One of my favorite albums from 2008 was Shawn Jackson’s “First of All…”. The beats, Shawn Jack on the rhymes, the album as a package was straight up banging. Of course I don’t want my artists to make the same album over and over, that gets boring. But I have to admit I was a bit thrown off at first with Jackson’s newest album on TRES records, “Brand New Old Me”. As the title suggests, there is some new sounds, both in deliveries and on the beats. It takes a bit to get to used to, but Shawn Jackson is the type of artist that captures your attention and you WANT to figure the album out, you want to get to “know” the album. And that’s what I’ve done, I’ve gotten to feel the album, and hopefully in the way Shawn Jackson was intending, so it’s been growing on me.
So bloggerhouse sat down with the former R.I. emcee, now residing in LA and talked about “Brand New Old Me”…….
Bloggerhouse: What’s good man, how about a quick introduction for the Bloggerhouse readers?
BH: You made a move from Rhode Island to LA, was that an artistic move or something deeper than that?
SJ: It was a little bit of both. I lived in RI for 9 + years and being that it had such a small scene (hell it’s the smallest state on the map), it’s very easy to hit a ceiling regardless of what kind of artistry you’re trying to obtain success in. I felt that was the case for me musically. It was the perfect training ground for me though…That scene was just full of hungry cats who were all unique. Biting was a no go and battles were constant so you had to be on point. I was looked at as one of the elite at the time so respect as a emcee was never an issue. As an artist I just felt it was time to take what I’ve learned back to where I’m from, especially since I’m from a much bigger pond with more tangible opportunities. As a man, I just really needed to be back around family and sunshine. I lived somewhere for over 9 years with no family…just friends, peers and associates. When you realize that’s what it is, it can be quite depressing. It was just time to go.
BH: Tres has a pretty good reputation for releasing dope music, how did you hook up them?
SJ: I really linked up with TRES through the homie Newman (the NEW in New Jack Hustle). He was in the group Giant Panda who were signed to TRES and from there it was just a mutual interest. At that point it was just a matter of me getting my shit together to submit to them.
BH: How would you describe the “new” L.A. hip hop scene? How do you feel you fit into it? How is the unity?
SJ: The “New” L.A. hip hop scene…eh, it’s cool. I felt it more in 2008. We have a lot of dope cats out here, but the unity seems to have switched to some high school shit…real clicky. Don’t get me wrong, I see a lot of unification within the scene but for over half of them it’s not genuine. We can’t forget from hip hop to Hollywood, L.A. is full of opportunists. I’m a loner by nature yet I keep it cordial so I don’t have any issues with it. I keep a tight circle of cats who I know I can depend on. As far as how I fit in it, I can’t call it. It was more a focus of mine in ’08 when “First Of All…” dropped. I thought to myself “Damn, Cali got next!!” Then I realized gaps I was trying to help bridge between some of the most popular artists here was just not going to happen. A lot of this seems to be some back in the day shit that cats just can’t get over. I don’t try to fit in, nor am I trying to be King of L.A. I’m just a resident, ya’ll can have the scene.
BH: The new album is called “Brand New Old Me”, which describes the album very well after listening to it. Obviously there was a planned out direction that you wanted to take with it. What exactly makes it different from what you’ve released in the past (particularly “First Of All…”) and how is it still a “Shawn Jackson album”?
SJ: Cause I still do me. No matter what project I do, the production will always vary as well as patterns, delivery and rhyme schemes. It was just important to me not to do another “First Of All…”
SJ: Sonically I wasn’t looking for a particular sound, just something new and something that wasn’t an “obvious Shawn Jackson sound”. The producers really dictated which direction I went with this album. The only thing I had in the pocket going into this album was the title “Brand New Old Me”. That title just signified where I am as a man and as an artist.
BH: Was there any producers are guest appearances that you were shooting for that didn’t materialize?
SJ: I was really trying to get Big Daddy Kane on this one track I had in mind. I wanted to call it “Kane Fan” and flip the Big L sample to it since Kane was my fav coming up. It was going to represent times changing within the culture similar to how Kane’s status changed throughout his career. Close, but didn’t happen. As far as producers, just Jack Sample (who produced Feelin’ Jack from “First Of All…”)
BH: How do you think your past audience will react to the “newish” sound? Was there any fear in switching things up from what you’ve done in the past?
SJ: I honestly think my fans will think this is a better album. I’m also sure that some will be disappointed that I don’t have another Soopafly or Feelin’ Jack on the album. At the end of the day though, my fan base should recognize that I didn’t abandon my style. No fear, I feel like I didn’t jump out the window with the music…it’s just an alteration from what they’re used to hearing from me.
BH: Do you have any of the new tracks that stand out more for you than any others? Any favorites? Any stories behind tracks that people need to know?
SJ: My fav’s are always the sleepers on my albums. I guess I’m still caught up in the days where people would actually listen and dissect a song and if they didn’t comprehend something they would get to the bottom of it and find out what it actually meant. I used to always have to do that shit with Wu tracks back in the day. “Victory Lap” , “Good Riddance” and “Make It Reign” are my fav’s right now. I don’t think people got what “Starget Practice” was about. It was talking about shooting for the stars, but with constant disappointments in trying to do that you develop a “fuck it” mentality so I’m actually shooting for the stars on some vigilante type thinking.
BH: This is more or less my own curiosity, but “Good Riddance” sounds like something that would have been found on the last album. How old is that song?
SJ: Nah, that’s actually one of the last songs created for the album. I wanted that sound to wrap it up to expound on the Old Me section of the album. From tracks 1-7 that represents the Brand New sound track 8 was the transition(which is why it’s titled “Change”) and tracks 9-16 was written from more of an introspective standpoint to give you the Old Me way of thinking as well as back story on Shawn Jackson.
BH: What’s coming up next for “Brand New Old Me” as far as singles and videos? What do you hope to accomplish with the album when it’s made it’s run?
SJ: We’ve got a few options for the next single although I think we got it figured it out. Won’t say yet since it’s not definite. I just want the album to be heard and respected as a quality project…I’m a simple man.
BH: Any last word for the readers?
SJ: Support the artists you love….Don’t get mad when you see them working at Auto Zone or some shit cause you got spoiled with torrents. “Brand New Old Me” is out now!! Cop That