“Getting exposure has to be the hardest challenge for me. Trying to be myself and continue to make strides to expand my brand in an era where not many lyrical unknown artists can make the jump to mainstream success is both disheartening as well as discouraging.”

Check out the interview with Jimmy Vo exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.

Skilly: Where did this all start? Tell us about your journey in the entertainment business.
Jimmy Vo: It all started in high school. One of my good friends and mentors Von-Yelle “V-Dizzle” Bethea started a music collective called Space Monkeyz and at the time I was known as Jay Valentine – an r&b singer/songwriter. Time went on and Space Monkeyz feel apart, but I consistently wrote songs but never actually recorded.

It wasn’t until 2010 I started to take hip hop and my development a lot more serious by recording my first project CallMeWhatYouWant where I worked as artist and lead producer. In 2012 after honing both my rap and production abilities I took on the name Jimmy Vo and went on to release several beat tapes and my second and latest rap project ReturnOfTheKing.

What would be your biggest piece of advice for the young kids out there trying to do what you do?
Be you, don’t try to be a cookie cutter artist. Know that nothing is handed to you. A lot of times you’ll have to scratch and claw your way through. Success is only granted to those who work for it. Own your craft, always let your creativity shine, never stifle yourself, and always believe in yourself.

What are some of the hardest challenges and tasks in your position?
Getting exposure has to be the hardest challenge for me. Trying to be myself and continue to make strides to expand my brand in an era where not many lyrical unknown artists can make the jump to mainstream success is both disheartening as well as discouraging.

We all know the entertainment business is very tough, but what do you find is the best way to promote and advertise your music?
Social media has proven to be to most reliable ways to promote my music. The fact that social media allows you to be accessible from anywhere and for anyone really changes the way an artist can connect with fans. Doing showcase is also a great way for promote and connect with fans as well as other artists.

Tell us about your city. How are the artists and the fans?
The untouchable, flashy, and ruthless persona that comes with being a New York artist is what sets us apart from artists from other cities. Coming from limited means in a city with so many possibilities and promise keeps us striving to conquer the world and stay atop the hip hop community. Our fans love to see one of their own shine. It give us all a feeling as if we all made it out of the dark corners of the city.

Where do you see yourself a year from today?
A year from today I hope to be on the verge of becoming a thriving independent hip hop artist that’s getting booked to headline concerts and that’s participating in festivals like SXSW, AfroPunk, and Coachella. Also hopefully releasing a third project that sets me up to becoming one of the most influence up and coming indie hip hop artists.

Who and what were your biggest inspirations? Who do you look up to in today’s world?
A lot of my inspiration comes from my life and the people that are a part of it. As an artist I pull inspiration from a lot of different areas of music. Jay Z, Kanye West, J. Cole, and KiD CuDi are my rapping inspirations. Production wise I pull inspiration from the likes of J Dilla, Q-Tip, Dr. Dre, and Timbaland. Ne-Yo and Keri Hilson for their songwriting abilities. As well as Brandy and Bobby V for their vocal abilities.

How do you feel about the music coming out today? Do you like it?
It’s hard to say if I like today’s music. It’s kind of a double edged sword. We live in an era where you don’t necessarily have to be good to put out a quality product. You can somewhat get by with lackluster lyrical ability, but if your production is on point someone somewhere is going to rock with it. For me the more I can relate to you as an artist, the more I’ll enjoy your music.

Where can we contact you and find you online?
Bandcamp: jimmyvo.bandcamp.com
iTunes: Returnoftheking
Soundcloud: foreverking
YouTube: Kinglikecrazy
Twitter/Instagram: @CallMeJimmyVo