J. Pump is a rapper form Chillicothe, Ohio. Since 2004, he’s been gaining fans and creating music that allows him to express himself. He recently dropped “Inside This Place,” which combines melodic beats and introspective lyrics, creating a conscious and catchy hit. Here, Pump talks about his musical inspirations, his journey, and advice he’d give for other artists.
When did you start rapping / making music?
When I was 8 or 9 years old my uncle used to listen to rap and I happened to decide to pick up a Tupac album. From there it was a wrap.
What artists inspire you?
My biggest influences growing up were Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Tupac, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eminem. However, my influences come from other artists such as DMX, Outkast, Juvenile, Master P, and Nate Dogg.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with either member of Outkast, Eminem, DMX, or even Dr. Dre since some people have said I sound similar.
Where do you gain inspiration for your lyrics? What about your beats?
My inspiration for my lyrics comes from life and what I see going on around me. I feel like expressing my view points of life at any given time can give the spark I need to write my lyrics whether it be a heartbreak or a great night full of fun.
How long have you been making music?
I have been making music for 13 years since 2004.
What’s something you would tell someone else in a similar position who wants to make music? What advice would you give?
My best advice would be to never give up and never stop learning, because when you think you know it all in the music industry is when you fooled yourself. There is so much to learn and a never ending process if you want to evolve as an artist.
What is your favorite part about making music?
My favorite part of making music is being able to freely express whatever feeling may be in my heart and soul with the rest of the world.
I spoke with Pennsylvania rapper Eric Will. He shares his journey of becoming a rapper and his true goal of inspiring others.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you’re from, how you started, and what you’re about?
I’m from Easton Pennsylvania. I started back when I was 14 years old. I mean, I started when I was younger, I learned a few instruments and stuff, but then I got like a piano and I started to make like little hip hop beats with my friends, and from there we just kind of started writing stuff and doing like little recordings. My dad was really into music, so he got like a microphone setup and everything, so we would just mess around with little instrumentals and all that kind of stuff when I was 14. And then from there, me and him just kind of kept doing it and just working towards that, and it’s been quite a journey. I have so much more to learn and master my craft and stuff, but it’s just been an amazing journey so far.
When did your writing develop? You’re making these instrumentals, starting off with these beats, where did you find the inspiration to craft and write lyrics?
So me and my friend, we actually both started out with just freestyles. And then probably when I was about 15 or so I started to write my own stuff. I actually had like a whole book- a little book- with a bunch of words that like a rhyme together [laughs]. I would just go through the book and like write a song, it wasn’t anything great but it was little exercises to learn more rhymes and stuff like that. You know, it started when I was 14, but I feel like I didn’t really get extremely serious until I was like 17. That’s when I really started to sit down and produce and write, you know? My songs like really came together and my voice and my mind and who I am.
What changed? What made you think, ‘I need to sit down and get serious about this.’ What in your life made you come to that realization?
So, like, in high school, I had a few very close friends and they all kind of liked my stuff so they told me like, ‘dude, you should just keep pursuing it.’ And of course you have haters and stuff in the beginning, and they’re all trying to hold me back, but you know I feel like both ends of the spectrum -people that hated it and people that encourage me to do it- really like flipped the switch on me. And people were like, ‘dude, you should just keep doing it, just keep doing it,’ you know? I turned 17, I had a job, so I like went and bought everything so I could record my own stuff. That’s really what did it, was when I went out and bought all the recording stuff to help produce my own music.
What challenges have you faced along this road?
From people, of course. Everyone has an opinion on music and stuff. When I first started, you know, you’re never going to jump into anything you do and be like amazing at it. You know, a lot of people, when I first started, that were like ‘you shouldn’t do this and this and that,’ and everybody hated and stuff, so that was a huge thing. Getting over that barrier, passing that barrier, where everyone said I should stop. And, you know, it’s hard to keep doing something that everybody tells you, like, ‘no you shouldn’t do it anymore.’ So that’s definitely one challenge. And of course the money, you know, and going to school. I don’t know how it is down there, going to high school and stuff. Over here, going to high school, we can get up at 6 o’clock in the morning.
“So I’d go from 6 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night after work and then come home and try to write lyrics, it was crazy. That was definitely a huge challenge. But you know it’s that grind that you put into it I guess that really shapes it.”
Yeah, it’s your motivation that makes you stick out. That’s what holds people back and that’s what makes people stand out. So who are you working with right now? Or who have you worked with in the past?
