Chicago is one of the hottest cities in hip hop and much of it has to due with their wide range of hip hop talent. Drill music has become a way of life in hip hop, expanding well outside of the city of Chicago. Meanwhile, there are more soulful artists, such as Jahzel, who are doing their thing.
Jahzel is the man of the hour today, as he released his new mixtape, In God’s Image. As stated in many tales, humans are created in God’s image and Jahzel has reflected this in his music. Humanity is very complex and simple at the same time, but full of contradictions and Jahzel recounts all of this with his new release.
Hip Hop Vibe was fortunate enough to be a part of the big day for Jahzel, as he released his In God’s Image project. In the interview, Jahzel talked about how the mixtape came together, his sources of inspiration, and the city he is from. Chicago hip hop is very diverse because of people such as Jahzel.
Read the entire interview below:
So, you released In God’s Image today, walk us through how you prepared your mixtape release? To prepare for the release, I wanted to make sure it was set to go, since we had so many tracks. So, we decided to use Soundcloud and I wanted to make sure it was all good to go. Then, we also set up some in-stores throughout Chicago and there are some hard copies we are giving out to the people. This is my work that I put out for the people, so I had a promotional schedule to abide by so people had the best possible experience.
Is there a specific reason you opted to go the non-DJ route for this project, yet still classified it as a mixtape? Yeah. The reason I went without doing the DJ hosting is because everybody uses the big name DJ for their projects. I did that on my last project, but I wanted to do something different for this project. But, I wanted to keep the mixtape form so I could keep the freedom and not pressure myself with putting an album out. The best of both words, so to speak.
As humans, we all go through the contradictions of life that you channeled into In God’s Image, can you speak on your own battles that helped mold this project? Just being a human being, we were made in God’s image, but we are imperfect. On this tape, I acknowledge that I am not perfect, on this mixtape I speak on wanting do do right, but coming up short. Sometimes, we go against what we know is right just to continue living. This is some of what I speak on, I took my real life experiences and put them onto this tape.
Can you speak on your inspiration from the film, The Devil’s Advocate? Oh yeah. It’s a great movie with Keanu Reeves, but the concept that I got from it was the Keanu scenes where you could see the demon in the scenes. I wanted to expand on that for my tape, not literally seeing demons, but figuratively. Demons can figuratively effect you, too, by impacting the events of your life. But, this is also the human emotions, sometimes you might feel righteous, sometimes you may feel, less than righteous. Humans come with various ranges of emotions and this is how we were made.
When you think back to where you started when you first began rapping to where you’re at now, with all of the media exposure, what do you feel? Sometimes, it’s just surreal. I’m just grateful, I feel good getting the respect. I want people to just listen to me and it is not always easy to get listeners and the respect. So, I appreciate the fact that I am having success. All of it feels great, especially seeing all the websites posting and each opportunity is great, just like this interview. It is crazy to see where we started and to compare it to where we are now.
You definitely bring enough heat on your own, but you teamed up with Tone P for the project, why did you feel the need to bring him in? Tone P, we did a record on Jet Lag, called “Inner City Kid.” It was one of the last songs to make the project and I liked the reaction the song had, the music video did well, the response was great. On this new project, I wanted to expand and we worked more on this project because he brought the sound I was looking for. I like the way he produces records, they go with my style of music.
You appear to be next in Chicago, in terms of rappers with soul and you took a major risk with the In God’s Image title, much like Kanye West did with “Jesus Walks,” were you inspired the least little bit by him to go in this direction? I wouldn’t necessarily say “Jesus Walks” inspired me, but Kanye West did. He is a Chicago legend, because he breaks the rules all the time and he inspires me because he comes from the same place in Chicago that I did, the South side, he is innovative and successful. Not only do I want to have similar success, advancing the culture, I want to push the envelope the same way he does because it is amazing to see how far he has come and I am hoping to have the same type of success, as another kid from Chicago.
Overall, Chicago’s hip hop scene is blowing up and you’re a big reason why, how does it feel to be a part of a winning movement? Oh man, it feels great. It’s cool, I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s pretty dope. Ten years ago, nobody was checking for Chicago hip hop outside of Kanye West, Common, and Twista. Now, there is so much media attention on our music scene and it is amazing to see it and even more amazing to have a part in it, I am trying to advance the culture the best way that I can and I plan to continue putting my area on, because once upon a time, nobody was even listening to us.
Clearly, you are nothing like the Drill rappers from the scene, but would it be out of the question to see you working with some of those guys? I wouldn’t say it is out of the question. We have different styles and hip hop is all about expression and I would definitely work with anyone, as long as we are pushing the same message. Representing the same city, I would love it, but we have to have the same message and the right sound to go along with it.
As we close this mixtape out, can you give us your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Facebook is Jahzel Fans, so people can like this page, it is newer, so we need more likes. Twitter is @JahzelMusic, Instagram is @JahzelMusic. YouTube is Jahzel Music, Instagram Jahzel music. We don’t make it difficult, everything is Jahzel music.