Top 10 To Watch For 2010 #9 – J.A.M.E.S. Watts

Posted on March 15, 2010 by

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#9 on my Top 10 to Watch For 2010 is none other but the Jersey Producer/Emcee, J.A.M.E.S. Watts.  I am also going to make a little change to the Top 10 series, I thought it would be cool if I accompanied the brief articles I write with an interview from the artist.  That way you can get to know them through me and through them.

I do not want this to sound negative, but when I listen to J.A.M.E.S., I feel like he is always trying.  Not that he is trying too hard or that I feel like he is forcing anything, but it can be disheartening when you turn on a mixtape and it sounds like the emcee is just going through the motions.  I see the signs of effort as a dedication to J.A.M.E.S. perfecting his craft.  He is definitely passionate about music and you can tell that he isn’t leaving anything in the booth.  He has a nice flow that he adapts to popular beats as well as those produced just for him. This being said, check the video below, the interview below and download these mixtapes.  This guy is a talent that will be around for a while so you might as well gat familiar now.

Da What: First off, why don’t you tell us who are you and where are you from?

JAMES Watts: My name is J.A.M.E.S. WATTS, an artist/producer from New Jersey. But you already knew that, right? (Laughs)

DW: What do you feel are your biggest benefits to being a producer and a rapper? Biggest downside?

JW: The biggest benefit is being able to completely do a song from start to finish without needing any outside input — one of my greatest joys is self sufficiency, because I love to be able to work at my own pace and get things done how and when I want. As far as a downside, I can’t really say that there are any…maybe the pressure to make beats for other artists, but I really haven’t ventured into that much, so it hasn’t really been an issue.

DW: I understand that these are interdependent and you need all three and then some but what do you think is most important as a rapper: hard work, talent or creativity?

JW: To make it, I think hard work is key, more so than talent and creativity; let me also add in relationships to that as well…. but then again, that’s important to make it in the business. As far as making great music is concerned, that’s a whole different animal — they’re interdependent to a degree, but really, you can be successful in this game without being creative or talented — we’ve seen it a million times. For me, I feel that where I’m at today, creativity and talent supersede what it takes to make it, because if I’m successful by any other means than putting my best work out there as an MC, then it’s not a win for me. If I got a deal from dumbed down record, or switching up my style, that’s not really success, because it wouldn’t be on my own terms, and based on that which I’m about

DW: What does it mean to you to have made it in the music business?

JW: To make it in this business is to be making a good living from doing something you love to do, something you’d be doing for free anyway. Lupe Fiasco said in the song “Beamin'”, “…that’s why I’m Ferrari’d up and I’m conscious too…” — that’s my goal, to be able to attain all the luxury and maintain my integrity, stick to what I believe in.

DW: What do you think you bring to hip hop as an up and coming artist?

JW: I think the difference between me and other guys that are out here is that there’s no real ‘image’ to what I do — a lot of artists put on a face, or create a reality for listeners to digest that’s not their real life. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, because a big part of music, and entertainment as a whole, is the fantasy aspect of it all. It’s great to create a world that people can come into and be a part of, even if it’s not steeped in reality. But me? It’s just easier to be myself and give people the truth. Furthermore, I think I beast on 99% of them as far as rapping is concerned. (Laughs) I concern myself with the lyrics first, not the style and the lifestyle…a lot of new artists are all style, no substance. That’s not to disrespect anyone, but that’s just my opinion.

DW: I am sure you have answered questions about the impact the Internet has on today’s music industry, but I am curious your opinion on the how the Internet/”globalization” of music has impacted one’s location.  For example, rappers used to have to move to big markets to push their music but they now have the Internet.  Coming form Jersey, is there less of a need to push New York and just hold down where you are from?

JW: As far as New York is concerned, I’m literally fifteen minutes away in New Jersey, so there’s really no need to move there. Plus, there’s a million and four rappers in the city anyway, they don’t need one more. As far as moving somewhere to make it, being where the action is always improves your network, but at the same time, the Internet has made the business, as well as the world, smaller…you can get a lot done and make a huge impact just out of your bedroom. I used to spend night after night in the clubs in the city meeting people, trying to campaign, and while I still feel that’s important, you can build a great fanbase now without ever leaving the house. There’s pros and cons to that, and I feel like something is lost as a result of it as far as the culture is concerned, but it’s the truth nonetheless. On the other hand, the ‘net has made it so ANYONE can put out music, even people without love for the culture…fly by night types. That has made it harder for real artists to blossom and gain the attention they deserve, so it’s a gift and a curse.

DW: I first heard you on Mickey Factz’s The Leak before downloading your other tapes. How did you and Mickey begin working together? How has he impacted your music/you as a musician?

JW: Mickey and I have known each other for many years, from working the New York circuit, showcases, and constantly seeing each other at parties and events. At one point, Mick, Steve-O (A&R from GFCNY) and I were toying with the idea of me hooking up with their team and working more closely; even though that never came to pass, we ended up collaborating on “Jimmy Choos” during his ‘Leak’ series, and he invited me to be a part of the “Incredible” campaign as well. He’s always been a great dude and we’ve been good friends, so our relationship has always been built on a mutual respect for each other as artists. As far as impact, he’s just one of those guys that always brings something awesome to the table, and I’m a fan of his music, so he pushes me to step up my work whenever I hear what he’s doing. Guys like Mickey show the strength that an artist can have, even without a major label deal.

DW: Through your rendition of “Say U Will” you talk a lot about growing up:

-How do you feel you have grown as an artist through the making of your music?

-How do you feel you have grown as a person through the making of your music?

JW: I feel that as an artist and as a person, I’ve grown to be more mature; I find that I put things in better perspective than before, and that I don’t get caught up in all of the nonsense that comes with being part of this game. Also, I find that I’m trying to be more careful with what I put out into the world — I find myself becoming more concerned with not feeding into the negativity and putting out things that promote the wrong kind of ideas. I want to entertain and for what I do to be received as fresh and fun, but I feel that a lot of people have been misled by hip hop, and whether we like it or not, as artists, we’re role models — kids live by what we say and do. It’s great to have the attention and the fame put on you, but with that power comes responsibility; you have to do the right things with it.

DW: What can we expect to come from J.A.M.E.S. Watts in the future?

JW: Who knows? As far as J.A.M.E.S., you can just count on the fact that whatever I do will be from the heart, and that I’ll always try my best to do my best. To continue that, that’s the future for me.

The Re-Fix – DOWNLO@D

12 Minute Mixtape – DOWNLO@D