I guess I’ll just start with like my management. I got a manager early this year, he’s an awesome guy. He really helps me out with all my promotions and stuff like that. I have a producer that I actually just recently got, his name is Homage, we are working on an album just recently. We just decided that we can definitely make something cool, so we just started just signing some contracts and stuff like that. I worked with Hi-Rez. I mean, he’s an awesome guy. He was kind of like the first big person that I got to work with and I remember messaging him- it was crazy- he got back to me right away, and I was like ‘oh my God’ [laughing]. He’s like one of my favorite artists for such a long time, since high school, so when we got to talking it was just awesome. Then he actually hooked me up one day with Emilio Rojas, and he’s an awesome guy too. We actually had a track as well, I plan on working with a few other artists in the future. I would like to maybe work with like Chris Webby, and I plan on working, down the road, again with Hi-Rez and Emilio, maybe working on a track.
So you talked about how you’re kind of in the process of a new album coming out, how far along are you?
We’re just planning it out right now. It’s going to be more like a mixtape, not like an album, like 7 to 9 songs, give or take. We’re still like planning the release date, I’m not a hundred percent sure what time. We’re looking at it right now, and in the next couple weeks I’ll definitely be able to give a timeframe for sure, and that’ll be released on my social medias and stuff. We are just planning stuff out and getting the feel. I definitely want to have like a trap-y and old-school feel, and really combine the two, almost two rap types.
Yeah definitely, that would be unique. What do you think about your style, or even your taste in music, makes you different than other hip hop artists?
I think what makes it unique, my style, is that I like to combine old school and trap, like I can do both, alternative rap, all these different types of rap, and I think that is a huge thing. I want to make stuff that, not only can you party to it, but when you’re alone and you listen to it, you can really sit down and be like, ‘Wow, he’s talking about this and it’s real stuff.’ I think is important to have that mixture and I plan to definitely in this album, I plan to have you know some songs that start off old school and then they go off into this trap vibe, and just really give it an awesome combination of two awesome types of rap. Just combine back in the 90s, to the early 2000’s, to now, 2016, 2015, and stuff.
That sounds like a good combination. So where do you find inspiration for lyrics that people can really get a message out of? From your life and your own personal observations and struggles, or what’s going on around you?
For the most part, right now, I take what’s going on around me, just things in my daily life. I like to reach into some of my old stuff [from] when I first started. My friend’s not really doing it any more, I know he kind of got into some trouble, but I like to reach back into that old stuff in my past. Stuff that I wanted to say back when I first started but I couldn’t or whatever, like to put it in now. For other songs I kind of see what’s going on around me, stuff like that.
What do you see around you, or other artists, or other people, things, in general; what really inspires you?
A lot of artists, like Logic. Old school Logic, and his new stuff, he really inspires me. Futuristic, Eminem, he’s come out recently with his new song, which was like crazy, crazy, crazy awesome. That kind of stuff inspires me, and then everything that’s just kind of going on in the world too. It’s just crazy, if you look at the news and stuff. I like to kind of tap into that, but put my own style into that. You know, like I said, talk about this real stuff but kind of put it onto a beat that people can party too, so it’s kind of like a subliminal message. You know, they’re partying to it, whatever, but they’re also understanding this is going on.
You get the best of both worlds in that. So what you see for the future?
For my future, I’d really like to reach out to maybe some labels and stuff like that, in the future. I mean, my main goal in all of this music, really, the reason why I even started in the first place, was just to inspire people to follow their dreams and their passions, and that they can do it and stuff like that. So definitely trying even more to get my music out there to connect to people that feel like they can’t do it and tell them that they can. I feel like that’s definitely a long-term goal that I would really love to share with other people. And of course, like, reach out to other labels and all that kind of stuff and then just build up my brand and everything.
Have you ever done any shows?
I have done a few. I’ve, so far, I’ve only done like college shows. I actually might have one coming up, I have to talk to my manager a little bit about it more. One in Maryland, and I might have something that’s coming up soon, but yeah. I have done a couple shows at Stroudsburg University and then a few stuff up there. I plan to do some stuff at Shippensburg University and just some more stuff hopefully up the East Coast and future, later on, down the West Coast.
What do you find different in recording your own song or performing for your friends, what do you find different about that from performing on stage in front of students and a bunch of people? Do you ever get nervous?
I definitely do get nervous. I think what’s really different, especially because I always do it in front of my friends and I can just do you so easily I guess, because they already know what I have to offer. When you go perform in front of, especially college kids, they’re like ‘all right what is this kid doing’ and then you get up there and they’re like ‘wow, it’s crazy, this kid’s like really spitting bars!’ And it’s definitely like the reaction of the crowd that really gives you like the confidence and stuff. You almost like feed off of it, it’s just awesome. It’s always nerve-racking, right before you go on, but once you get a song or two out it gets a lot easier. Definitely an adrenaline rush.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give someone so that they don’t give up on a dream like this?
