by: Ali Shana
Recently, I met up with JJ Jabber to discuss 'Insert Title Here', the mixtape he released this past December. At a coffee shop, the lyricist/producer and I discussed his plans, influences, and passion for music. ‘Insert Title Here’ was produced by Jabber, excluding the drums on the song ‘The Master’ of the project, which was done by Mammyth (Charles Forsberg). Forsberg also engineered the vocals for the tape. As soon as I asked how the tape’s sound came to be, Jabber described the importance of his role in production.
The two are long time friends who both come from the world of metal music. At one point, they both shared a practice space for their former bands. “Charles will push you,” says Jabber, “he made me the artist I am today. He taught me how to use the software.” I noted how like Dad’s ‘Father Figure EP’, another product of Mammyth's engineering, ‘Insert Title Here’ had a similar use of ad libs and Hurt Everybody-esque vocal effects. “That’s all Charles, man.” Says Jabber, “Charles showed me artists like Hurt Everybody, Mick Jenkins, and Alex Wiley. The Chicago scene was an influence in general.”
This mixtape is the type of music you’d cruise to, letting the instrumentals slap in the back of your car. Songs like ‘Patterns’ and ‘White Collar’ are some notable anthems. The entire tape has an eerie vibe and head nodding flow. It was surprising to hear the majority of it was made in the span of two months.
“Songs like ‘Intro’ and ‘Girl Next Door’ are a year and a half old. But other than that, most decisions were made last minute. I made the beat and wrote the lyrics to ‘Live.Life’ at work.” Jabber explained how the final touches of the tape and its promotion were fairly rushed. “The project had just gotten mixed and mastered the night before we released it. Every time we have released artwork, my girlfriend paints it the night before. I had to take a hi-res picture and send it to be edited right away.”
The artwork on ‘Insert Title Here’ was very minimalist and suiting of the name. The only constant in the artwork from song to song is the figure image. The subject of the artwork was faceless. All of the paintings had an empty white background and the tape’s title was as seemingly empty.
“I was getting grilled by everyone for finding a name for the project,” Jabber laughs, “'Insert Title Here' can be taken so many different ways. Even the lyrics and beats aren’t straightforward.”
The beats seemed to have their common elements, however, the lyrics were somewhat chaotic. Although they always returned to the ideas of drugs and making something out of nothing, you could never predict exactly where Jabber’s lyrics were headed. A certain lawlessness is prevalent in this release.
“Aesop Rock is a big influence on my writing. He seemed like he had no rules. He can say anything and make it work.”
Jabber had just gotten back from Minneapolis working on producing Prof’s album. He worked in the same studio that many Rhymesayers have worked in, such as Brother Ali. “We got really fucked up and made a bunch of music, locked in the studio. Atmosphere showed up the first day. It was crazy and I was the youngest there.” Jabber worked with Prof, producer Willie Wonka, and Curtiss King while in Minneapolis.
The artist emphasized that this only marked the beginning of what he wanted to do. He further explained that he doesn’t want to be limited to just hip hop. “I am a very versatile dude. I freak out when things get too habitual in my life. I want to range from electronic to R&B to whatever else I am feeling.” Jabber also plans on eventually releasing a quality video and considering live production sets in the future. “At the end of the day, I don’t even care if people bump this. I just want them to know I am here.”
We hear you Jabber. We are definitely listening. Stream ‘Insert Title Here’ below and make sure to look out for this young artist.