conducted by Angus Crawford
Itâ€™s hard for rappers to stay true these days, because, to paraphrase Ice Cube, staying true doesnâ€™t pay the fucking rent. Fortunately for fans (and unfortunate for himself) Mr. J. Medeiros knows only way to do things and thatâ€™s be himself. No nicknames and no gimmicks. Like any true artist he puts his blood, sweat and tears into his work and couldnâ€™t care less about radio play or seeing his video on 106.
After speaking with him, I got the feeling that as long he can pay his bills and continues to tour the world, there is nothing Medeiros would rather be doing than Hip Hop (not rap, but Hip Hop). His song and video for â€œConstanceâ€ are look into the ugly world of human trafficking and child pornography and is suggested viewing for everyone (peep his website www.myspace.com/mrjmedeiros to see). Passion cannot be faked and with each sentence, Mr. J. exudes that passion for his music, his friendâ€™s music, hip hop, and humanity.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™m in my apartment in Los Angeles.
MVRemix: Oh okay, you live in L.A. now. Youâ€™re originally from Colorado, right.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™m originally from Colorado. Itâ€™s kind of weird, you know what, but I claim dual citizenship. Iâ€™m from Colorado but I was born of two very very East Coast parents, so I claim Rhode Island too.
MVRemix: So letâ€™s talk about this album. Youâ€™ve been busy, right?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™ve been a little busy, it comes out July 24th. I wrote this album between the first and the second Procussionsâ€™ album and I had a month to do it. Basically, we were touring 200 days a year and we were also recording our second album and I only had a month to do it, so I produced all the tracks and I wrote all the tracks, but, you know Iâ€™ve never had to produce a track that I rapped on. Iâ€™ve always been a producer even before Stro got into the game and came into The Procussions but I never did as much as Stro did it. When Stro got into the group, his production skills are amazing; to me personally I think he is an amazing producer, so he produced all The Procussionsâ€™ materials and so I was a little insecure about it [producing the album himself]. To be honest I had 14 tracks I produced and I when I recorded it all with my production, I got really insecure, so I took a lot of the tracks and sent my acapellas to my homeboys like Ill Mind, S1, Stro, Headnotic, Joey B., Omega Wattz, Marty James and 20syl from France who is an amazing producer for this group called Hocus Pocus. Itâ€™s funny though because then people would be calling me and be like who did â€œConstanceâ€, and Iâ€™d be like, â€œI did that trackâ€.
Mr. J. Medeiros: I was like what. And then they like â€œWhat about â€˜Keep Paceâ€™â€ and I was like â€œI did that trackâ€ and then it was like â€œSilent Earth?â€, and I said â€œOh, did that trackâ€. Now Iâ€™m like damn, I think I might try to put out an album with all my mixes, maybe people will dig it.
MVRemix: Yeah it seemed like you had a hard time picking beats. I think you have four remixes on there.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah man I did, I got four remixes. A lot of those things that come off as originals are actually redone, like â€œStrangersâ€ â€˜Stro did and I had originally done the track I but gave the acapella to â€˜Stro and â€˜Stro gave a whole new life to it that I liked.
MVRemix: So you said that you did a lot of this album before 5 Sparrows. It sounds a little different than the Procussions.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah I think it is different. Being in a group you share everything, you share your money, you share an apartment, you share a hotel room, you share the stage, you share the energy, you share the time in a song and you share the subject matter. Weâ€™re all different from each other and I think thatâ€™s what makes the Procussions good. I think our main focus is on the show, we do music so that we can put on a good show. We love doing live performances, we love seeing people sweat and have a good time. We do want to have content, but content is molded into the show. I think on my side, I want to do something content based and then worry about the show afterward. And there was some things that really wouldnâ€™t fit on the album.
MVRemix: â€œLittle Peopleâ€ sounds like something, from a Procussions album that could be on this album.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Actually, you know what man, â€œLittle Peopleâ€ was a song that I pushed for and wrote. Everyone writes their own lyrics but I said I wanted the content to be and then we did it and so yeah it actually is. A lot of 5 Sparrows…You know I was in this thing called AmeriCorp, which is like a domesticated PeaceCorp and I worked with people with developmental disabilities for four years and worked with Special Olympics and people who are considered â€œAt Risk Youthâ€ and did the tutoring and mentorship and worked with a womenâ€™s rights group for a little while and Iâ€™m working on this human trafficking campaign and thatâ€™s just a part of something Iâ€™ve grown into throughout life. Itâ€™s not necessarily something that…. they [other members of the Procussions] are interested in but something that they have a heart for. Like Stro heâ€™s very into music and production and he cares very much for people but he doesnâ€™t get involved on that level, and because Iâ€™m involved on that level it really forms my heart and my pen to say things off those issues. Thatâ€™s more of my concern now and, as I get older too, I get less involved in just trying to put on a good show and more involved in really trying to create a strong content.
