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Interview with JayQuan – 5 Mics – By Rush


7 October 2003 No Comment

Jayquan assured me he will be dropping 5 mics and he just did that with a track titled “5 Mics” featuring grandfathers of hip hop Grandmaster Caz and Grandmaster Melle Mel. This guy aint moving around in the circles of Ja-rule or 50 cent but rather with cats like Kurtis Blow and T-La Rock.

Tell me who is Jayquan. How long he’s been into the game cos from what I can tell it’s been a while cos not your avarage hip hop cat today would feature two of hip hop’ pioneers? 

Well I have been into Hip Hop , and have been an Emcee since the first recorded Hip Hop which was in the late seventies/early eighties. I made my first record titled “Slow & Mellow” back in 1987 when I was in a group called the Too Def Crew and I was known as Mic Master Jay.

You from VA. right? What’s up on the scene over there I don’t know of too many cats dropping hip hop shit from there?

Well – Missy , Timbaland , The Neptunes and Clipse are all from VA Beach. D’Angelo and Mad Skillz are from Richmond ,Va which is where im from. There are all kinds of sounds coming from Va – the beach area has more of that electronic sound like Timbaland & Neptunes. Richmond has everything from Dirty South styles to East Coast Boom Bap. Beyond the beach , cats in Va don’t really collab that much , it’s kinda every man for himself. The Supafriendz whose core members are Danja Mowf , Skillz & Lonnie B. are one of the few exceptions.

Tell me about Jah music is that your imprint or you just working with them to release your album?

J.A.H. Music is an acronym for the initials of my birth name , which happens to be my sons initials as well. It’s my label that I started a few years ago after studying the music industry , specifically publishing and distribution. After studying those areas I saw that a record deal is not in my best interest unless I have the label , and a bigger label handles distribution. With J.A.H. Music and Slave Son Publishing – which is my publishing partnership with my partner Devine Mekkah ; I have the freedom to release my music my way with total creative control , and financial independence. 

What was the name of the first cat that you heard doing hip hop shit that made you go I’m gonna do that shit as well?

The first cat was Wonder Mike of the Sugarhill Gang , ‘cus that’s the first rap song that I ever heard , and he is the first Emcee on the record. When I heard Rappers Delight it literally changed my life. I knew that I wanted to do what these guys were doing the first time that I heard that record. Now a few months later I heard Melle Mel , The Treacherous 3 and cats like Spoonie Gee and that just solidified it. Those cats were doing a much more sophisticated style than Sugarhill Gang. My later influences were T La Rock , LL Cool J , Rakim , Kool G Rap , and Big Daddy Kane .

Each one of those cats made me want to change my whole style.

When did the album come out and who was part of the creation?

Urban Legend is an 11 song Ep that was released in July of 2003. It is Executive produced by myself & my partner Devine Mekkah (who was my partner in Too Def & our current crew ; First Sons). The first single is 5 Mics which is receiving very good support especially on college and underground radio. Urban Legend is available through my website www.jayquan.com.

On Testament I’m feeling what you saying seems like you pouring your heart out in introducing yourself to the people?

Yes, Testament is just me throwing out all kinds of different thoughts from how tired I am of the repetitive and limited Hip Hop that is promoted on mainstream television and radio , to thanking my mom & grandma for raising me properly , to just letting other Emcees know that I still got skills.

Talking about being stuck in the 80’s does people actually really say that about you cos I think you fresh man I think you one of them story telling mcees?

Well people have said that , but it’s more in relation to some of my hobbies than my Emceeing I think. I operate a pre Run Dmc website that tells the history of Pre recorded Hip Hop ; with interviews from the actual legends , I collect Atari , Colecovision & Intellevision games , I also collect 80s cartoons and action figures. Im not gonna front , the late 70s and early 80s were the bomb to me. If you think about it everything in pop culture that is big now was birthed from the late 70s & early 80s – Home video games , Hip Hop music & culture , movies, even fashion is all coming back. But for the record im not stuck in the 80s , but it was a good time to be a teen.

Five mics the track has you collaborating with Grandmaster Caz and Grandmaster Melle Mel how the f*** did that happen you know them cats is icons of this hip hop game?

Caz & Mel are two of the first Emcees , only Kool Herc’s Emcees (Coke La Rock & Timmy Tim) really pre date them. It all happened through the technology of the internet. My site that I previously mentioned is called the Foundation. I just wanted to let people know where this multi billion dollar culture started ; so I created this site and put up some pics & bios of about 15 groups and individuals that I felt were very important to the rap element of the Hip Hop culture. Before I knew it I was getting praise from all over the world , and my man Troy L. Smith from Harlem emailed me and said that he grew up with some of these cats and that he could get me in touch with them for interviews. He hooked me up with Caz and several others. One thing led to another and eventually some of the legends like Van Silk and Kurtis Blow actually emailed me. From there I obtained contact info for Mel , Caz & Kool Moe Dee , who I really wanted to appear on the song , but he declined. See since the early 80s I felt that Mel , Moe Dee and Caz were 3 of the greats. Throughout the 80s and 90s I could hear their influence in people like LL Cool J and Rakim. It had been in the back of my mind for years that I wanted to work with those cats one day. It’s funny that after years of writing different record labels and magazines for contact info , with no successes – it all just fell in my lap.

Did you do all the production yourself or was there some other cats contributing?

On the Urban Legend ep I did everything except 5 Mics and the 5 Mics remix. Dr. No did those – he is the truth. Hopefully the world will hear his music soon.

In this modern day and age of hip hop who would you say is making hip hop shit that you appreciate?

Canibus, Common, Mos Def, Pharoah Monch, Jay-Z, Nas, R.I.P. Big L ,Biggie & Big Pun.

Ok in closing tell me what is it according to you what must a album have to receive that prestigious 5 mics that people is fiending for from the Source?

Well I am a lyricist – so clever , witty and well pronounced lyrics first and foremost. Also a variety of subject matter and hot beats. I don’t like the fact that a lot of artists will do an entire lp – 18 or more songs and most of them have a guest rapper or R&B singer featured. Hooks are not very important to me either if what is being said in the verses is garbage.

Thanks for the knowledge shared with me people can peep out www.jayquan.com to peep out more about you hit us off with final words?

Yeah ,I just want heads to know that even though I made a song with Mel & Caz , that I am not an “Old School Rapper”. I do appreciate and respect the School , but I don’t wanna be put in that box. Mel & Caz can still rip a mic to shreds and their rhymes are being used today as hooks in MANY songs. We are not on some “yes yes yall – you don’t stop” lyrics . 5 Mics is just as fresh and current sounding as anything out right now.

Interview By Rush

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