featured interview

Jerneye A man and a vision With the release of his sophomore album 'Vision', Bay Area rapper Jern Eye aims to pursue cohesiveness. No separate unassociated tracks, different concepts, and an amalgam of non-related themes but an album made from a point-of-view. With three years in between this and his previous album, Jern has developed a sharper eye on things and shares his savoir fares with the listener.


How would you describe your new album in five key words?

Personal, spirited, determined, love, hate.

On which issues did you want to specifically share your vision?

I think having a point-of-view was key to titling the album 'Vision'. I had a lot of fun working on my last record 'Authentic Vintage', but on the flip side experienced some personal changes since then that resulted in the intensity of making this new one. I feel like sometimes we create a facade to hide what happens internally. With 'Vision' I wanted both the joy and the pain present.

On this album, you've worked with people who represent the West Coast, but who are from different areas of the Left Coast. How does that reflect in the music do you think?

Whether it's SD, LA, or The Bay Area, all of these places have had great impact on my life in so many ways. I think the diversity in styles, and sound has always been what made the West Coast so special. I was bred in LA, but found growth in The Bay so I feel fortunate to have been inspired by the both places. In a sense of a diamond, LA helped pressurize the stone, and The Bay helped me reveal it.

There have been/will be a few most anticipating albums on the MYX Music label this year. How much of an influence will the release of those other albums (Keelay & Zaire, D.Black, the anticipating release of Supastition, One Be Lo and Buff1 & DJ Rhettmatic, etc.) have on your release you think?

I think every artist on the roster has something real to share. It's great to see some dope understated individuals with an opportunity to shine. I feel like if any of us succeed, it'll help with the success of the next man. I see us as different components in the same machine. We all just have to be the best in what each man does, and continue to challenge ourselves to be better.


'Get Down'; which things make you feel 'hip-hop'?

Beats, records, headphones, cassettes, sneakers, cyphers, grabbing my nuts.

'Vision' is the last track of the album, symbolically?

Unintentionally, but I suppose it is symbolic in a sense of culminating the album. It kind of just placed itself last, vibe wise.

What's your vision on a 'classic hip-hop sound'?

Eric B. & Rakim. Not giving a fuck. Tuning out what's hot and what's not, and just going for yours.

What's your vision on the Bay Area scene today and in the future?

I think Bay Area artists are both sophisticated, and unrefined. I can see a renaissance happening, we just need to get off the Hollywood shit and take it by the throat.

You lived in LA, you lived in San Fran, now you live in Oakland back again, in what way does this place influence you more than any other place?

Oakland has been such an inspiration. The community, the honesty, the soul, and the history.

How come? What are the differences between those places?

San Francisco is a beautiful city, but it's a small city so the scene becomes a little too limited at times. LA is my heart; my childhood was spent there so there was a lot of discovery. I just prefer Oakland because it suits my personality and it's taken me in as one of its own.

So you've been influenced by the Hiero sound a lot?

I think I'm more inspired by N.W.A. than anything else. Although, Hiero is so unique and classic that you can't be an emcee and not be inspired by them. The Pharcyde also played a huge role in how I see showmanship. Those guys have so much energy on stage, you can't help but to feel them.


Tell us about how your crew Project Heights came together?

I met Karim through some mutual friends of ours, DJ Vinroc and DJ Icewater, who suggested to both us that we should meet because they knew we would click. It turns out they were right. After finally meeting, we eventually became good friends and started recording music together. The chemistry was tight, so it was only matter of a few songs that we decided to start a group together.

So you're still in two crews now? Or has Lunar Heights, your earlier crew, dissolved in Project Heights?

No, we started off as emcees in two different groups. Karim is from Boom Bap Project, and I from Lunar Heights. Hence the name Project Heights. The union is just Karim and I branching out from our respective groups to create a new one, but all groups are still intact. This is just the latest venture.

Did you consider yourself a well-rounded artist as a crew member or do you feel like you grew the moment you became a solo artist?

It's two different things. I like to bounce off of my team when I do crew material, and play my part when writing a song. The energy is real dynamic in a group, and the key ingredient is chemistry. With my solo work, I pretty much just zone out into my own world. I really enjoy both, it's just a matter of where you are and where the other individuals are that determine the work.


High-energy flows are a trademark of yours, what are some of the most legendary rap shows you saw yourself?

Busta Rhymes at the El Hacienda LA in 96', Wu Tang at the S.I.R. LA in 94', The Roots at The Filmore SF in 04', and The Beastie Boys at the Grand Olympic LA in 89'. Whew! Those shows were definitely monumental.

What's your favorite brand of wine?

I like Merlot. Nothing specific.

So how much of an influence does a Merlot have on your writing?

Damn. I must drink it often. I guess a bit. I'm drinking a tall can of Tecate at the moment. I left my wine opener at the studio a couple weeks ago.

What's the first rap album you had?

Well, the first rap album I owned on wax was 'N.W.A. and The Posse', and my first CD was De La Soul's 'Three Feet High And Rising'. My ex-girlfriend took my De La CD, but I still have my N.W.A. record.

What are some of the latest albums you have uploaded unto your iPod?

I just uploaded 'Blue Print 3', 'Cuban Linx 2', Slaughterhouse, and the new Ghostdini. All of 'em are pretty impeccable. Hip-hop is good. I can't complain.

If you'd to be become a full-time rapper, would you miss your day job?

Well, I look at myself as a full-time rapper. I just don't do enough dates to make full-time rapper-money, hence having an actual job. Would I miss it, maybe? I like having things in my life that take me away from just being a rapper. Eventually I would like to start an independent marketing firm and help small companies with their branding.

So what other plans do you have next?

I have several show dates coming up around the release of my album. Traveling is by far my favorite aspect of being an artist. I think visiting different cities, or towns is rewarding. I've made some friends around the country over the years, and I just wanna continue making new ones.


Big shout out to my squad Karim, Keelay, Khai, Spear, Nick Andre, DJ Icewater, TRUE, and all the folks who continue to lend their friendship. Sharing laughs with these people really make this whole process fun.

Thanks for the interview!


POSTED 09|01|2009
conducted by cpf

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