J'Sar: VA Rapper Believes That 'Networking Is Everything'
J'sar, what is it like being from Virginia?
VA is a true melting pot of culture. The military traffic brings people from all over the states. It seems VA was the default destination for those moving from the tri-state area as well. The east coast/NY influence was heavy growing up. Musically, Virginia is stamped. This state's ties and accolades to the industry are prestigious. The area itself is slow living, but it produces stars that are celebrated where the lights are brightest.
Would you mind sharing the importance of networking and how it has impacted your career?
Networking is everything. I'm a bit of a recluse, but had to learn to override that for the sake of career growth. Few examples: As a teen, I briefly met James Person, as he helped film a video for me. Around the same time, I met DJ Silk. Nas is my favorite artist and my first recording studio sessions were with Silk, who's from Queensbridge and was around the Illmatic/It Was Written process.
To this day, I get insight that helps me as I've branched from that influence to the J'sar of today. About 3-4 years later from meeting Silk, I bump into James Person, he remembered me, saw me trying to market myself. He upgraded his studio and worked with me endlessly, investing time and money to help me develop as an artist and businessman. Through James, years later, a trip to LA and I'm in the Universal Records building. I did an interview on an online radio show (Hip Talk Radio) with Jon Parrett. We kept in touch over time and he introduced me to Hector Conesa. Fast forward, through Big Hec, I end up in California with Redman during the How High tour.
I got some pretty cool custom sneakers as well. I opened for Pharrell on June 7th at Shaggfest because I consistently showed face, introduced myself until I no longer had to, and in return I was given the opportunity to earn that spot. None of this happens without meeting people. It's not always the recognizable names. You never know who knows who. Not everyone is going to "put you on" "overnight", but you meet people and they give you tools that will help you achieve your goals. Networks play out over time, parallels the process of friendship.
I look at the music industry like politics. You have to campaign to earn the support of people. If you play your cards right, you get elected to that desired position, in a sense. I think of the Rob Jay article you shared, how he went from physical to computer networking or Satori's article on Statik Selektah's website, which sums up networking from the point of view of someone you'd want to network with.
I believe that the best material comes from being broken and emotional drained. Can you describe how hardships and obstacles have impacted your songwriting process?
Whatever you aspire to be, all we know is an uphill battle. As a music artist, especially as a rapper, I have to walk the plank and get stoned and heckled. You're a sideshow until you are the show. Nobody believes your dream until you achieve it. You add the trials and tribulations of everyday life to the mix.....man. The pain of it all does fuel the creative mind. Some of my "happiest" songs were written when I was at my lowest. That was my escape. It gets hard to sit down and write. Aside from life's responsibilities I handle all things J'sar, not to cut corners, by necessity at the moment. I've written most of my songs via voice recorder while driving with the instrumental on repeat lately.
What are some of your goals and aspirations?
I believe my music can put me in a position to touch lives. You can change the world by changing the world as someone knows it. The reaction I've received from some, I can get from many more. I want to take my music to the next level, gain the ear of millions, while growing a global fan base. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to rap and be the voice you chose to listen to.
My 1st billboard was inducted into the William & Mary College Hip-Hop Collection. I'm featured on the legendary Nottz' Welcome Home Series Volume 2 and Volume 3, which is coming soon. My music is being mixed by Edward Nixon, sound architect of the Grammy winning J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. I always say you'll find inspiration in your own achievements. My main goal is to continuously inspire myself.
How does J'sar stand out in an overcrowded genre?
The best way to be original is to be yourself.