I would just tell people, you know, if you believe, you got to believe in yourself. It’s your passion, it’s your love. If you have such a love for something never let it go. Just follow it, you know, and everything will come along with it. Don’t worry about the money, don’t worry about all that kind of stuff, as long as you follow your dream and your passion and your want for something that’s so strong, everything will come along with it, that’s just how it works. It’s important. I was actually just talking to a kid that messaged me today for advice on his music, and I said just believe in yourself.
“That’s the most important thing, and when people don’t believe in you, you gotta believe in yourself and your craft and do it for yourself ,and everything will come along with it.”
Interview with Cincinnati-based rapper and producer, Cing Curt
Hi good morning, well morning over here.
Hey, good afternoon over here.
I want to start with a little bit of your backstory. Where do you live? Where are you from?
I’m from Cincinnati. I live in a suburb a little north of Cincinnati. I started making music when I was around 7 or 8. When I first started writing, I ended up getting a karaoke machine for 20 bucks from the flea market with my dad, and he bought me some cassette tapes and I started recording from there. So I’ve been doing this for a while, it’s something I love to do.
What was that first moment when you’d say you became a songwriter or a rapper?
I remember some kid in school, I was like 8 by the way, some kid was walking on his hands at recess or something and all the girls were going crazy over him, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t walk on my hands. I went home that day, tried walking on my hands, and it was that night I was listening to music and I wrote a rap song. I wrote this girl a rap song, and took her over the paper, and it worked. So since then, I’ve just been going with it [laughing].
[Laughing] That’s a great story. When you’re rich and famous that is gonna be the thing you’re gonna have to tell a million times.
Yeah, I still know the girl I wrote the rap song for. It’s pretty funny.
So tell me about being a producer.
Yeah, I produce a lot of my own beats and I also engineer all my stuff. It’s really good to be behind the sound of all your music because you get the final say in everything, but it’s also kind of difficult, you know, it’s a lot of work.
Yeah, you’re your own boss so that kind of comes with the freedom but also the challenges. So have you produced other rappers?
Yeah, I produced for a guy named Jay Al, he’s from around here, and he had a music video premier on Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital YouTube channel. It’s got like a million subscribers. And a guy named Picasso from around here, he’s been on the radio stations around here and he’s done a lot of opening for artists like MGK and Juicy J.
Wow that’s awesome. In the beginning were your making mash-ups or have you always made your own beats as you’ve written your own lyrics?
I actually recently got into making my own beats, last March is when I got the equipment to make it myself because buying beats got too expensive. And that full ownership of a beat from an unknown producer can cost up to five grand, so it’s safer to go the route of making your own beats.
How do beats just come into your head? What is your process of thinking that and then creating that?
It depends on what mood I’m in. If I’m in a happy mood I’ll make a little drum beat that’s kind of upbeat and happier.
“Usually when I just make what I’m feeling, then I make the best kind of music.”
Right it’s genuine in that case. Who else have you worked with or worked for?
Recently in the last few months I’ve been linking up with other producers and engineers. There’s a guy in Cincinnati, his name’s Kyle Otto, he runs a studio called Otto Labs. He and some of the guys have been on MTV’s blog site; they go out of town, to Vegas and California, they go to labels and they shop their singles out. So I’ve been recently working with him trying to make something shake. About a month ago a minor league baseball player [John Williamson] from the Cubs hit me up, and he wants to remix my song “Mission.” He’s verified on Spotify; got like 13,000 monthly listeners, so it’s really cool.
Cool, good for you. Let’s talk about your new album Perspective. What was your inspiration for that?
This is my first album so I was trying to have as much of a subject matter as I could. Once I came up with the idea ‘perspective,’ I just went with it. Once I got it, I just started putting as much content in it as I could.
How long did that take you?
I was working on the tape for a little over a year.
How long does it usually take you to create and produce a song?
The crazy thing is that it varies. There are songs on the tape that I’ve spent three or four months perfecting. There’s songs on there that I started from scratch that I finished in a weekend.
How or when do you think of lyrics? Do you have to sit down and really think about it, or do they just come to you?
Sometimes it just comes to me. I’ll be out and about doing something or I’ll just be in the studio writing a song, and I’ll have another idea. And then sometimes I’ll have to sit down and write a little storyboard. Sometimes I have to pretty much write down the story before I write lyrics to it.
Who inspires you as an artist?
I would have to say Nas. I grew up listening to him, so it’s real nostalgic. He’s a great storyteller, so I cling to his music. Present day probably like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad.
Have you done any shows?
