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Jawn P Peace of mind They can easily be mentioned pioneers of the Boston rap scene. With their gold single ‘Peace Of Mind’, especially going gold on Ebay, and a feature on ‘The Posse’ Soundtrack, DJ Gemini, Force and Jawn P were hip-hop’s next best thing in the early 90’s. Then, after their supposed album left unreleased, the group split up and, except a blog-mentioning here and there, it remained quiet, anxiously quiet. Untill Jawn P met Esoteric and everything went very quick. Now, anno 2008, Top Choice Clique returns with its anthology September 23. Jawn P explains…

Let us start from the beginning, when, how and why did you decide to rap?

It's hard to identify the exact reason I started rhyming. I remember one day, Freshman year of High School, I walked into the bathroom during lunch and stumbled across two kids battling (both had their own human beat boxes). I couldn't believe the respect they were getting, that was my first initial attraction to the game. That same year, RSO CREW came to Malden and tore it down (it was a Halloween show), I wanted people to respect/fear me the same way I did RSO.

How was the TCC formed?

TCC was originally supposed to be a super group modelled after the Juice Crew, eventually the line-up whittled down to the three of us (Force, Gemini and myself), it was like a battle of attrition.

You got signed with A&M Records, what did you release for the label?

We we're on the ‘Posse’ movie soundtrack with a song called ‘I Think To Myself’, we also released ‘Push It Past Red’ and ‘Killing Me Softly’ with A&M.

So the album you were supposed to release on A&M, is it the exact same album as you are bringing out now with Brick Records?

Not exactly the same but close. This collection is much more intensive than the original record would have been. It's a double disc set, the first disc is mostly the studio recorded material, and the second one is rare demos and radio appearances. Brick is the shit for releasing this.

Because?

We met the Brick Records peeps through Esoteric, we actually came to an agreement to put this record together while attending Eso's wedding. We have a great relationship with them, it’s almost as if we should have been on this label from the beginning, we would probably be still together and working on our 10th record, but we don't regret the A&M experience. It was dope to have an unlimited budget (tour, studio, promo).

What were the motivations to re-release the album?

Well, technically it is not a re-release because A&M gave up on the project and dropped us from the label before the record could see the light of day. This Brick release is not necessarily the exact record we envisioned being released on A&M, in fact some of the song's that appear on the ‘Anthology’ are the ones that A&M hated. As far as motivations for releasing the record it’s to finally gain some closure and also shed that ‘random rap’ stigma. The release of this album will finally solidify our spot in Boston Hip Hop History.

So like you told earlier, the second CD is a compil of earlier unreleased tracks, who decided to put out which song?

The second CD is the brainchild of Karma at Brick. When we delivered the studio record he asked me if we had any demo's of the material, thank God Forcefeeld did a good job of archiving all of those recordings. As far as picking the songs it was a collaboration between us (TCC) and the label as to which songs made the final cut, Will C at Brick did a great job restoring and mastering the songs, it's hard to believe it's all 4-track cassette!

TCC is without a doubt one of the pioneers out of Boston if not thé, do you feel like today's Boston rap scene considers you to be pioneers?

First of all thank you for referring to us as one of Boston's pioneers, we have been getting that kind of respect since resurfacing, it feels good to know all of those years on the grind wasn't for nothing. As far as getting the respect like we should? In all honesty, I think when we signed with A&M in ‘93 we earned respect on the national level, but in a funny way we lost a little respect in Boston's eyes. It was almost like people started hatin’ on us because we left the nest. All along our main motivation was to always help represent Boston all day everyday. Since we have made our return, we have been receiving nothing but respect and love from both local and international media, the response to our return has been incredible.

How do you recall the Boston rap scene at the time?

It was mos’ def a special time to be a part of the scene in the early 90's, we always looked up to crews like RSO and Gang Starr, so when we released ‘Peace Of Mind’ and started getting mentioned in the same sentence with them, it was quite an honour. TDS MOB was always my personal favourite, I always thought Kool G (Kool Gzus) was, and is one of the dopest MC's in Boston Hip Hop History. Edo G and da Bulldogs took shit to the next level with ‘I Got To Have It’.

What do you think of the Boston rap scene right now?

Oversaturated, overpopulated, quantity over quality, back in the day you had to grind hard before you could get put on, now it's about Myspace or paying a promotor to get you on a show, which is one of he most ludicrous things I have ever heard of. There are certainly some folks in the Bean that are bastardizing the artform, but Brick keeps it real of course, and now they have added the Clique to their roster, a move that will solidify both of our legacies

Were you aware of Force The Sorcerer's release 'Noble Knight' 12" in 1998 on Naked Ear Records?

