“There are other members of my crew, Dopeliven, that are making music. I am hoping that our brand, our movement creates an avenue for other artists in the city to get on.”
Check out the interview with J.A.G. exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.
Tell us where this all began. What is your history in the music scene?
J.A.G.: It started in my bedroom. I was just messing around with some music and just started rhyming to it. My dad walked by and said that it sounded good. I rhymed for a couple of friends and they liked it too and I decided I would pursue it. It has worked out well.
I have performed in a couple of huge outdoor festivals and at 16 performed at a club in Chicago, Illinois. I didn’t know it was a contest, but my group, Dopeliven, and I went in and killed it. We were too young to enter the contest, but the winner told us and the audience that we were good and should have won. That was a turning point for the group.
What are the best ways to promote yourself as an artist? Any tips you can give us?
Networking is key. I can make music all day long, but at the end of the day I need to get it heard. I share certain tracks with different people outside of my regular circle so that I can get an honest critique of my music. I have music now all over the country and in other parts of the world as well. A tip? Remember this is a business. Network with people outside of your circle. Social media is critical. You have to do the work. Never stop your grind; your brand depends on it. Educate yourself in the business.
What do you ultimately want to become in your career?
I am just trying to get good music out and hopefully people will listen and like it. I want to become a mentor through my music. I want to also become a producer to help other artists to pursue their dreams. I want to become and stay relevant as an artist that not only puts out great music but cared about what is put out.
What is the hardest thing about being in the music business?
One of the hardest things about being in the music business is getting your music heard. You don’t have to focus on the major label, but you have to do major label work. Also, I have learned that you have to really be in shape to do these shows.
What is it like in your city? What is the music scene like, and how is it like living there overall?
I live in Gary, Indiana. There are so many underground rappers and studios in the city. The lure to hit the streets is huge. Gangs, lack of jobs, drugs, it’s all out there. There are a lot of great unsigned artists in my city, they just don’t get the opportunities that others outside the city get. There are other members of my crew, Dopeliven, that are making music. I am hoping that our brand, our movement creates an avenue for other artists in the city to get on.
What are some of advice you can give and share to other artists who are still trying to come up?
Don’t quit. There is plenty of room for everyone. But don’t try to be a Drake, Boosie, Kendrick, etc. Change the game and be the best you can be. I believe the Industry needs a shot in the arm to get back on track. Stay true to what you do and everything else will come.
What is the best thing that’s ever happened in your career?
Performing in front of a large audience is one of the highlights of my career. Also seeing my name and article about me and my group in the newspaper and in several online magazines. But what tops the list is the first time someone asked me for my autograph. I do the music because I like rapping. For someone to appreciate my music is definitely a highlight for me.
What is your inspiration?
I listen to a lot of old school music. I am inspired by rappers like Method Man, LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, and more. These guys although different in delivery, changed the game. That is what I want to do. Make music that will change the game, good music that people will want to listen to and talk about far into the future.
Also my mom and dad. My dad is my manager, he was in the business when I was young. He did a television show for 12 years and he gives me great advice about the industry. My mom never listened to hip hop/rap music until I started rapping. Now she is my biggest fan.
Do you feel anyone can be successful now in today’s world of music?
Everyone has the opportunity to do anything that they want. We all have the same capabilities to do this or anything. The key is what you do with what you have. Just making songs is not the only part of the business. You have to put the other work in to make it. Yes, anyone can be successful in this business if they put the work in.
Where can we find you on social media?
Official Website: www.dopeliven.com
Facebook: @Jordan Gray | @JAG