Touching on everything from getting schooled by Alicia Keys, what the label (J Records) thinks about his free music campaign and upcoming album, Jack Splash opens up with DXNext and even gets a little personal. Although he is very familiar with the stars of today’s entertainment, he’s still a private guy and sometimes still ends up star-struck.
Getting Online: “Honestly, I wasn’t that active on MySpace or Facebook and definitely not Twitter for a while. My management and my label, would always tell me, ‘You gotta do it, you gotta do it! The people wanna communicate with you.’ I think ‘cause I’m a private guy sometimes I was kinda scared to do that, but at the same time I have a little Hip Hop ethic, which is very street and very grassroots-oriented. Even with Twitter, I just barely started it and so many people reached out to me real quick and I have to admit, even though I feel like it’s intrusive sometimes, it is easier to communicate with people that way some times.”
Free Music: “I’ve been droppin’ a couple free albums. I took a step back and I realized that I have a very good major label deal with a lot of funding and I basically was able to make my dream album for my first solo release, my heart was full of a lot of gratitude for the position I’m in and for the fact that I’ve been successful as a producer over the last few years and I just wanted to give music for free to my fans. The other part is because I have a really weird mixed musical background.
Each free album has its own theme. The first one is called Heir to the Throne and I purposely titled it that way because a lot of people for the past couple of years have been tryin’ to kinda put the crown on me by sayin’ like I’m the next OutKast or the next Prince so for that album I was just tryin’ to say, ‘Thank you for the compliments but just let me be me.’ The second one is called King of the Beats, but I’m not sayin’ that I’m king of the beats I’m sayin’, ‘Okay, if I’m up there I am just one among many.’ If you look on the artwork, I’ve got like DJ Premier on the back, I have [J] Dilla on the back and Pharrell. On the first two, there’s a lot of Rap. I think I just wanted to do that to get it outta my system, show a little love to my fans and kinda get em’ ready for this maze I’m about to take em’ on. Future of the Funk is the next one and it’s a lot closer to what the major album kinda sounds like. I’m kinda hopin’ that all my Hip Hop heads that like funky shit, new shit and creative stuff will be able to wrap their heads around it like.”
What J Records Thinks About Giving Music Away: “At first, of course, it was somethin’ they wouldn’t want their artist doing but at the end of the day I think they understand. I said, ‘Listen, I know that you guys think we have some very big pop records on this album and I know where you want me to end up but my album is crazy. So in order for that to make sense people gotta understand me as an artist. The mixtapes are really a ways for people to understand me.’ When they understood it like that they were like, ‘Okay, okay but you better make sure people know about the real album.’”
Technology and Love Might Save Us All: “Technology and Love Might Save Us All is my major label album and as of right now it’s comin’ out at the end of May. It’s all singing other than like the guests like Missy [Elliot] rapping on it, Lupe [Fiasco] rapping on it, T-Pain rapping on it and some other people but I’m not rapping on it, I’m just singing. The main concept behind that is that a lot of people are on one side of the spectrum or the other when it comes to almost anything; it could be music, politics, it could be technology itself. I found that there’s usually two very differing viewpoints; one is people who would like embrace new ideas and new things, then there’s people who reject all the new things and say, ‘Things were much better when they were like this or like that.’ I was thinkin’ with all this brilliance that we have and all this technological savvy that we have there’s so many things that we could do with technology and yet, here we still are in 2010 with global poverty and these diseases that have existed for so long and for some reason they still haven’t been able to find cures for them but we can shoot a missile from an entirely different country and hit with the most intense precision. It’s like take a step back, if you drink or smoke weed, if you just trip off of it for a second all the things that we have at our fingertips right now like 20 or 30 years ago it seemed like some science fiction shit. I guess I figured out a strange musical plot and did a little concept album that kinda touches on all that stuff in a way that, honestly speaking, is a little subliminal.”
A Movie Too: “I did an animated movie in conjunction with the album that has Cee-Lo narrating with Lupe Fiasco and Janelle Monae playin’ the two lead characters. It’s like this bugged out psychedelic animated movie that hopefully some little kids will check out and little bits of knowledge will soak in. The plot revolves around this little boy with all these questions about the world and this psychedelic robot that comes down from outer space in a butterfly spaceship, but basically the boy and hip-hop help save their lives unknowingly and the 808, the boogie, the drums somehow got to the people in outer space and at the same time they’ve come down to help fix some of these problems we got down here. It’s a dialogue and there aren’t really answers in my movie either; there’s a lot of questions but sometimes just asking a question provides a platform for people to potentially find answers.”