Of course man! I thought it was a dope concept that needed some time to fully develop, but I liked the direction Force was going with it, I would have liked to have heard a full records worth of material. I think it's a dope part of his discography.

What have the other members of TCC been up to?

Force graduated from Boston University with a degree in film production and is continuing to produce and record. Gemini is retired from the music business and has been working at ESPN for the past 10 years, I think he is into editing, he's doing very well. I am Head Men's Basketball Coach at Wheelock College here in Boston, I have also been busy raising my two boys Gino (2) and Marino (7).

What role did The Source play in the success of TCC?

The Source showed us mad love in the early days but that love kind of faded once Dave Mayes got affiliated with RSO Crew, I will always be appreciative of the respect they gave ‘Peace Of Mind’, it helped us get take seriously on a national level.

So what happens after the release of TCC's album? Maybe solo?

Well to be honest with you, as of right now there are no plans, I have never really enjoyed the aspect of being solo. I don't mind recording as a solo artist because of the freedom and the ability to make moves without having to confer with a group or what have you, but the live shit is a different animal, unless you Rakim being out there solo is a tough sell. Force and I have been flirting with the idea of attempting to record some new Top Choice Clique material; we might go back into the lab this winter.

To what extent is Esoteric responsible for the resurrection of Jawn P and the Top Choice Clique?

Esoteric played a very large part in our resurrection! I'm not sure how we came in contact, I believe it was through Myspace. I think he reached out to see if TCC would re-unite and appear at the release party for ‘A New Dope’ (7L & Esoteric’s latest album, ed.) and rock ‘Peace Of Mind’. That is initially how the ball got rolling. After that show we realized that there was an appreciation for our music that we were unaware of. The weeks following the show, Eso hooked me up with some beats and I just took it from there, we did some recordings that went very well, which led to some live performances, part of my set included a TCC medley, Force would show up and come on stage and tear it down as if it were ‘93 again. It worked out well, we used my solo shit to springboard into this TCC re-union.

There were plans of making a solo album 'The Art Of War'…

I'm too busy for any more solo shit. I have done some new material with Esoteric, one track is supposed to be for a movie soundtrack ‘Scalpers’, he produced it, shit is fire! I also did a track with Mr Jason (Porn Theatre Ushers, ed.) with 26 other MC's, we all rep a letter of the alphabet.

What have you been up to between the TCC-split up and when you met Eso?

I did some solo material that was picked up by Sony as part of a developmental deal, when that fell through I decided to take a break from the grind, I got married and started a family, also got into coaching Men's Basketball which was a very easy transition from hip-hop. I really had no desire to ever enter back into this arena until Esoteric approached us to do that guest appearance.

How did it feel like to start with rap again, to bring out all the lyrics again?

It's funny, it was very easy to step back into the game and feel very comfortable again, which leads me to believe that I never left it to begin with. No matter what my job title say's I guess I'm b-boy for life! (laughs) In all seriousness, it's been great to re-surface after such a long hiatus and be a part of the scene we helped create.

How did your family react when you decided to perform again?

My family is very excited about the return of the Clique. We had our record release party last week, I think my wife and sister were more amped for it than I was! My son Marino is talking shit about how he wants to battle me, he's his father’s son! (laughs)

The crowd responded quite enthusiastic towards you guys, right? Did you expect that and if not, why would you think the image and legacy of TCC was dead and burried?

When you work as hard as we did to get to the level we got to, and then get dropped off the label without ever releasing a full record that was devastating to us, we had negative memories about our experience and felt our fans did as well. We thought the perception was one of failure, the response we have been getting since returning has helped us reverse our perception a bit.

What are some of the most significant changes in rap music compared to the beginning of your rap career?

The most significant change in rap music that I have seen is its acceptance into mainstream, unfortunately for real rap music fans this is not a good thing. I also believe the East Coast needs someone to step into the game and rep hard, the Golden Age was the best era in rap period, that's why I think any ‘real’ rap fan will enjoy the TCC release.

The 'Peace Of Mind' 12" vinyl has always been a hard one to find...do you search the eBay for it now and then?

I look on Ebay to make sure none of my friends are selling it! I actually caught one of my homeboy's selling a signed copy for $500, when I confronted him he told me he needed it for rent, I can't hate on that.

Would you recognize the difference between a real copy and a bootleg?

Yes immediately, that’s like asking if I would recognize one of my son's from a wax sculpture.

What's the first rap record you bought?

‘Rappers Delight’.

What was the last record(s) you uploaded unto your iPod?

‘Esoteric vs Japan’…’Building With Bricks III’.

Shout-outs?

Brick Records, Force, Gemini, Karma, Will C and 7L & Esoteric.

What's next for Jawn P?

Lunch!

Smakelijk!

 

POSTED 09|01|2008
conducted by cpf

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