Mr. J and Saudade - Making The Music I Want

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We had the chance to talk with Mr. J. Medeiros earlier this month, a founding member of Colorado hiphop group The Procussions and a solo artist again making his name in hiphop. After a ten year stretch, Mr. J became a solo act. After dropping Friends Enemies Apples Apples and The Art of Broken Glass, Mr. J is back with force, his new album Saudade now out. Take a listen and read below for a look into the life of a hiphop veteran and a continued strength in music.

Saudade, roughly translating from Portuguese as “longing,” was a crowdsourced album: J requested his fans to prepay for production costs. You can pick up a copy here.

[RG] What is your life background and how does it fit into your music?

[J] I grew up between Colorado and Rhode Island. Both my parents are from the East Coast. My father, the second generation of Portuguese immigrants and my mother, of Scottish decent, that side of the family pretty much came to America as some of the first “settlers”. I came into hiphop as a listener and struggling B-Boy, ha, very early in life. Colorado was a little behind at the time, so I had a lot of room to shape my own experience with hiphop music. Pretty much forced to find my own way musically within the genre. I think it’s the East Coast that gave me an eye for authenticity musically while Colorado gave me the drive to speak for real people. When I say “real,” I mean people who can not escape the fact that most of hiphop music offers no real solution or narration to the actual human drama. Colorado may look like it is in the middle of nowhere but we had and still have heavy socioeconomic issues coupled with a strong military population and heavy religious environment. We have a unique social demographic.

[RG] How did your experience with The Procussions shape the music you make today?

[J] Being in The Procussions was over a ten year experience. I started in the Pro’s when I was 19-20yrs old and we stopped making music together when I turned 30, so it’s difficult to separate what I learned as a man and what I learned as a musician, it was my life. Musically I still continue to grow working with Stro, the former producer of The Procussions, on all my new music today. I think both Stro and I recognize a “calm” like feeling of confidence in ourselves and our own ideas which wasn’t so well known when we were in the group — it’s most likely age.

[RG] You funded your most new album by asking fans to prepay. How did this compare to working with a company?

[J] Companies say they will give you a budget, but you never see it, you just know you will be paying for it in the end. Usually your label will state it’s going to spend “so and so” on your record, it will be on paper, but you won’t see, handle, or facilitate the funds. You have to hope they are telling the truth. That being said, labels usually have a much larger budget. The thing about pre-orders is, your using your profit to promote your album before you actually see profit at all- so it’s a little at a time. It’s the difference between using cash and credit: going the prepay route is the “cash” route, you take less chances but you could be working smarter. I am very grateful for the amount of support I got through my campaign and I feel challenged to use the budget the best way possible. It takes a lot of research and developing relationships with people, not just throwing money at them.

[RG] Your songs deal with emotions, love, and life in general. What is your message?

[J] I don’t think I have a specific agenda in my music, except to release that splinter in my side to write something “honest.“ I believe personal honesty, a truth about one’s own thought’s, the full spectrum of emotion understood through that human humility, our limited range of understanding, can really say something for and about all of us.

[RG] What influences and sparks your creativity?

[J] I can’t deny it, both religiously and non-religiously, I continue to be influenced by the story and being of Jesus Christ. I don’t usually say that because people start to think I make Gospel music, which is not true…but, if I am to be honest- then yes this is a huge influence. I love the “human story”, the struggle between good and evil, the urge to define one’s own purpose. I find myself in comic books, Shakespeare, Voltaire, well written movies (ha), Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway…and much more. I also enjoy studying counter arguments on almost everything…I enjoy the challenge of Nietzsche, Rand, Kant, Machiavelli and so on.

[RG] Where is rap today, in your opinion?

[J] Rap feels like it’s having its first grandchildren growing into teenagers. We finally have “rap fathers,“ people who are now in their 50s and 60s who have kids who are having kids. There is a little lack of respect for the grandfathers hard work, but I believe in time the there will be a reverence for what Hip Hop is, a culture, the spoken word, of oppressed people. You can’t escape the “root”…

[RG] Dream collaboration?

[J] I have always wanted to work with a real symphony and choir.

[RG] For whom do you speak?

[J] Myself.

[RG] What’s next?

[J] My new album Saudade drops June 14th! I am hoping people will check it out- like it- and then catch up with my older albums,The Art of Broken Glass, Friends Enemies Apples Apples, and Of Gods and Girls. Saudade is the closest I have gotten to making the music I want. It’s my most personal and strongest foot forward into a new era…I hope!

Again, take a listen to Saudade, out today! Or you can always hit up RG for the scoop.

Holding On

Constance

Inteview by GavinMatthews