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Jonwayne is trying not to waste kids brains

We went to see Jonwayne and spoke to him about poetry, Orwell and how music music is about fucking.
May 8, 2014, 11:52am

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The only dude turnt in the club wearing sandals, Jonwayne cuts a unique figure in the music industry. Swapping video hoes for a low-rider tricycle he’s wheeled himself into leftfield hip-hop with a deliberate and exacting approach to rap. With the LA resident touring round Europe, I crammed myself into a room of dudes, ranging from straight-faced music fans to the seriously blunted, for a taste of his cerebral ish.

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Switching between sample-heavy production and material from his Stone’s Throw releases, the Wayniac managed to shoehorn some unlikely bangerz into his set. Before he’d even blessed the mic, JW went about reminding us of why he’s heralded as one of the weightiest beat-makers in California. In twenty minutes, we'd had  warped doo-wop, looped Gregorian chanting and an edit of ‘Those Were The Days’ that popped off harder than a pringles ad.

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Getting round to cuts from Rap Album One, Wayne brandishes a bound volume and asks, “ya’ll forgotten the power of a book?”. I guess with Ace Hood robbing Bugattis, Young Dro fucking that bitch and Yeezus as god, he’s right, introspective literary wordplay isn’t exactly the touchstone of most rappers right now. After the show we kicked it and spoke about poetry, George Orwell and how most music is about fucking.

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Noisey: So are you sticking around for a while?

Yeah I’m going to be staying here, finishing my new record. Staying with the Kimbie boys. London is really different to LA, and I find that inspiring.

Is a collaboration on the cards? You guys show a lot of twitter love.

Ha. I guess. I’m living with them out East and we’re all making music. It’s probably going to happen.

Rapping over a Kimbie production would be dope. Do you enjoy bringing together your productions and rap?

When I first started out I made a point of not ever rapping over my own beats. And then when I signed to Stones Throw I started rapping over my own stuff and my production took a crazy turn and became more hip hop / sample orientated. Now I can produce and accommodate to my own style. It’s good to keep it maintained within the self because It can get difficult relying on other people to make your music.

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You’ve said that anything that can make money in Hip Hop without wasting kids brains is to be applauded. Have you struck a balance?

My intention is to do it in my way without compromising. Because at that point you should just quit and do a 9-5 because what’s the point. So I want to make money and sustain a living with what feels good for me. That’s a longer road to the one I could have taken, which is one I’ve said no to many times. I hope I end up getting there. I get worried sometimes but I honestly haven’t been wrong this far so I’m just going to continue listening to myself, hopefully get where I want to be.

What music is wasting kids brains?

Ha. I’m not going to comment on that.

Ok, what music isn’t?

It’s more of less the individuals rather than a genre itself. I’d say 90% of any music is disingenuous considering peoples intentions behind making music. That’s why it’s frustrating to see people who know what needs to be done and they just don’t have the drive. Having the talent and having the vision is only half of it.

Poetry and Rap are one of the same within your music. Is it important to you that you engage people with that?

I’m a fan (of poetry). I think most people don’t understand the depth and the quality which goes into work that’s being written now. I’m still getting my feet wet in terms of understanding what the scope of the field is. But if I was going to try and get a poetry book in stores most of my competition would be dead people. Which is fucked. I was in the poetry section of Barnes and Nobel, and saw the ‘new and notable’ section, and it was just my shit grandma would put on her fridge as a magnet. It doesn’t make sense to me because people associate with rap so much, but they don’t make the connection to poetry.

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Do you think other artists neglect the connection too?

I wouldn’t say they neglect it, because you have to assess their intentions in the first place. Why are you making music? If it’s for other reasons I wouldn’t say they’re neglecting it because not all of rap is meant to provoke thought. But there is a lot in rap music that’s 1984-ish. Double-plus good. Those kinds of things. One of the restrictions in Orwell’s book is the vocabulary; the dictionary gets shorter and shorter. So I feel like a lot of rap is like that. It’s like, man, use your words. But it’s also a generational thing, our generation use music as a way to let off steam from society expecting so much from them. All these kids are having crazy ass days, being flung shit loads of information all the time. So all you wana do is listen to a fucking Chief Keef song. Because you don’t want to think about shit.

Why do you think rappers fall into the same tropes?

There’s two ways to look at it; one’s lack of creativity, which I kinda agree with, and two is that the human lifestyle is not that complicated. Most music is about fucking.

But you don’t rap about that.

I mean I don’t care about that shit. I’m not interested in materialism.  Look what I’m wearing I don’t care. I don’t know maybe I’m the one whose fucked up.

Nah Sandals are cool

My feet are too big that’s why I can’t wear shoes. My feet are too wide.

Really? What size feet do you have?

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I go to the wide shoe store and they laugh at me. They’re like, get out of here.

How wide are they?

6E…

6E? I don’t know what that means.

Exactly. No one does.

What do you wear in the winter?

There’s pictures of me wearing sandals in the snow.

With socks?

Nope. Because if you get socks wet then it’s even worse.

I bet your mum worries about you.

Oh she does.

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