Doesn’t Technology Contradict Love?: “I think that this next generation of kids are literally growing up with things that were only in our imagination. Even just using like Skype with my mom and my little nephew is so easy and it’s free. I’m in Miami and my mom’s in L.A. and we’re talking and the picture is perfect. I can’t believe that people are still using the phone. I think that when we put that big human heart behind all this technology we won’t be applying it to how we can build the bigger and more precise bomb or how we can figure out better ways to tap phones.”
Plant Life in the Past, Maybe in The Future: “The reality is like when I made Plant Life originally it was just me in the studio for the most part alone but when I brought it on the road I made it a bigger thing. There’s a lot of elements of Plant Life in my solo stuff but I wanted to differentiate. At some point I may go back and wanna do some Plant Life records but for right now I’m really kinda focused on my solo stuff and I’m actually kinda developing a couple other projects at the same time but I won’t say the names yet.”
Producer and Artist – The Evolution: “I was always an artist first and I hadn’t really produced anyone before Plant Life. One of the first people I hooked up with was Cee-Lo, a mutual friend played him the first Plant Life record and he was really diggin’ it. He wanted to hook up and maybe make some music. We formed a side group together call the Heart Attack and we just really clicked. Then like John Legend, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, and just all these people started hearin’ all this stuff I did with Cee-Lo and started reachin’ out. I just worked with R.Kelly and it’s very different from the stuff that he’s done but he just had fun with it and we just went in the studio and had a blast. The artist stuff came first but I really love producing just as much. I really only kinda went back to the artist stuff because, like any artist will tell you, when you stifle your voice for long enough you just start itchin’ to like write some more songs.”
Getting the Grammy: “That was awesome for multiple reasons. Jennifer is such a sweetheart and is obviously one of the most awesome, strongest, real voices in contemporary music and workin’ with her was so fun. The song that we did on her record was one with her and Fantasia. Actually, Missy Elliot and Jazmine Sullivan were also involved in writin’ the song so it was like a really cool kinda dream team. For me I was just happy with the way the song sounded, but I mean bein’ able to have a little Grammy plak on the wall felt kinda crazy and awesome. It was definitely kinda unexpected. That was a night of some wild chills thinkin’ like, ‘Wait, I actually got a Grammy certificate? Damn!’”
Hooking Up With Others: “I just kinda go along with the ride and I just keep workin’. Literally, I’ll be in the weirdest places like the wild studio in Vegas workin’ with Britney [Spears] around the time that she had the breakdown, or in the Bahamas on a beautiful beach workin’ with Shakira, or out in Chicago just buggin’ out or freestylin’ with R. Kelly.”
Learning From Alicia Keys: “People don’t even know that she’s like a super producer, like a really dope producer. She’s like good on the MPC and she’s a great writer. I said to her, ‘Why do you have producers? If was as successful as you I don’t know if I would have other producers comin’ in.’ She was like, ‘It’s fun! What you do is different from what I do. Why not?’ I was like, ‘Fuck! As much as I think I know, you just taught me a lesson I need to know now before, let’s say, I do blow up. Thank God you told me that now.’ I wouldn’t wanna be like one of those artists who doesn’t keep growing and letting other people come in and collaborate with them.”
Star-struck: “As much as people wanna put on me I can still be like a little kid. Even when I was workin’ with R.Kelly I told him, ‘Yo man this is fuckin’ wild to me right now!’ Like the way he was talkin’ about my music was like, ‘This is so ill and I love the way you write’ but I was like, ‘Man I feel like I wanna run outta the room right now.’ I still trip out off of workin’ with Alicia, or shit even just hearing Lupe’s voice playin’ one of the characters in this movie I created – like hearin’ him, Cee-Lo and Janelle and just seeing the picture come together the way I see it in my mind I still get chills.”
Stay Connected: “Follow me on twitter @SirJackSplash on Facebook and MySpace (www.myspace.com/jacksplash) also. If people have stuff they want me to check out I can check it out that way too.”