“Life is short. Stay true to believing in yourself no matter how hard it is. Don’t change because someone wants you to, or you think you have to. Master your craft, enjoy it & never ever give up fighting for your passion.”
Check out the interview with J.E.V.I PE$CI exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.
SKILLY: How were you able to start your journey in the entertainment business? Where did this all start?
J: Before the rise of technology, influenced by artists like Kool G Rap, Nas, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G, Jay Z, Mobb Deep, Big Pun, etc like them, I used Hip Hop as an outlet in coping with life’s hardships & struggles. Attracted to the culture, I began writing poetry, breakdancing, DJing & doing graffiti which then led to acceptance into Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Wilmington Delaware where I was offered to teach after school breakdancing classes, do Graffiti Projects & Djing at after school parties, entertaining & inspiring others through HipHop culture, contributing live performances & showcases around the eastcoast tri-state honing the crafts of each element practiced the artform, networking (again, before technology) was much more personal, after developing relationships with local talent producers at “Burb City Entertainment” giving me an opportunity to record eventually featuring me on the first full length studio compilation album release “Blue & Gold” distributed in local area stores, thus beginning my musical journey.
What are some of the creative ways you use to promote your music?
Nowadays, networking is done with the touch of a button anywhere in the world through all social media platforms in which I had to adapt to coming from a generation of non-tech socialization where I would have to promote & market physically through traveling doing shows performing on street corners & parties selling & handing out CDs, communicating with store owners & the public directly. Currently, overcoming a vast overpopulated platform combining classic approaches & newly systematic development gives me an ethical edge on promotional means, necessary for today’s aggressive market. But true promotion has & will always have the greatest effect face to face.
What is the greatest challenge you face in today’s entertainment business? How do you overcome them?
The greatest challenge in today’s entertainment business is adapting to the changing environment of hip-hop, lack of respect & knowledge of the culture once necessarily embraced, & marketing in the overwhelming population of “so-called” artists. Coming from a generation of thriving hip-hop culture, true artists were judged on pure talent, lyrical quality, understanding of the elements, & ability to perform them & entertain, not just having money. Hip hop is a cultural outlet a voice for the voiceless pertaining to a less fortunate class striving for achievement in the face of adversity, with no means of college or career choice, the More challenging hardship or painful experiences an individual artist overcomes, the more reflected in their passion through their music, hip-hop used to inspire hope for the hopeless & a choice for the choiceless, give opportunity & chance in a chanceless situation this is the hip-hop I grew to know, admire & love. It’s sad the truly talented artists are now the more struggling because the rise of technology & industry manipulation took this key aspect away from them & stripped the true meaning of hip-hop of this quality. For example, I know artists with more talent than the whole rap game combined but can’t afford equipment or even a phone, let alone studio time? Making it almost impossible to overcome, forcing them out by killing the hope & dreams that structurally created hip hop. Nas said it best years ago figuratively speaking “Hip Hop is dead” emphasizing how generations to come will never know the true value & meaning the culture was built on & fought so hard to preserve & carry on, Hip Hop is not dead it’s just been forced to adapt and take different environmental forms that few notice & or even fight for today. Talk to any legendary pioneer hip hop figure or advocate & they will agree that this is the greatest challenge in todays entertainment business for artists like me that have been taught, molded & spent countless hours studying & perfecting the elements & craft for the only chance of change or way to save your family or provide a better future for your children, versus a younger less talented, unknowledgeable artist with a silver spoon or drug money that can “afford” manipulative industry standards to be given the chance to be fortunate enough to become famous through music. The best advice is from Harlem OG & Legendary Hip Hop Figure “Benny Hill” of the G-Force Crew who told me although we are endangered & on the brink of extinction continue to “always be yourself”. From pain comes strength, disappointment breeds determination, your struggle is actually your friend & what makes you who you are, focus on survival, follow your dreams but your dream is just a dream without a goal, but a dream with a goal can lead you to glory” all people appreciate truth no matter how bad, accomplish daily goals stay positive & you will make it as long as you never give up being true to yourself!
How is the music scene like in your hometown? What do you like about it and what don’t you like?
Unfortunately, Wilmington Delaware South Philadelphia is a cold unforgiving environment especially with Hip Hop, it’s ironic because it is the exact opposite of “Brotherly Love” before & after my father left I grew up in shelters & group homes, Hip Hop has always been a competitive outlet like any sport, but in this particular arena it is cutthroat, to say the least. There is no love or respect that the game was once based on anymore, everyone is out for themselves. I’ve had “friends” that I took in from the street & came up with rob me, sell drugs to my family behind my back, turn me in to police, take my lyrics word for word and get on the radio, burn & tear up my rap books filled with irreplaceable poetry and blame it on drugs or something else. Coming up in the early 2000’s was all about the rise of battle rap, before social media everyone wanted to battle to prove their skills to gain attention, anyway you had the chance to disrespect another artist publicly was essentially everything. It gave you more experience in sharpening your skills “tools for the job” authenticity and creativity to be ready, but drew you away from the love of the culture so to say, there were no friendly cyphers or composing a song together without this aggression towards each other, when attempting to separate yourself, it would pull you in deeper & achievements would put a bigger target on your back. It was a lose-lose situation even in Bboying Breakers would battle to see who had the dopest moves which they would search & organize or plan to execute at public events to shame & purposely disrespect the other crew, this was the hip-hop scene I grew up in, which still plays a small part in my sound delivery & lyrical content in my music today. It made you feel alone, outcasted, always watching your back, untrusting, & skeptical of everyone around you, taking away the joy & fun of it so much so it developed into an almost paranoia that affected personal life. Most all rappers or Bboys never played fair theres always a “trick up the sleave” or “catch 22” noone was a good loser, some battle incidents ending in death or hospitalization spreading from you, to those around you “family & friends” it was so bad that it got to a point, I actually started charging artists to battle (which I would otherwise never do) & sign a written agreement with witnesses, that we would take conclusion with pride to avoid physical retaliation or contact without consequence but it still happened anyway. For example one incident I’ll never forget: I had a rapper I kept turning down begging me to battle him for weeks because he “heard how good I was. Edging me on in every way, purposely pressing buttons to force conflict, I gave in and lyrically embarrassed him in front of everyone at a party one night he then left & came back with a sawed-off shotgun and threatened to kill my mom & murder my family after that I was done with battling. It came from a place of excitement, experience & fun to a life-threatening place of consequence & paranoia, I’ve had friends lose their lives over battle rapping, concluding that this is not hip-hop. After the environment forced me into situations leading to incarceration, 4 felonies and 33 misdemeanors later, I left the state with nothing but a small trash bag filled with clothes in hopes to restart my life and take a new uncharted direction with Hip-Hop.