MVRemix: I want to talk about â€œConstanceâ€. Thatâ€™s my favorite song on the album.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Thank you my brother.
MVRemix: Itâ€™s a really good song. So what inspired you to write that song?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Well, itâ€™s actually a true story. Thereâ€™s a lot of things that inspired me to write the song. Itâ€™s not just a human trafficking issue though itâ€™s defined as human trafficking. Constance was a thirteen year old girl that was sold by her father to a man who was a human trafficker who used her to create child porn and to make money off of it. Child porn is a billion dollar industry. Pornography itself brings in more revenue than all the sports combined. It is a human trafficking issue but is also something that is bigger than that. I think that we live in a man-run society, obviously, and controlled by men. Hip hop is controlled and spoken for by men…When you look at hip hop music and most of it because it is man-run, itâ€™s putting women down below themselves, itâ€™s a misogynistic tone, itâ€™s this numb feeling about what a man is….True identities are being lost….The identity of man and the identity of women and both these are being displayed in â€œConstanceâ€. Itâ€™s an important song, itâ€™s important for hip hop to do it, itâ€™s important for a male artist to speak about it because in general men are tired of the image we are being sold.
MVRemix: You mentioned that itâ€™s a male dominated industry, a male dominated world and think thatâ€™s exemplified in the â€œConstanceâ€ song and video, because itâ€™s the father selling his daughter, the man videotaping her, and itâ€™s the other guy in the U.S. purchasing that video, so itâ€™s all men causing this. It kind reminded of…Have you seen that movie Babel?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yes, following the gun kind of.
MVRemix: Yeah like, look at how we are all connected in this type of thing. We deal with our issues here sometimes, and a lot of people, including rappers, donâ€™t deal with issues outside the country.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Right…yeah I understand. Itâ€™s crazy, I feel very blessed man. When I was in High School my family was broke. A lot of families are broke but I remember we use to have to go to the Salvation Army for very basic needs, toilet paper and toothpaste and I remember my parents were split and we lived in Providence [Rhode Island] at the time, and sleeping on the floor and things like these. I never had the ability to go see the world and through Hip Hop music I was able to see the world…Itâ€™s unfortunate that kids because of their economic background or the way that they grow up, will not be allowed to see the rest of the world and the way that we are connected. Their education is not allowing them or inspiring them or the home is not inspiring them to learn to really want to get involved with the rest of the world. We donâ€™t even see things as a U.S. problem, we see things as Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, Echo Park, Watts, I mean we separate ourselves by so many different levels, how are we able to see the world? Any chance we have to reach out of ourselves, when we look at things that are macro scale, thatâ€™s when things really come into perspective. And we are all connected, the tiny things we say on our record, itâ€™s a butterfly effect.
MVRemix: Letâ€™s talk about the album some more. Whatâ€™s your favorite track on the CD?
Mr. J. Medeiros: My favorite track is â€œContstanceâ€ because it raises awareness about an issue that is really important. â€œSilent Earthâ€ I like because I like what was able to write off of the track. Itâ€™s crazy because I produced the track, and I donâ€™t really get too hyped off my own production and that was the track I really dug and so I wrote to it that day. And â€œKeep Paceâ€ I really liked because I liked the energy of the track. One thing I dug too about the album was getting to work with Bonsu. Weâ€™ve been going back and forth to France for the last three or four years and meeting up with this crew Hocus Pocus, which is an amazing hip hop group and this producer 20Syl is off the freaking hook, heâ€™s incredible. You go to his MySpace page, you see this video of him..heâ€™s like Stro, he plays sax, he plays keys, he makes his own videos, does the MPCs, heâ€™s part of an international winning DJ team, so dude is a phenomenal producer. But to have French on my album and a French producer its just a treat and a blessing.
MVRemix: Thatâ€™s on the first track, â€œAmelieâ€ right?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah thatâ€™s on the first track and he also produced â€œHalf A Dreamâ€ which has my man Marty James singing on it.
MVRemix: Is that Amelie like the movie? Is that why you called it that?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Well, actually French people didnâ€™t like that movie as much as Americans. That got a billion cool movies out there. I had a secret infatuation with Audrey Tautou.
MVRemix: [laughs] I feel you.
Mr. J. Medeiros: [laughs] Yeah man, I had something for her at the time I wrote that. Itâ€™s also a little bit off the movie, itâ€™s obviously a love song, some people might think its corny, but to me its real. Itâ€™s about someone who, through the whole film you know Audrey Tautou is trying to connect her feelings to someone sheâ€™s never met yet and thatâ€™s what the songs about.
