Rapper and Maywood Native J-Heavy spent a long time putting his first EP, Focus, together. After periods of doubt and fear, the emcee says it’s high time he released it. I had lunch with the 24-year-old last weekend to discuss what took him so long. But, I wasn’t prepared to learn how much went into it’s creation.
“I’m not finna be out here telling yall i got on Balmain jeans. I don’t have those. I got a nice pair of Selvedge. That’s a really good denim.”
When I learn how long it took J-Heavy to make Focus, I was perplexed at how someone could take four years to make a project and have the audacity to name it ‘focus.’ The word itself refers to the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition. However, this debut EP is a true testament to the music industry and the tremendous amount effort it takes to create a good body of music.
Not just that, though--good music everyone likes. In Heavy’s case, it took him a long time to find its sound; four years too long, as a matter of fact. “I feel like I could’ve released it awhile back, but I don’t think it was ready,” said Heavy. “I was worried because I was like ‘Damn! I don’t want to release some music and be like every other artist.’”
Let’s be clear, though. J-Heavy isn’t your ordinary rapper--he’s not flexxin’ for shits and giggles. If he was, could he have recruited Grammy-Award-Winning engineer James Auwarter to master his EP? “I’m not finna be out here telling yall i got on Balmain jeans,” Heavy declared. “I don’t have those. I got a nice pair of Selvedge. That’s a really good denim,” he continued.
On a serious note, he just might--Heavy was Auwarter’s student for a few months while attending the School of Audio Engineering (SAE). “I learned so much at SAE while I was there,” he said, crediting much of his talent to his time there.
Still, the real world isn’t like a classroom, and, contrary to popular belief, artists don’t work for grades. With that in mind, Heavy hopes Focus is enjoyable as well as enlightening. “I feel like it’s all about building up the past and present of my repertoire of what I can do, of what I wanna do, and what I’m going to be able to do,” said Heavy. “...I don’t want to stop at just being a rapper…” he continued. You can’t just be good at one thing.”
In fact, Focus was mostly produced and written entirely by him. He also released three of his singles on his own--Something, Long Nights, and Bitter--all of which were adorned by his fans. In terms of new music, you can expect Focus to feature similar singles, including a playful tune called Birdcage where the rapper tackles the fickle women of girlfriends past.
The first verse is a retelling of old flings--women who he says weren’t committed to him or the idea of a relationship with him. The second is a revenge of the nerds-esque battle cry, declaring his commitment to himself above everyone else, including women. Heavy, who wrote the song during an early morning work shift--he’s a juicer at Jewell-Osco by day--explained the method behind Birdcage’s madness.
“I can’t worry about [women] not wanting me if I’m not even where I want to be in life right now,” he said. “If you can’t give me your time, I can’t give you my time,” he ended.
And give him your time you must. If not for me then for yourself. Besides, how many times have we thirsted for originality only to revert back to 21 Savage when we cut on our Apple Music? Nothing against 21 Savage and other artists like him, (I’m actually kind of bitter about missing his show at Reggie’s last night. But we have to begin putting our money, and ears, where our mouths are and shine on the originators we keep begging for. Why not get focused on J-Heavy?
Follow J-Heavy on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to be the first to hear his debut EP, Focus, when it drops October 14, 2016.