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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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July 2010 - January 2013
Artist Of The Week - Solomon Jazz
Monday, August 24, 2009

Solomon Jazz is an emcee who has been making a name for himself since he arrived in NYC in 2006. Originally from the British Virgin Islands, where his musical influences ranged from Peter Tosh to Public Enemy, Solomon Jazz came to the States in 1996 to attend Hampton University in Virginia. Ten years later he found himself in Brooklyn, NY, emceeing, and getting together with his band, The Vibe, which was named after the musical chemistry they found they had. Over the past few years plenty of people have been vibing to the work of Solomon Jazz and this week I caught up with him to find out more about his music, some of the people who showed him the ropes when he first came to NYC, and why he feels everybody getting into Hip-Hop needs a big brother.

Adam Bernard: Start everyone off with some basic info. Imagine whoever is reading this has never heard of Solomon Jazz. How would you describe him?
Solomon Jazz: Solomon Jazz is a Hip-Hop student. Before he would ever call himself a Hip-Hop artist or rapper, he sees himself as a student of the culture. The mission of Solomon Jazz is to add on to the culture and leave it in a place where others can see that Hip-Hop can be used for the good of everyone. I know it sounds corny, but that’s how Solomon Jazz views Hip-Hop.

Adam Bernard: You recently released an album titled I Know Where I Come From. That’s a pretty deep title.
Solomon Jazz: You really think it’s deep? {laughs} The title I Know Where I Come From was chosen to convey two things; one, I know that I am a child of the Caribbean and no matter where I rest in this world I will do my best to represent the Caribbean in my own way, and two, while I am from the Caribbean, in another sense where I come from does not matter. I know that we as a human race all essentially come from the same place in this world, so no matter how different we appear to each other I still see us as being connected and we can get along if we strive to be civilized. When you think about it, I guess the album title is deep. {laughs}

Adam Bernard: I told ya! Now, tell me about the content of I Know Where I Come From.
Solomon Jazz: I strive for people to get a personal and comprehensive view of how I approach life via my music. I talk about how I view myself, my home country, personal relationships, and various social issues. Is this album my autobiography? No, not at all, but I Know Where I Come From is a musical snapshot of how I view the life experiences I’ve had that have involved Hip-Hop playing a major role in shaping my train of thought.

Adam Bernard: Let’s get into the history of Solomon Jazz. Tell me a little bit about the area you grew up in, the British Virgin Islands. Does it differ much from the US Virgin Islands?
Solomon Jazz: I am from an island called Tortola which is Spanish for “Turtle Dove.” Tortola is a popular location for sailing, horse racing, boat racing, getaway vacations and international banking. I think the BVI is very similar to the US Virgin Islands but if an American visits the British Virgin Islands they will notice that we do not have the businesses that are popular in American culture, stores such as Macy’s, McDonalds, Burger King, K-Mart, Wal-Mart and so on. We have our own businesses that provide similar products and services and they are just as good if not better.

Adam Bernard: What kind of influences did you grow up with there?
Solomon Jazz: I am strongly influenced by my parents because they stressed the importance of good manners, respecting yourself and others, avoiding the use of profanity, and getting a good education. That’s why if you listen closely to my album you’ll notice that I keep my cursing to a minimum. I do this because I think it’s important to create music suitable for children and parents.

Adam Bernard: When you first came to NYC, how did you break into the city’s Hip-Hop scene? What were some of the things you did and who were some of the people who were instrumental (pun intended) in showing you the ropes?
Solomon Jazz: Actually, I stumbled upon the Hip-Hop scene a year after I arrived in NYC. I was bored in my apartment on a snowy Sunday night and I decided to take the train to Manhattan. Once I got to the Lower East Side I was walking around checking out the area and I walked past the Pyramid Club. As I walked past it I heard the sound of Hip-Hop music. Needless to say I asked the guy at the door what is going on and he said with confidence, “Hip-Hop open mic.” The rest is history. That’s when I learned about End Of The Weak. The first person who was instrumental in my introduction to the Hip-Hop scene was Likwuid Stylez of Rebel Starr. She taught me a lot of things about the Hip-Hop game, especially about the world of event planning and promotion. She was also the first person to let me host a show (The Hairitage Lounge). I also have to mention that Kalil Kash, Mr. Beatz, M-Tri, and Mark Carranceja (of Noisemaker Media) were all very instrumental in my development as an artist.

Adam Bernard: What moments in your life or career would you say have been the most defining, or altering, for you?
Solomon Jazz: The two biggest moments I can think of were coming to the United States and my father having a massive stroke. I knew that when I came to the United States that I would have a lot of cultural norms to learn, but knowing and experiencing are two entirely different things. Nevertheless I can still see where I have things in common with others, i.e. everybody wants to be successful and have peace of mind. When you look at things that way it is easier to accept people for who they are and act accordingly. When my father had his stroke it obviously affected my train of thought. I have not been able to write and perform like I used to because I am always thinking about my father and the fact that he will never be what he was. My father was a teacher and I am proud to say that I get my ability to speak publicly and host shows from him. I remember watching him host events growing up and when it comes to teaching… my father is one of the best to do it. Frankly, my father is the original Solomon Jazz and I am just striving to carry on the tradition.

Adam Bernard: That’s deep, man. Thank you for sharing that. Ending things on a slightly lighter note, you got into Hip-Hop the old fashioned way, an older sibling handing you a mix-tape. How do you think the next generation is going to get into Hip-Hop?
Solomon Jazz: For the next generation the internet is now their big brother and I have to admit that I am worried about that. When it comes to Hip-Hop music young people today need to learn the history of how it started and should get some guidance on how to listen to Hip-Hop. That is what my brother was for me and I worry that kids today will miss out on that experience.

Related Links

Website: solomonjazz.com
MySpace: myspace.com/solomonjazz
Facebook: facebook.com/solomonjazz
YouTube: youtube.com/solomonjazz

Labels:

posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:14 AM  
1 Comments:
  • At 11:39 PM, Blogger PushRealHipHop said…

    Yeah!!!! Solomon Jazz is one of the nicest guys in hip hop you will ever meet. From reading this article I can see why! I look forward to reading more. Great piece!

     
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