 years; there were years where I just focused on making beats and rapping took a backseat. There were times where I wouldn’t make beats and just focus on rhyming…but now I have it all figured out. I’m finally 50/50 and just as passionate about both…and loving it!

One of the projects you have coming up (that we’re particularly excited about) is the Brown Bag x Pro Era collaboration project. Can you give us any details about it? What can we expect?

That album is the A La $OLE x J57 project. I first got in contact with A La a little over a year ago. He was on tour with the homie Joey Bada$$ and Joey was playing one of the joints I produced for him while on their tour bus, so he wanted beats. I dug his rhymes, so we organically linked up and decided to do a project. It’s just some dope beats and rhymes. We’re very like-minded as people and we’re both as hungry as you can be, so expect us both to bring our “A Game.”

You also have an upcoming record with one my fave artists, Homeboy Sandman. What can you tell me about that project? How did you connect him?

We’re almost finished with our EP, and it’s fucking dope. I met Sandman in 2008 or 2009 at Fat Beats and started working together from then on. He’s one of my favorite people in the world; as an emcee and as a person. We have a joint on there that he said Peanut Butter Wolf went crazy over…..so I can die happy now haha.

What else do you have coming up in 2015?

Koncept & J57 “The Fuel” EP
Brown Bag AllStars album
Antcs EP (indie group I’m in with a singer named Vein aka Jesse Mechanic)
Tigereye (indie group I’m in with Joe Rogers and ATR)
MAK3RS EP (indie group I’m in with a singer/producer named Matt Stamm)
J57 “We Can Be Kings” LP (where I rap over my beats)
J57 “L/NDM1NES” EP (instrumental)
J57 “0057: FlaskLIFE” EP (instrumental)
Mike Two EP Produced by me

Top 3 albums ever – go!

The Mars Volta “De-Loused in the Comatorium.”
Nas “Illmatic.”
Radiohead “Kid A.”

How do you balance being part of so many groups and active DJ on Sirius XM?

My life is extremely scheduled from the second I wake up til the second I go to sleep. I kind of don’t have time for much out side of music, which sucks, but it could be worse haha. I have every minute planned out a week in advance to get as much music made as possible each day. Don’t have time for spontaneity.

Do you have any last words you’d like to leave our readers with?

Go to J57Music.com right now to check out more of music! Thanks!

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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He also reveals four albums on deck.

When it comes to career longevity without selling out the original vision — and ultimately the core integrity — of your brand, no OG rappers have managed to continue rocking shit the way that way Sadat X (a third of Brand Nubian) and El Da Sensei of The Artifacts have. Longtime fixtures on the European scene, the two have been peers for years, but it wasn’t until three years ago that the two decided to bless longtime fans and deep-rooted Hip Hop heads with a joint LP titled XL.

 
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With well over two decades in the game, El explains it’s his love of the sport of Hip Hop that keeps him dedicated to his craft. “I think we show longevity working with new producers and keeping a fresh sound; we’re not compromising to fit in,” he says of this collaboration. “We try to set trends rather than follow,” he adds.

“That keeps the fans inspired. We still love it and its also a job….gotta love what you do right?”

Their love is evident. A peruse of either of the rappers Instagram illustrates them living their best lives; from wine to merch, they’ve been able to endure through countless eras and trends since first rising to prominence with their respective crews.

 
“You have to love the craft and be a participant cant sit on the sidelines warming the bench,” he explains. “We have merch out there, continuous releases … you have to be working even more than before. There are so many outlets to use now. We can sell ourselves more than ever.”

“You have to be yourself … nobody can be me and X. So we push that still!”

When it came the delayed (but worth the wait) LP, El notes that every verse they laid made the cut. “Every song made it except for the one we leaked, ‘We Must Stand’ prod by 9th Wonder. We have a song on deck ready for the next single as a bonus, but everything made the final version,” he says.

Fans who have come expect feverish release schedules from the duo (individually) have lots to look forward to — in addition to a tour of the USA and one in Europe kicking off March 2019. “We definitely working on the next XL project immediately,” El says with a laugh. “I have about 4 albums ready to go on deck for the next 2 years … I’ve been busy.”

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Rising Malaysian Star Zamaera Is Poised For Greatness

Z chats Malaysian Hip Hop culture, her new project, and much more.

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23-year-old Malaysian MC Zamaera has been slowly bubbling onto many radars as of late. After appearing on a viral installment of Yo! MTV Rap Asia’s Rap Cypher, knocking out her first festival appearance, and dropping a buzzing new single titled “Z vs Z” ahead of the upcoming EP of the same name, she is primed and ready to take things to the next level.

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She’s accomplished a lot — considering her debut video dropped just over a year and a half ago. This year, she was blessed with the opportunity to journey to the US to develop and focus her craft, and her career. It was here that Z vs. Z was born.

