Monday, November 26, 2012

Brooklyn Native Jay Walker Lives for the Art of Hip-Hop

Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Jay Walker and I am a rapper, singer and songwriter. I am from Brooklyn, NY and I make music of the hip-hop genre, own a recording studio and do my best at being an entrepreneur. 

Why do you rap, and why is it so important to you?
Well, I would be lying if I told you I could answer that. I think when you truly love to do something, the answer just isn't as simple as the question makes it seem. I mean, if you ask somebody why they eat food, the answer would be because they are hungry, or because they need to. But if you ask someone why they love someone, the answer is always different and not always explainable. That is the way I feel about hip-hop. Listening to music has always been an escape for me, a way to experience something I have never experienced before or to listen to someone explain the way I feel and realize that I am not alone in certain ways. The experience became so profound that I decided to pursue it from the other side by creating. I think if people said I sucked, I still would do it because there is a large part of me that writes music for myself. Sort of like a journal. But a part of why I push so hard is because of the confidence other people put in me. But, like I said, loaded question and I could go on for days. 

Growing up, what emcees really influenced you and shaped you as a rapper?
You know, I like this question because I feel like we are at the point in hip-hop where we are seeing a new generation of old school emcees. What I mean by that is, it is funny to see rappers my age get asked this question and turn around shooting names out like Run DMC, Slick Rick, Public Enemy, NWA, Ice T... and while those emcees set the foundation for what hip-hop is today, I am not going to lie and say they are my influence. This brings me back to my new generation comment. When I was younger and first introduced to hip-hop, the ones I idealized and wanted to be so much like were Jay Z, DMX, Big L, Big Pun, Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Ludacris, Jadakiss, Fabolous... The list goes on. People seem to forget that even though most of them are still around, these rappers were the ones hot during the 90s. Do I know my history? Sure, but I didn't grow up in the 80s. 

What separates you as an artist above all the other up and comers?
Hunger and quality. I am an extremely motivated individual and I think that shows if you have ever met me. I also feel I have a distinct voice/style and my production/formatting is excellent. While I wouldn't say I release the most material, but when I do I think it's safe to bet that the lyrics, beat, engineering and overall organization/quality of the track will be 100%. Even when I record on other artists' beats, you can expect it to sound like its an original joint. Nevertheless, being a perfectionist has its ups and downs.

What are some of your short term goals? Long term?
Money and then long money (haha). On a serious note, I say money but not in the shallow sense. I think the biggest reward anyone can receive from hard work would be financial success. Also, a quote sticks in my head "If you love your career, you won't work a day in your life." If I could live the way I want due to doing what I live the most, that is truly a dream come true. I know most people are expecting me to say be wordly recognized for being a rapper, or win some kind of Grammy and while I do want those things, I would just like to get through first. 

Tell us about your new mixtape and the recording process?
I guess the best place to start would be with the title, "Quotable."

Adjective: (of a person or remark) Suitable for or worth quoting.

That is the definition and I think it really describes the direction of the tape. There is a good variety of flows, punch lines and word play but I got the title from constantly hearing friends repeat lines they would think were hot. More than mimicking my flow and I started to realize that there definitely is a lot of memorable quotes in there. So while I will tell you there is a load of variety between style, the one thing you can expect to be consistent is putting what we all think/experience into words very elegantly. That is where I feel the gift lies. Being able to put thoughts into words without the buffer that seems to effect how well the thought can be explained or described. There seems to be a lot of that in there. 

In terms of the recording process, that is a little tricky. Sessions can get very organized at some points where we dump a hot verse on a beat and the tracks gets wrapped up in a day or so, to being completely all over the place with six or seven open projects with no idea what to focus on. In a perfect world, one of my producers lets me hear a beat I fall in love with, I write the verses and the hook, get to the studio as soon as I can, lay it down and within a week it is engineered and mastered by my partner Ace. Mind you, this perfect scenario happens rarely...Sometimes I write a verse that is way too long and what was supposed to be a song turns into Ace chopping it up or yelling at me for the song being six minutes. Then there are times verses and hooks I write without a beat and then tell my producers to make a beat around it and to turn my ridiculous beat boxing sound effects into something hot (haha). I will say one thing, being I cannot currently do this full time and studio time is limited because of work, most of what I make gets released. Sure there are a ton of tracks I have that haven't been out out, but mostly everything I do will more than likely be released. We don't have the time or luxury to scrap projects we've spent hours on. On the bright side, I think this makes me stronger as an artist. 

How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?
This is a rough question as well. Where on one side I feel like older hip-hop was closer to its roots, I can't say I am completely unhappy with the current state. I think currently there are a lot more artists out there and so much more variety in styles. So many more artists including myself doing more than just rapping, such as harmonizing on hooks, experimenting with new effects and rhyme schemes/flows. But, I do think with the way the Internet is, a lot of good talent gets flooded with garbage. Nowadays you have artists that wouldn't see the light of day in the 90s or early 2000s because they are god awful. But because of YouTube they gain a fan base and even flood it by making no talent rappers who don't understand that hustle, think they can get through by uploading some cheesy Youtube video with a track they recorded on a laptop mic. When there are artists putting their heart and souls into this just for no one to see it because it becomes a needle in a haystack. 

If you could accomplish one thing as an artist, what would be most important?
Being able to comfortable support myself and my family while being a rapper. I want to be able to do this full time. 

Anything else to add?
I'll leave with one of my favorite quotes by Winston Churchill, "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

Also, shout out to Joe Josh, creator of JoeJosh B.E.A.T.S.

If you haven't already downloaded my mix tape and let me know what you think. 

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