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If you’ve been around the music scene of the Twin Ports, it’s quite possible that you may have seen a hip-hop show up here at least once or twice. Chances are, a guy name Jesse “Jaze” Unger had something to do with it. If he wasn’t around at one of those hip-hop shows, it’s almost certain that one of the rappers in the latest compilation album featuring Jaze had something to do with it.
This album titled “Jaze Features Vol 2” pretty much covers a huge cross section of what the Twin Ports has to offer in hip-hop and I found some of it to be pretty amazing. I’ve always been a pretty big fan of local rapper Bliss, and tracks like Lazy Afternoon and Going Down are certainly a treat to listen to. The level of collaboration delves even further with “The Devil’s Spit” with Nonfic, Willie Diction, and Trevor Marrin (of local bluegrass band Tin Can Gin). The speed of the raps and the sampled mandolin are unparalleled. For those not in the know, bluegrass bands like Tin Can Gin have offered up their tunes to be cut up and rapped over, and the results are actually pretty cool.
We had a chance to speak with Jaze and this is what he had to say about this “mixtape”:
Reader: So, it’s been pretty much established that you’ve been doing hip-hop in this area for quite awhile, could you break it down the best you can to what you’ve done and what has led to this album?
Jaze: Over the last 15 years I have been doing hip-hop in the Twin Ports, I’ve tried to bridge the gap of all styles in this town. I don’t work solely with a certain style. I have helped a lot of artists get their foot in the door or have offered advice for them to get started.
As for the mixtape, it’s really just a bunch of songs I have been featured on over the past five years. I wanted to get a few projects out of the way since I’ve been sitting on a few for some years. This is the first of many this summer.
Reader: It seems that not a month goes by without you hosting a show, explain a little bit about the networking that happens in getting out of town acts up here as well as new comers.
Jaze: Well, lately I have been concentrating more time on my music than shows. I will throw at least one show a month and try to bring some of the dopest hip-hop with. I have been doing some DJ'ing lately as well as just promoting and hosting events. Homegrown is also right around the corner so my time has been going into that.
Reader: Make it easy on me, are there some acts on this that are from out of town?
Jaze: Yes, there are plenty. The Lost Soul is from Cambridge, MN and Boonhamin is from Colorado. Big Jess, from the Unknown Prophets, is from Minneapolis. Chilwil & Katana Da Don are both from the Twin Cities. A couple songs featuring my homie Kruz, who is from Bridgend in the UK. Then of course Mac Lethal (who might we add, is very well know now) is from Kansas
City, MO. “Rap Song” is featured on Kritical Kontact, “Evolution of Revolution”.
Reader: I take it this wasn’t all recorded in one place. Tell me a little bit about how this collection was put together.
Jaze: Most of them were recorded at random places. EddieDition helped out a lot with me recording the majority of them at his studio with Poetic Chains (his label). There was nothing specific about the songs selected for this mixtape. I found them to be the best songs I was featured on over the past five years. I will put out a 3rd volume in another five years.
Reader: What is your vision as far as hip-hop and music for this area?
Jaze: Hip-Hop/Rap has evolved so much in this town since when I started. My vision is to make it a common thing, to where kids, fans, and musicians can get together at a show and enjoy the music. So many hard workers in the area keep helping make that a dream come true.
Reader: What’s some things you love about creating music?
Jaze: Some things I love is just that raw emotion you get when you write from the heart and when you hear it back and it just hits you. Too many rappers now days don’t write on their feelings, they just write about what’s hot. That's all good and all but, it gets played out quick.
Reader: Anything you hate or that annoys you?
Jaze: Some things that annoy me are things like writers block, I feel the older I get, the more I can't concentrate on writing like I used to. It may be ADHD *laughs* but I think it's my patience. A lot of the music I make doesn't get the respect I feel it deserves, since it ain't to a trap beat or auto-tuned.
Reader: Anything else you’d like to elaborate on?
Jaze: Yeah, this project has been in the works for about a year and half. This mixtape is a Bandcamp exclusive, so the only place you're going to find this is on my bandcamp site at jazehiphop.bandcamp.com. I was going to put it out in the winter, but started working on a few dope tracks with Bliss and Strictly Hammers, so I waited until those songs were good to go. I also have my new EP dropping in a couple weeks on 4/20 if everything goes right. It's called “STFUNLISTEN Vol. 1.” I always hate when people talk over the music when I want
to listen. So my EP is aptly named, “Shut The F*ck Up N Listen.” I have quite a few volumes of that planned featuring exclusive production from Grizzly Beats. The first single, "One More Time,” featuring Nonfic and EddieDition is available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. The newest EP I am working on is titled, "Perfect Story Purgatory,” and that’s in the writing stage right now. More info will be released as it comes along. I am getting back to the on-stage rapping, instead of DJ’ing or promoting from there.