“It was a very reflective period for me,” she notes of the experience. “I did all of the creative work while I was there. I worked with the amazing producer Floyd “Timeless” Thomas, writing the lyrics. I also teamed up with the ever so talented creative director — Kanya Iwana — and the most brilliant ALL FEMALE TEAM, Savannah Chonis, Francesca Martin, Nawel Abdelaziz, and Shaina Santos for the album artwork.

 
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During her recent appearance at the Good Vibes Festival in Selangor, Malaysia, she had a chance to debut her two-month labor of love in front of a receptive audience — an experience she doesn’t take for granted.

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With a dizzying 2018 thus far — and an even more jarring 2019 ahead — Zamaera’s current mood is focusing on her mind, body, and soul. With an endorsement deal with Nike Malaysia, her project, and (if it all pans out the right way) a tour, you can hardly blame her for cherishing a little downtime.

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World Premiere: Koncept Takes To The Night Streets Of Seoul In “Fuck You Music” Visual

The song is about anyone that ever told you that you couldn’t do something or that you couldn’t accomplish your dreams,” Koncept explains.

AAHH proudly presents the second of five new visuals by Brown Bag All-Stars alum Koncept, who we’ve been rocking with for a minute now. Set amid the futuristic looking night lights of Seoul, South Korea, the song, “Fuck You Music” — which appears on the Sony Asia release 14 Hours Ahead as “You Music” — is a middle finger to anyone who ever tried to hold you back.

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The song is about anyone that ever told you that you couldn’t do something or that you couldn’t accomplish your dreams … [that] you can’t go after what you believe in. This is a big fuck you,” he explains.

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#Interview: RoQy TyRaiD in ‘PLYNwcha’

RoQy TyRaiD drops a brand-new single “PLYNwcha” produced by NYC’s Motif Alumni with a psychedelic backbeat over hypnotic chants that…

RoQy TyRaiD drops a brand-new single “PLYNwcha” produced by NYC’s Motif Alumni with a psychedelic backbeat over hypnotic chants that groove. With an edgy prose, RoQy TyRaiD takes Hip Hop to the next level and Above Average Hip Hop wanted to know more. What can be said about his subject matter personifies the culture that raised him. Coming up in the game can be a struggle, but for RoQy, it’s all about keeping it real. “I don’t have to play by the rules. I’m going to do what I want, and I’m going to find my success regardless,” says RoQyTyRaiD.   

I get placed on this green planet for a finite amount of time and I don’t feel like I’m surrendering any of that to people who are championing consistencies and stratification and all of that nonsense. – RoQy TyRaiD

However, there are different modes of success, and whether it equates to monetizing your product or artistically expressing and further developing your brand, the rapper RoQy TyRaiD stays true to his values in the culture that brought him his new single “PLYNwcha.”

Tell me about RoQy TyRaiD. Who are you and where are you from?   

I reside in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m originally from southern California, born and raised. I’m just here to advance my artistic pursuits and find myself deeper in the culture that inspired me and gave me a live soundtrack. I feel that artists, at the end of the day, are just glorified fans. I’m finding my way further in the culture that inspired me, and this is why I’m here.

Some would describe you as a socially conscious rapper. How would you describe your subject matter?

I mean, people have classified me like that. I’m just more aware to life. I mean, it happens to fall in it in terms of just discerning your surroundings. Unfortunately, and fortunately as opposed to politics and things related, social climate plays a role. So, I could say, you know, they’re right. I’m just a normal dude.  I mean sometimes the content touches on political topics.

What is your most recent single?

It’s called “PLYNwcha.” It’s me flexing my capabilities lyrically, providing some hype music. I’m breaking away from the direction that I was sent down artistically and just getting back to making music that makes you want to throw a merch table across the venue. I detail instances where I was just being delivered pipe dreams just waiting for this nonexistent idea of success or mythical ideas and just really being fed up with it. I guess I deliver it in a more aggressive energy forward manner. But what it is — I have no time.

I’m not like a 21-year-old dude who can play trial and error. I get placed on this green planet for a finite amount of time and I don’t feel like I’m surrendering any of that to people who are championing consistencies and stratification and all of that nonsense. We’re with the advent of social media, Internet, and advancing technology. I don’t have to play by your rules. I’m going to do what I want and I’m going to find my success regardless. I guess it’s realizing that feeling and you know, taking the gloves off.

It sounds like you have a different set of values on what constitutes success. Would you say that is accurate?

Absolutely, my role is looked at differently from the next man or woman. Even describing the adversities and the games and you know, standards you have to abide by. For example, I have two sold-out dates in the UK, another one lined up press and individuals waiting to get the piece of this new music and you know, I think that reflects taking your destiny by your own hands as opposed to abiding by what you’re told to do.

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