Rapper J-Solomon traced back the origins of his upcoming album release to the days when he first started rapping.
Known by his real name, Jason Jackson, the 35-year-old rapper remembered finally shifting his sights from writing poetic verses to spitting rhymes when he was 15 or 16 years old. Journal writing in Ms. Hopkins’ fifth grade class prepared him for this. As did the decade of recording his own analog, reel-to-reel tracks.
“I made a bunch of songs, but I never released any of my music,” said J-Solomon. “I always felt bad. The things I rap about sometimes get a little extravagant and exaggerated. Sometimes, in life, whether you’re at a club or doing something crazy with your friends, you get a little wild and sometimes the speech gets a little wild.”
A father since he was 19, J-Solomon felt he needed to be an example for his children, and neglected to release his material. “I always wrestled with those issues,” he added. “Do I release it and have my son hear some of this stuff? Pretty soon it got to the point where I felt kind of repetitive and I never wanted to be repetitive. I wanted to be the best.”
Now that his kids have gotten older, J-Solomon is seizing his opportunity to release an album — titled “My Cellar Door” — to showcase himself as he is now. However, he’s had to catchup to the current standards of hip-hop artists. Everything from operating social media presence to recording digitally has been different experience for the hip-hop artist.
“As this process goes on, I have to wear different hats,” he said. “I wish I could just sit back and be an artist, but at this time I have to wear my manager cap, my promotional cap, booking agent cap.”
But as an artist, J-Solomon’s goal has always been to elicit emotion and use “vocabulary not normally used in hip-hop.” Production for the songs on “My Cellar Door” began a year and a half ago, he said.
“I was finally where I needed to be,” said J-Solomon. “I graduated college, I got my bachelor’s, my oldest is 16, my youngest is 3 — but at the same time I feel confident that I can keep my social media separate to make sure any music I don’t want my son to listen to I can keep away from him. I was able to provide for my house and my family and own my own car and have all my bills in order.”
At this point in his life, J-Solomon said he can justify putting money toward his music. When the rapper first began making music, he pushed himself to promote his brand of hip-hop, however brief it might have been. Familial responsibilities came first. Only now is he able to juggle priority between his passion for music and his duties as an adult.
Cellar door is supposed to be one of the beautiful phrases in the English language, regardless of semantics. Knowing this, J-Solomon figured it might make a good title for his album. Content wise, J-Solomon said “My Cellar Door” features a wide variety of styles. “It’s all over the place,” he said.
Feeding off his life experiences as inspiration, “My Cellar Door” features songs about addiction and about the birth of J-Solomon’s daughter. One track includes guest singer Amanda Hawkins, a former “American Idol” contestant. The two shared a similar story when trying to kickoff their music careers.
“She had her first kid and was in the music industry 100 percent,” J-Solomon said. “So we talked about parent life and how it affects everything. Working with her was great.”
J-Solomon is confident in his abilities and sets high standards for himself. His goals as a hip-hop artist are high.
“I love hip-hop, but what when somebody hears my album they don’t know who to compare me to,” he said. “I try to be completely different. I don’t rap on a trap beat and I’m not a gimmick rapper. I’m legitimately trying to be the best rapper in the game. And if you’re not doing that, what are you trying to do?”
J-Solomon will release “My Cellar Door” Thursday (July 5).