Chicago-born musician Jahzel began his career in the music industry working behind the scenes as an engineer, manager, producer, and songwriter. In 2010 he shifted gears with the release of his first mixtape, The Arrival, which generated an overwhelmingly positive response and helped launch his solo career. Aside from his triple threat abilities (i.e. he can write, record and produce), Jahzel is one of those rare individuals that truly understands the power of music. For him, music is a vehicle for storytelling and tapping into the deepest of emotions. He leverages lyrics and melodies to provide a worldwide awakening to the struggles of growing up in the inner city of Chicago and there’s no doubt his music is soulful, moving and intelligent.
We had the chance to catch-up with Jahzel to discuss his latest album The Wake Up, along with some other great conversation…peep it below.
Jadamix: So you’re from Chi-town. I visited your city last Summer for Lollapalooza and absolutely loved it. Have you been to Lolla?
Jahzel: Oh most definitely. Lolla draws some of the dopest acts in Chicago. It’s 3 days of great music and there are so many parties.
I hear your favorite spots for food in Chicago are Giordano’s Pizzeria and Uncle Remus Chicken & Barbecue.
[Laughs]. Uncle Remus is good for chicken wings and mild sauce. Not sure if you’re familiar with mild sauce outside of Chicago but they got the best. Giordano’s for some deep dish, but man, you have to travel around the city cause there’s so much good food across different ethnicities.
Who makes better pizza, Chicago or New York?
I have this debate all the time [laughs]. I gotta say Chicago makes the best pizza. NY pizza is so thin man. It’s like a thin slice of dough with a little bit of sauce and a little bit of cheese. You gotta fold it to eat it. It’s more like a taco pizza! Chicago pizza is full of cheese and more robust.
Where do you go to party in Chicago?
Well the Chicago nightlife scene isn’t super established like Miami or Vegas so it varies. We got some cool spots downtown for some music and good vibes. Mostly downtown I’d say.
Describe your music in 3 words?
Powerful. Relatable. Real.
Name an artist who you’d love to collab with?
I gotta say of course…Kanye West. I feel like we have a certain level of comprehension when it comes to music. I obviously haven’t achieved what he’s achieved but when it comes to understanding music, lyrics and emotion we have a lot in common. I’d also love to collab with Mary J and of course Jay-Z.
What did you think of Kanye interrupting Beck the other night at the Grammys?
Kanye can be a charming dude when he wants to. He didn’t go up there and say anything. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don’t. I feel like art for example is based off perception. We use adjectives and not facts to describe art. So we may same, “Jahzel’s music is good”, but good is not a fact it’s a feeling. So when he said Beyoncé had the best album it’s all perception. Yes, Beyoncé had a solid album. She dropped it overnight without any promotion and it killed. But at the same time, I wouldn’t agree with him saying it’s better. There’s just no tangible way to gauge that.
How has the response been to your latest album “The Wake Up”?
Man it’s crazy. The response has been dope. People all around the world have been hitting me up. So far I haven’t heard anything bad. The internet can be a mean place [laughs].
Our favorites are “Faithful” and “Who Is You”. Stream them below.
By the way… who was the girl in the “Who Is You” video?
Aw man there were a couple girls in that video [laughs]. I got this one girl named Leah. She’s my homie. She always comes through when we need her. If we need any type of modeling she refers people. Plus she’s a dope dancer. The other girl was Renée.
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Flying! I ask this question a lot to people because it tells a lot about a person’s character. If somebody says invisibility then they’re deceitful.
LOL, right. If you say invisibility or X-ray vision then you’re a creep.
[Laughs]. Who wouldn’t want to fly? Nobody can touch you. If you’re in a bad situation you can just fly away.
Describe your perfect lady…
Aw man this is a tough question. I can get in trouble for this [laughs]. I’m going to say supportive but still willing to challenge you on things, not a nagger, beautiful of course, and solid in her beliefs, morals and mind.
What’s your stance on marijuana?
I think it’s a wonderful thing [laughs]. I smoked for the first time last summer and that shit was amazing. I don’t think it’s more harmful than alcohol. Alcohol does crazy damage. I think it should be legalized everywhere.
I read somewhere that you were once called “The Element” cause you’re nice at ball. Ok here’s the situation… you’re down 2 and you get passed the rock at the top of the key with 8 seconds left… what are you doing?
I’m calling for the screen and going to the basket.
You’re not shooting the 3 to win it?
No, No, No. I’m going to the hoop with confidence and tying it up. Then I’ll destroy you in overtime. Especially if you were up. If you let me score and I took you to overtime you’d be demoralized. I’m gunna get you in overtime for sure.
What’s upcoming for Jahzel in 2015?
We’re working on a new EP and doing more shows. We really want to hit these colleges. Also, we want to do more content. Webisodes, interviews, and what not. So stay tuned!
Make sure to support Jahzel and purchase his latest album “The Wake Up” on iTunes.
Peep his site @ www.Jahzelmusic.com