Yeah, I did a show in Cleveland in July and I’ve done a few shows around Cincinnati at smaller venues.
How does it feel when you’re up there?
I love the whole atmosphere of shows, especially when it’s live and everyone’s in tune with it. Just getting on stage and putting something on for the people who are feeling the environment. Especially if you got a decent catalogue, you can play a song that goes with the mood. Once you get into there’s no better feeling.
Where do you want to go with this? Why are you doing it?
I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s like I don’t even think about it anymore I just do it. I definitely want to eventually start opening up some shows, getting bigger shows. I want to be the best. I want to be memorable, I want to have a lasting effect on people and I want to inspire. Music always helps; it helped me growing up, I’d listen to music when I was growing up and I’d relate.
It was in 2014 when rapper YG released his album My Krazy Life; however, one song on the track is now sparking criticism from Chinese-Americans.
“Meet the Flockers,” a single on the album, is being blamed as an incitement of violence against Chinese residents in the U.S.
The lyrics about robbing houses, particularly Chinese residents, go as far to say: “First, you find a house and scope it out. Find a Chinese neighborhood ‘cause they don’t believe in bank accounts.” These lines were controversial when they were first released, but a recent home invasion in Atlanta has Chinese-Americans petitioning President Obama to ban the song. The recent incident involved three armed men that broke into a Chinese-American woman’s house attempting to rob her, but she shot at the invaders with a handgun.
YG’s song and accompanying music video are igniting outrage in China, too. China Daily called the song “A how-to for those who attempt to break into homes and rob a specific ethnic group.” Ph Dragon, a Chinese rapper based in L.A., released his own rebuttal diss song directed at YG, saying, “Yo, YG/Now the Chinese neighborhood finds you/And you’re gonna taste your own stuff/What goes around comes around/Checking out YouTube look here what I found/Little punk ass people rapping about robbing Chinese.” Ph Dragon continued by saying, “When I first heard the track, I felt so disrespected. I felt so hurt. I need to stand up to say something about it.”
Chinese-Americans and fellow critics of the song launched a petition on September 21st. So far, it has gained 38,000 signatures and can be signed through “We the People,” a section of the White House website. If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures the government will have to respond to the complaint. Some Chinese-American business owners also went to the FBI and complained to U.S. attorneys to take video down, but were told that the 1st Amendment defends it as free speech.
Moving on from ’14, rapper YG has recently released Still Brazy and is currently touring.
Waka Flocka Flame at The Observatory last night was fantastic! He came out and ran through the crowd (as only Waka would do) and even got right next to me and my friends. Once again The Observatory served as a great venue. I recommend this venue time and time again because of spacious dance floor and close proximity to the stage. Of course, if you’re tying to be up at the front, there is pushing as expected. But if you’re not into being shoved around you can stand at the back of the crowd at a higher level and get a great view and still be super close. Waka rapped some of his most recent drops which he performed excellently and some of his classics. He was great live, charismatic, interactive, and fully engaged in his audience. He showed the same heart he did on stage as he does in his albums and interviews. I once again purchased my tickets about a week before the concert at Access Music and they once again came through with cheap and last-minute tickets. Thanks for an awesome night, Waka!
March 2nd Tyga was in San Diego rapping at the Observatory in North Park. His performance was outstanding, featuring old hits and new songs, great visual effects, and even a surprise appearance by Kylie Jenner. His headliners were a rap group from Atlanta that came out into the crowd and whom I got to meet and take a picture with. The Observatory is a unique venue because if you get to the show about an hour or so before the doors open, you can stand at the front of the crowd right next to the stage. That was another reason Tyga’s concert was so spectacular. I was at the front for most of the time, but when I was at the back of the crowd I noticed Kylie Jenner and a friend standing above everyone at the loft with seats watching Tyga. When people started noticing her and pointing her out she went away, but reappeared during Tyga’s song “Stimulated,” which also featured the music video playing on the giant screen behind the stage. Tyga was phenomenal live. He was full of energy, performed songs everyone knew and the oldies I was hoping for, and sounded just like he does on his tracks. Another shout out I’d like to make is to Access Music on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, for selling me tickets to this concert 30 minutes before it began! The decision to go was sort of a spontaneous one, and this place had twenty tickets they were still selling. I was able to go there, pick up three tickets, and get to the concert about half an hour before Tyga came on. I’m so glad I found out about this business, because a few weeks later I bought tickets last minute from them again for Waka Flocka Flame. If you’re ever in need of some tickets on the fly, try Access Music!
All in all Tyga was an awesome live performer and someone I’d definitely see again. He’s continuing his tour in Las Vegas at the end of May.