The intro to Hip Hop Affect features your son, who asks the supposedly simple question What does hip hop feel like?, for the purpose of those who haven’t heard this album can you answer your son's question?
To me hip hop feels like an expression. What I mean by that, is it allows us to feel like we want to feel. Hip hop is liberating because it allows an artist or a person who is experiencing it to feel free.
The Hip Hop Affect does a commendable job of showcasing what good Hip Hop is. Who are your hip hop heroes?
I have many. I am from the era of Pete Rock and C.L [Smooth], Tribe [Called Quest], De La Soul. But to me; I love anyone who champions the original feeling of the kids in the Bronx who started hip hop. I love some of the new artists that are coming out such as Kendrick Lamar or Joey Badass. They have a real HIP HOP feel to them. I think that was why the independent era of the late 90s was so big. It was a great expression of hip hop culture.
Many hip hop heads would get excited at the prospect of schooling listeners on hip hop's essence amongst today's evolved, commercialized times. Is this a fundamental role for all those involved in the scene?
Most definitely. I think it is important to help educate young hip hop listeners with hip hop music from the past. Personally, I immerse my kids in old school hip hop. My son’s favourite group is A Tribe Called Quest. He is 13. He listens to a lot of old school, and he has an appreciation of new music and other forms of music like jazz, funk, etc, because of this. For instance, when he heard the Lupe Fiasco song that samples They Reminisce Over You, he knew it was Pete Rock right away. That’s how it should be.
Can you name any hip hop heads that have made a significant difference in terms of defining hip hop?
I think a lot of the new young dudes are doing that. Big Krit, Kendrick Lamar, Fly Union, P Black, and there are many others; these guys have an appreciation for what came before them. You can tell by the music they create and the lyrics they spit.
Your soundbeds are quite often jazz-influenced, how would you describe your sound? And has it developed over time?
I do believe my sound has developed and grown as I have grown. Jazz-hop is my foundation. However, I have really changed up my style in the last year or so. My next album is going to be Casual and J-Rawls - the album will be called Respect Game or Expect Flames, the beats are on a whole new level, very different style for J-Rawls and you will be pleasantly surprised,.this album will be dropping in late summer.
You have worked with Beastie Boys, Slum Village, Dose One etc, who is on your wish list to work with?
Blu, Esperanza Spading, De La Soul, The Left, Joey Badass, Mariana Aydar, there are so many.
Who has been the best artist you have worked with?
John Robinson. He is my brother; he is such a purveyor of hip hop!
Your second solo album called The Essence of Soul released in 2005 on your own label POLAR Records, featured Aloe Blacc. When you were working together did have an inkling that he was going to do well?
Most definitely, because I knew how dope he was. And I knew how dope an emcee he was, but I knew he could sing! After hearing what he did with Bailer, I knew that he would blow up for singing. Dude is incredible.
You will be hitting the decks to play The Doctor’s Orders 7th Birthday on Friday 13 July, what do you set out to achieve in a DJ set?
I hope to give the listener a feeling, I like to give them that feeling of expression I spoke about earlier. I like when the listener can reminisce or hear a new song all in one DJ set! Basically, I like to have fun!
J-Rawls can be caught hitting the decks with force at The Doctor’s Orders 7th Birthday party on July 13th at East Village, 89 Great Eastern St, London EC2A 3HX, along with the likes of Spin Doctor, DJ Vadim, MC Prankster and more.