Interview with J-Bru in Halifax, NS
by Troy Neilson
J-Bru has long been in the wings of budding Eastern Canadian rapping sensation, Classified. But, now, 9 years after he first started rhyming, J-Bru is set to launch to the next level. He's got a video for 'The Fax' about to hit MuchMusic and he's got singles charting in the top 40 in NYC alongside other acts like DMX. Watch for the album to hit stores by June and he'll follow that up on tour with Kardinal Offishall or Choclair. You can check him out at: www.j-bru.com.
Check out J-Bru's video for 'The Fax' here.
Troy: State your name, age, occupation...
J-Bru: The name's J-Bru. I'm 27 years old. I've been rhyming for about 9 years. I started to DJ in '92 and started rhyming in '94.
Troy: When can we expect the revamped 'The Fax' album to drop?
J-Bru: Actually, it's now called 'Underground MC'. It'll be in stores June 23rd but people who want a pre-store copy can come to my CD release party on May 29th in Halifax.
Troy: Alright, cool. For the re-release, are you re-recording anything or just adding new tracks?
J-Bru: I'm adding new tracks and the video for 'The Fax' which is gonna be out on MuchMusic in June. I did a remix (of 'The Fax') with Spesh K and Classified. Then I'm redoing one more song. So other than that, it's mostly just new tracks.
Troy: What can we expect from 'Underground MC'?
J-Bru: On 'Underground MC' I think I stepped out of the "Underground" mold. Some people label underground hip-hop as dudes freestylin all day, battlin and shit. But since I toured with Classified and Spesh K in the US, I see Underground as a whole different thing. Like for me, underground just means that I haven't really broke out on an international level. Once that happens, I don't think my music will change, but if I'm not underground anymore, then I guess my music is unlabelable - if that's a word. (laughing)
Troy: So, tell me about the video for ‘The Fax’.
J-Bru: It’s already shot and is being edited right now.
Troy: Who’d you shoot it with?
J-Bru: Deuce Productions with Scott Doucette.
Troy: Where are they from?
J-Bru: He’s from Halifax. Actually, he owns the chain of stores: Mary Jane’s Smokeshops.
Troy: How did you get hooked up with Deuce Productions to shoot the video?
J-Bru: I met Douce on a college tour we did. I played him a "just done" copy of 'The Fax' and he loved i. He said he could definitely see a video being made between us. I was like cool, let's do it.
Troy: What’s the concept behind the video and the song? ‘The Fax’, does that represent Halifax?
Troy: Or is it a play on words?
J-Bru: Nah, to be honest how it started was, a lot of emcees from Halifax were calling Halifax 'Haltown', 'Hali' and this and that. I just wanted to flip it and see if I could get some guys to see it my way. Basically the song is about the fun in Halifax in a light manner.
Troy: It’s always nice to see artists come with their own originality and not follow the trends. Can we expect that from the rest of the album?
J-Bru: Oh yeah! I've got slow songs. I've got girl-orientated songs. I got hard songs. I'm just diverse.
Troy: Did you have a couple tracks on a Platinum Plus Chapter…
J-Bru: Yeah, the Platinum Plus compilation. That's actually my record label in Dayton, Ohio. Basically, they wanted to showcase all the artists on the label, so I happen to have three tracks on the compilation.
Troy: I’ve seen some reviews, and they liked your stuff a lot more than everybody elses. So, that’s like a boost to your self-confidence. And to have that contact in Ohio…
J-Bru: I've seen some of those reviews too. There are some artists that aren't on my level because I've been doing this for years. Basically, there's myself and a guy named Tezzie who are the headliners of the record label. Then they got some young guys who are just coming up. I kind of expected my shit to be the best on there.
Troy: Yeah, for young cats, there’s definitely a whole learning process they gotta go through.
J-Bru: Yeah, it definitely takes time, but we're starting to see big dividends from it actually.
Troy: So, for Underground MC, when can we expect the finished album to be released?
J-Bru: The finished version. Watch for it at the end of June. June 23rd.
Troy: Do you have distribution for the album yet?
