Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ayatollah Jaxx Interview

In 2010, you will find Ayatollah Jaxx in the studio, churning out quality tracks like few in hip-hop can. There's a good chance of you running into him at one of the hip-hop shows in Pittsburgh, which seem to go down damn near every other day at this point. It's a guarantee that you will find Jaxx in the final four of each and every Rhyme Calisthenics event, Pittsburgh's Official MC Competition. That said, this confident MC isn't former anything, the same elements that brought him up in the hip-hop scene have remained by his side to this day.

Rory Webb: You began as a battle emcee. How has your experience in battling contributed to your progression as a studio artist and live performer?

Ayatollah Jaxx: Looking back, I was always multifaceted, but I did start off as a straight battle rapper. I think harnessing and releasing the aggressive, in your face energy required to battle was the catalyst for artistic evolution. Like, I'm very forward in person, pretty abrasive, caustic even, but it all translates for the better when I network, when I do perform, because that’s how I am, moreover, it's who I am. You get me? I'm very passionate and sometimes that passion can be perceived as anger or aggression.

RW: Do you set goals as an artist? If so, how have they changed since you first started rhyming?

AJ: Mos def. I started off as an idealist. Now I'm 24, I overstand the business aspect of the game and I have learned lessons that you can only experience first-hand. I think my only goal I really set was to make a difference. I wanted to be upright and steadfast in my grind, that was like really the only goal I set in concrete.

RW: In the past few years, can you describe the impact that venues such as the Shadow Lounge and Z-Lounge, and events like Rhyme Calisthenics, have had on you as an artist?

AJ: I owe a lot to these venues and showcases/promoters and hosts, because it helped craft my stage presence. A lot of work was put in at those venues and it prepped me for my subsequent shows in different cities and countries. Rhyme Cal in its self is a completely different animal. There are shows, jam sessions, all that, then Rhyme Cal is entirely by its self in another category.

RW: As a Rhyme Cal vet, what advice would you give to a first-time participant?

AJ: Be prepared. Bottom line.

RW: On the Rhyme Cal wheel there is a category called Grab Bag, which requires the emcee to pull items from a bag and spontaneously rhyme about them. If the items in the grab bag were selected from Jaxx's home, what would an emcee find inside?

AJ: If I told you that, I'd have to kill you ... Sike, ha - not really. Probably some martial arts weapons, boxing gloves, my Karate gi, umm, plutonium, a flux capacitor, depleted uranium shells and the schematics for Metal Gear Rex. Possibly Jimmy Hoffa.

RW: You have joined forces with producer Fundamental, of Toronto, to form the group Good Company. Can you talk about your relationship with Fundamental and explain the motivation behind the group?

AJ: Fundamental is my best friend, like word is bonjovi. Off this music thing, Alex & Farooq are friends, I'm cool with his parents and all that.

Good Company is just like, two friends who love Hip Hop, who live, sleep and breathe this Hip Hop thing. We wanted to do something that hasn't been done before, pause. Like really and truly, the name says it all. In all honesty, when was the real last time you seen a really talented and serious producer/mc duo create amazing music and achieve real accomplishments in Hip Hop? Don't worry, I'll wait. We just wanna make good music, no pun intended, and go above and beyond. I don't think his answer would be that different.

RW: How will Good Company's music reach the different cultures in Canada and the U.S.?

AJ: Well, Fundamental and I have completely different tastes in Hip Hop. So we're gonna combine a whole lot of sounds, you know? As cliche` as it is, we got something for everyone, even if every one ain’t for us. We're different in a lot of respects but when it all comes together in the music, it's great chemistry, you get me? A lot of science is laid down and the product is intended to reach farther than the backyard, pause.

RW: You also have your solo album, "Hello, Hip-Hop," due out in March. How will this album be different from your prior releases?

AJ: Man, how much time you got? Ha. In all seriousness this is me approaching the game for the first time, all over again. This Is My Jihad was kind of esoteric in that, I was in a different mind state in 07-08, and it was made for people who shared that train of thought. So with H3, I'm really executing the art of song writing and being a real artist. I wrote all the hooks that other artists do except for one. I'm singing on here, like on some true to life carrying tunes. I worked on this album for a whole year, actually writing music, altering keys on the piano, working with Chim on the beats, the whole nine. This album will be the first complete real album I ever produced.

Ayatollah Jaxx - "Killin It," from the album Nothing Like You Ever Heard

Ayatollah Jaxx - "Wha Gwan (Sound Boy Burrial)," from the album Hello Hip-Hop

Ayatollah Jaxx & Divine Seven - "Happiness," from the album Black Connection

Check out the new single, Ms. 416 (Produced by Fundamental)

For more info and to get connected with Jaxx:

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