MVRemix: So you guys are touring soon?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah man, weâ€™re going to have a tour but we are not sure how we are going to do it yet. It may be a Rawkus tour with Kids in the Hall, Blue Scholars and maybe a couple of weeks here in the states. Itâ€™s going to be a Procussions presents though, so people are going to be able to get Procussions and Mr. J if they like both of them.
MVRemix: Do you know when the tour starts?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Weâ€™re not exactly sure yet man. If people just keep up with us on my MySpace and keep up with www.theprocussions.com theyâ€™ll always be hip to new stuff.
MVRemix: I reviewed The Procussions album last year for another site and re-read what I wrote about you at the time, and I said that you kind of sounded like Zach De La Rocka but after listening to this album I donâ€™t see that.
Mr. J. Medeiros: [laughs] Yeah, yeah thereâ€™s a lot of people who say that. You know in a live show, I kind of do get that comparison. You never know about your own voice until someone tells you. We did a show with Jurassic 5, it was crazy because Charlie 2na, obviously has a remarkable voice and a distinct voice, he comes down from the green room, which is actually upstairs and far away and walks down to me and heâ€™s like â€œDude your voice is crazy. Do you realize that the pitch of your voice pretty much screens through everything?â€ And Iâ€™ve noticed that soundman have a problem with my voice too and I think thatâ€™s the relation to Zach, itâ€™s that itâ€™s a pitch that kind of goes through stuff. You know, I think it depends on the energy of the track and I think a lot of the tracks on my solo stuff is kind of laid back so I was able to sit back more. I understand you always get defined as other people too because when you havenâ€™t made a name for yourself, people use other names to try to describe you at first. Itâ€™s kind of like if you donâ€™t have your own taste yet or a name for your own taste people will be like â€œit kind of tastes this a littleâ€ or â€œa little like that. Iâ€™m trying to come into my own place. Iâ€™m not going to lie you know, The Procussions are from Colorado, weâ€™re not from Brooklyn, and weâ€™re not from Los Angeles, and we didnâ€™t grow up around the hip hop environment, we created it and thatâ€™s something thatâ€™s different. And Procussions we try to be real honest with ourselves and I try to be honest with myself for the people who enjoy our music…Iâ€™m still learning a lot, Iâ€™m still learning my voice, Iâ€™m still learning trying to define how I want to rap and what I want to rap about and it changes with time. Our first second albums are very different, and Iâ€™m ten songs deep on another album that only Stro is producing and I love it.
MVRemix: Oh yeah…
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™m mad cause I want that to come out right now. Iâ€™m learning and I hope people will have an open mind and be able to listen to us and grow with us, because at the end of the day we are fans of hip hop that really love what we are doing and we are just trying to connect with other people as well.
MVRemix: Okay. How about that tattoo, you were on Miami Ink.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Itâ€™s Miami Ink, if you have ever seen them itâ€™s the same thing, big story small tattoo.
MVRemix: [laughs] What does it say?
Mr. J. Medeiros: It says â€œForgive Usâ€ and itâ€™s on my shoulders. It was like a seven hour project that I got done in one sitting. It was my first tattoo and Iâ€™m not going to lie there were some parts on my back, where I felt like my teeth shaking it hurt so much. Like I could feel it in my front teeth, but yo I didnâ€™t cry.
MVRemix: [laughs] Thatâ€™s good. Thatâ€™s good.
Mr. J. Medeiros: I know how that goes. Wasnâ€™t one of the G-Unit guys on there?
MVRemix: Iâ€™ve never seen the show.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Oh okay. There was one of the G-Unit guys who got a back tattoo also, and I just want to say right now for the record that he got a back outline, he didnâ€™t even get it colored in and that dude needed to do two sittings.
MVRemix: Which guy? One of the rappers?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah, yeah. Who is the guy that has the song the â€œRotten Appleâ€?
MVRemix: Lloyd Banks.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Lloyd Banks I want you to know Mr. J. Medeiros from that corny group The Procussions did a 7 and a half hour sitting full color and yo man no tears.
MVRemix: [laughs]…Any last words for the fans?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Itâ€™s weird because I think Iâ€™m just starting to get my own fans and I love it. I donâ€™t mean my fans like they are product but I mean a community of people who in support of something, not that Iâ€™m a leader, but weâ€™re working together on issues that I happen to bring up and that are being brought up in the music. I want a big huge shout and love to anyone who is still digging for music, who still looks for it and doesnâ€™t rely on the television or radio and, you know, just being interested in issues. I really believe that we can make a difference if we focus on knowing that itâ€™s possible.