J-Bru: Yeah, through Iron Fist (US label in Ohio) and through NoDistribution in Halifax through Spesh K.
Troy: So you’ll have it hooked up in the states too.
J-Bru: Oh yeah, and there’s actually a group called Movement Records that I’m working with. Actually, I’ve already had two tracks from the old version of The Fax on the top 40 of the Twins radio show in NYC. I was pushing that back in October. I had independent track of the week with ‘The Fax’, then ‘Cocky As Ever’ and ‘Champion’ both made the top 40.
Troy: Who else would have been on the charts, to give some comparison?
J-Bru: Oh, Classified had a song on there. Nelly, DMX… The last time I checked it was #21 and there was a Nelly song at #22, so it’s right up there.
Troy: You’ve been beside Classified for a long time now. In fact, when I think of Classified, I associate J-Bru with Classified. Do you ever feel like you’re still in his shadow?
J-Bru: You know what. I do. I’m his right-hand man. I’m with him thick and thin, and it just so happens that he’s starting to blow up. If I gotta ride the coat-tails for awhile, then it’ll pay off in the end.
Troy: So did Classified do a lot of production on your album?
J-Bru: Out of the 25 songs, he produced probably about 12. I got Trobiz, who did 4 songs. I got Jabba from the UK, Tech Thai from PEI and I produced about 5 myself.
Troy: Is this your first time producing?
J-Bru: For my own album, yeah. I’ve produced for a couple other artists, but never before for myself. I didn’t feel I was on that level yet… but now I’m starting to get there.
Troy: Before I forget, what’s up with the Blazin Js (J-Bru, Jay Bizzy, Ebony and Big J)?
J-Bru: We’re on a hiatus right now. Big J moved away and Jay Bizzy’s in the city, but we just haven’t been able to hook up.
Troy: Do you think that Jay Bizzy got the response to his album (Hard Rhymes in the Maritimes) that he was hoping for?
J-Bru: No. That album was crazy, but when you live in Halifax, you gotta look past Halifax. And not to disrespect him, but he didn't do that. There's too many haters here. But actually, Ebony from Blazin Js is also my brother. We formed a new group called DT, which stand for Double Trouble. Ebony, my brother, is the R&B guy from the Blazin Js. So, we'll probably have our album out in September. That album's gonna be crazy! We've done some shit already and it sounds kinda like Best of Both Worlds (Jay-Z & R. Kelly). I liked that album, but at the same time I didn't. But with us, it's gonna be different, better... On the real though, Jay Bizzy's album was the best album I ever heard from someone doin his first album independantly.
Troy: I always find that some of the best chemistry comes from brothers. For example, Class working with his brother Mic B. I’ve worked with my brother on tracks. It’s just a special chemistry.
J-Bru: Yeah, especially how he's an R&B cat. But he's not your typical R&B cat. He's more of a TQ type, on that thug type shit. Regardless, we mesh well together. We've kinda got the reputation in the city of doing party jams and I'm comfortable with that.
Troy: Yeah, on the whole, it just diversifies yourself as an artist. From being Classified’s right hand man, to putting out your own album that has singles doing well on their own and then you come back with an R&B collaboration.
J-Bru: When that album drops, it's gonna be crazy, headz ain't ready dogg.
Troy: What events/things are in the works for J-Bru? another video? collaborations?
J-Bru: I'm doing crazy shows this summer. I got a DVD being shot right now that will be released with the album; 2 more videos to be shot within the next 3 months; and I'm looking at a colabo with a real big 'old school' MC for the next album. I can't tell ya who though.
Troy: Cool. Anything you’d like to add? Website, email, things like that.
J-Bru: Check out j-bru.com. It’s not up yet, but it should be up real soon. And then there’s jbru.ca as well. DT, Double Trouble. That album’s coming in September. Watch for my solo album, J-Bru 'Underground MC' and the video coming in June. My DVD hits the streets in June too. And check out Classified's new album, the world ain't ready for this shit!
Troy: Thanks for the interview.
J-Bru: No problem, man.
For more information on J-Bru, check out his website at j-bru.com OR jbru.ca.