Where do you think the future of music is going to be? How do you feel artists can be more a part of it?
Hip-Hop is an adaptive culture constantly changing, it uncertainty gives curiosity, the way other artists my age feel now refuse to even turn on the radio or watch social media, Youtube, Vevo, MTV or BET due to so called “mumble rap” DJ’s understanding but miserable because they’re forced to play particular music based on consumers & marketing dollars restricted “not allowed” to play what they want, crowds of fans fueling the fire of this generation from becoming victemized by selective coorporate industrialized music that has destroyed the culture & seems to only get worse with technology by farther separating the true connection to the fans by promoting for money, not talent or cultural purposes. It’s upsetting knowingly being forced to play the well-off disrespectful artist with no understanding of the culture but can afford a manager, marketing, loud obnoxious beat repetitive hook etc. Saying anything they want with no substance unconscious lyrics that don’t rhyme, over the poor struggling knowledgeable humble independent artist that cant afford management or marketing with real talent, content, amazing self-made beat & pure gift of real poetry that deserves the chance. I live & fight for the hope hip-hop culture and will come full circle and thrive again for generations to come to enjoy & appreciate but have been manipulated by the industry & money, thus far insisting it’s purposely dead & gone, in the least can say will never be the same, understandably nothing in life is, but unless artists & fans can become self aware together to overcome & rise against the industry through social media by refusing to listen to the spoon fed songs that the artist pays the DJ to airplay every 5 mins or pays to get millions of views on youtube & social media skyrocketing them to “fake fame” maybe by refusing to listen to the “money” driven industry that has destroyed the culture they can attempt to reclaim the respect & understanding it was built on, but like life, in general, it takes money to survive, but what kind of money? Are you willing to take money to destroy a whole culture that stands for the less fortunate built around hope and dreams of a strong suffering people? Great example, look at Chance the rapper staying independent against all odds refusing to sign and receiving worldly recognition, awards, defying industry standards crushing the companies competition, artists like this inspire the hope I fight & live for with a few more “chance the rappers” we could possibly save hip hop! Speak up, keep your voice loud & head high supporting & fighting for the independent struggling & starving artists with real talent & change will come sooner than later & save a lot of well-deserved artists & their families in the process!
What advice can you give to other upcoming artists and musicians trying to achieve success?
Life is short. Stay true to believing in yourself no matter how hard it is. Don’t change because someone wants you to, or you think you have to. Master your craft, enjoy it & never ever give up fighting for your passion. Success is measured by the obstacles which one has overcome.
What inspires you to write your next song?
Lifes hardships daily struggle & overcoming past & present challenges. My name is the 2nd acronym for Judgement Environment Violence & Instinct the general topics I rap about & basis of my content, giving the listener a relatable story or inspiration by creating emotion from life’s journey. My music is an emotionally driven outlet. When I feel any emotional connection or attachment to an experience or feeling I “need to get out” I’ll write.
What are the steps you take to make a song?
I get inspiration through emotional connections from experiences I’ve lived or am living through as an outlet, this is foremost. When I was young I used to keep a daily diary that transitioned into rhyming words together without a beat or instrumental just poetry, I’d fill entire composition notebooks front to back with lyrics you could read like a book. I’d have friends just wanting to read my books purely for entertainment purposes saying “the way you write is like watching a movie but more creative and unbelievably inspiring” but I didn’t understand. I thought it was funny. I used to go into the studio & try to match my endless pages of lyrics to certain instrumentals and it was always a struggle until meeting a real songwriter-producer that saw me writing & explained the structural composition of a song and how I should try to compose 16 bar verses and 4-8 bar hooks to a particular beat etc., insisting this could really be something special if I wanted it to. I took his advice & now, first I make or find an instrumental that creates an emotional connection or attachment with myself, secondly I will pursue finding a rhyme pattern or rhythm that fits the beat, I will then start putting rhyming words together like puzzle pieces until I have 3 – 16 bar verses unless said certain beat influences a constructive hook or feature, I will usually put the hook together last using attached feelings from the verses until completion.
What do you think makes a great song?
Relatable emotional connections, unforgettable lyrics or lines that fit an instrumental, some of the greatest songs have the most simple characteristics. As an artist, it’ll be the track or song you least expected that people will love most!
Where can we connect with you? Can you give us your social media links and where we can contact you?
Google – “Jevi Pesci” & most of my links will come up!