Photo by the author
For this week’s Mahal, I met up with my favorite music group, Ninjasonik. Over the years, bandmates Jah-Jah and Telli have served as the voice of New York City’s youth, speaking their minds and throwing skateboard parties years before it was cool to throw skateboard parties. Sitting in on the dudes' recording session a few days ago, I asked them about their musical history and lives in New York City. The boys are veterans of the New York party scene, and they showed their knowledge during our interview. I'm super psyched to share our conversation and premiere the boys' new music video, a homage to House of Pain's rap classic “Jump Around.” Check it out.
VICE: How long have you lived in New York?
Jah-Jah: All my life. I was born and raised in the Bronx. I’ve been running these NYC streets, jumpin' around and runnin' a muck, all my life.
Telli: Joining Ninjasonik was the gateway to Neverland. It's been a non-stop culturally merging rager that we have been getting jumping for about seven years now.
What are your favorite things about growing up in the city?
Jah-Jah: Anything goes. The diversity of the city is amazing. Honestly, living here and being a native New Yorker, you don’t really realize it's the best place on Earth till you step out of the unique box we live in. Whenever I go anywhere else in the world, it feels as if we are bringing NYC to them: the culture, intrigue, and awe of the city.
Telli: My relationships are my favorite thing about growing up in NYC, because the city is so overpopulated that you have the opportunity to meet so many different, interesting people.
How did Ninjasonik come about?
Jah-Jah: Ninjasonik began a few years back with myself and our former DJ, DJ Teenwolf. Quickly after releasing “Tight Pants,” we met my current bandmate Telli, who brought the missing link. Telli jumped on board, and from there we became Ninjasonik.
Telli: The stars aligned so perfectly for us. I met Jah on Go Skate Day through a mutual friend and would always see him around. Teenwolf used to hang out in this spot I use to rehearse in with my uncle’s band, which I drummed in. He was always on his computer, so I was like, “What are you doing?” He said he was in this band called Ninjasonik and let me hear the original version of “Tight Pants,” and I lost my shit. It was so dope. I started coming up with the bridge, “Oh you mad cause my shirt fit/oh you mad cause my jeans fit.” He was like, “Yo, that's dope. Come by the crib and record it and meet his bandmate.” So I did, and in walks Jah, and we both was like, “Oh shit!” The rest was history.
What was it like creating your latest recording?
Jah-Jah: It was a homage pretty much. “Jump Around” is a classic song, and we brought our Ninjasonik classic party twist to it.
Telli: We always did covers in our set from Bad Brains' “Attitude” to Fugazi-Waiting Room. I was like Jah, “Let's cover ‘Jump Around,’” so we did it, and it went off crazy! Our DJ, DJ Ak Spiver, was like, “Y'all should just say it over the original lyrics,” and I thought, Word! People don't really do covers anymore. That'll be dope. I brought the idea to Traptain Morgan, and he remade the beat. We shot the video over the course of three Sundays at our Chocolate Sundays party we host with our homey Joel at the Flat, a bar that our homeboy Johnny Siera from the Deathsets owns in Bushwick.
What's your favorite party of all time?
Jah-Jah: Any party I have ever been to at the infamous Chicken Hut.
Telli: My personal favorite would have to be Hoodstock, this party our homey Miguel threw in Oakland. Man, it was a zoo! Some drug dealers rented this lot out to him. People were fucking and making out all over the place. We climbed on the roof of a house and performed from up there. Kids were jumping off the roof into the crowd, destroying these two Cadillacs that were parked in the lot. It was the wildest shit I have ever been apart of. And of course, any Ninjasonik party.
Has anyone actually ever gotten pregnant at one of your parties?
Jah-Jah: Has any one ever made a baby to R. Kelly's music ?
Telli: No comment.
Be sure to hit up the premiere party for “Jump Around” this Sunday night at 11 PM at the Flat!
308 Hooper Street
Brooklyn, New York