Rappers that pull their strongest influences from artists like Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye and Barry White seem to bring an element of surprise to their lyrics--true life, love and soul. Iowa born and bred J. Wright is one of those rappersóbut wait, he doesnít want to be called a rapper. Heís an artist that draws inspiration from the music his parents listened to.
After losing his father, he found solace in poetry and those poems transitioned into rhymes. His interest in music came from a business angle, so after researching how to create your own home studio, J. Wright did just that, in his basement. He sold out of all 500 copies of his first mixtape and knew that he was meant for this. Heís not a one-sided hip-hop artist; he wants to transcend race and evoke an emotional connection with his music. This mini-mogul in the making has his hands in everything from music to jewelry and refuses to lose! Read his testimony below about becoming a mogul, being true to himself and what makes him the prototype.
How do you think the transition from poet to rapper helped your career?
It was for the best because in my music, I tell stories. Itís more than me just rhyming. It helps people connect to my music a lot more because they know itís coming from my heart. Itís something Iíve actually experienced.
Thereís something about people that go from poets to rappers. You guys have more of an emotional connection. Is that something you bring?
Iím going to it to a different level. Iím going to do something that we donít have right now--the LL Cool J type of poetry--love poems that we donít have anymore. Iím not going to talk about ďbusting it openĒ or nothing like that in my songs.
What type of artist would you say that you are?
Iím the prototype for whatís new. Iím bringing a little bit of everything. Iím not trying to be just one thing or something that Iím not. Iím a little bit of everything. I flash a little bit, I come from the heart always and Iím all about the ladies, so Iím bringing everything together in one melting pot.
Define the artist that you are.
The artist that I am is going to continue to push the envelope. I donít ever want to be thrown in the box of a rapper. I will get an acoustic guitar player, go to an open mic and straight rap over him playing the guitar. Iíll get a rock band and rap over that. Iíll do a church song with me rapping on it. Anything you can think of, Iím going to try it.
Whatís the most important aspect of your music?
Itís me. It comes from the heart. I would never sugarcoat anything or make anything up. If I say Iíve done it or been through it, then Iíve done it and been through it.
Everybody and their mommas want to be artists, so when you tell people that, you fall on deaf ears because, who doesnít want to do it? You had a plan, so that makes you smarter. Are you trying to be a mogul?
Thatís my dream and how I started off. I really didnít start off as a rapper. I just wanted to be the CEO of my own record label. Then, I got drawn in. People heard me rapping in the background and begged me to get on a song. One song turned into two songs, then three, then my own mixtape and album. I definitely feel like mogul side is something I want to do. I have other business ventures that Iím trying to extend my hand to. Iím trying to become more than just music. I donít want people thinking I am just limited to music.
You want to be a mogul, so what are you doing to get yourself there?
I have a jewelry company and thatís first and foremost. Iím trying to open up three locations by the end of this year. Thatís one thing. I do a couple of designs for T-shirts here and there, so the clothing line is coming eventually. [I have] the record label of course--Camp Entertainment. I feel like Iím just trying to open the door, so that anyone else thatís trying to be themselves can just do that.
Thatís definitely mogul status. How do you find the time between your music, label, clothing line and jewelry line, to live your life?
I donít sleep. [laughs] I get 2-3 hours of sleep a day.
Thatís not healthy!
Actually, it is. I went to my doctor and everything. I really donít need sleep. So, I guess Iím built for this. Iím the prototype.
Tell me more about the jewelry line.
Honestly, my interest in jewelry--just like other rappers--came from seeing everybody else with big chains. So the first real money I got, I went and got a big chain. I was so interested in how they put them together, how they set the diamonds in. I started going to the jewelry shop more and more. The jeweler was like, ďHow about I just show you how to do this and you come and work for me for a while.Ē So, T.V. Johnny took me under his wing, showed me how to mold, do 3-D designs and how to hand cut diamonds. He supports me. My company thatís opening in Atlanta is going to be sponsored by him and in partnership with T.V. Johnny Dang.
Maybe I should have asked you if there was anything you didnít want to do? [laughs]
[laughs] I donít want to fail.
Do you have mixtapes out right now and is your album coming out?
I have an album coming out and the single is out right now. Weíve shot the video. Itís about to be real major. The single is ďMr. Wright,Ē featuring J. Rome. The album is called Mr. Wright. Weíre looking to try to put it out at the end of the summer.
Iowa definitely has its violent side. That seems like itíd be interesting to hear about. Are you trying to put that into your music?
Nah. I donít really want to shed light on the bad things. I want to keep it positive and do something that when parents hear the music, theyíre not taking it from their kids. I want parents to go out and buy this for their kids. I want it to be something that kids and parents can agree on. I donít think we have that right now.
What do you feel people will get from your music?
Something thatís real. This industry right now is made up of a whole bunch of fakery. Thereís a bunch of people pretending to be something theyíre not. Artists make up a whole new persona and Iím not trying to be a part of that. I want you to feel that itís me coming through. I want you to be able to feel it [when] youíre going through or went through the same situation. It can help you heal and cope with it.
Your message is not of violence, sex or drugs. Where is your message going to fit in, in hip-hop?
I donít fit. Iím making my own space and category right now.
When itís all said and done, what do you want people to remember about you?
I want them to remember that I never had to pretend to be somebody else. I am just me. I succeeded in being myself.
Where can people go to find your music?
They can get the mixtapes for free at www.therealjwright.com and you can find links to all my new and old stuff on iTunes.