Q&A With Rising New Haven, CT Underground Artist Black Jewelz

Much respect for reppin New Haven, CT and holding down the indie/underground music scene out there! Please tell us how you came up with your artist name Black Jewelz. Also, When was the exact day when you decided to be a Hip Hop artist?

My legal name is Julius, people always called me “Jewels” for short, and as a teen IÔÇÖd dress in all black from head-to-toe every day. As stated in my rap ÔÇ£Dedication To E;” ÔÇ£Black JewelzÔǪblack pants, black socks, black shirt and black shoes, black hoodie, black bandana & black ski maskÔǪÔÇØ Also, as a result of listening to a lot of 2Pac, I started looking into and talking about ÔÇ£Black PowerÔÇØ a lot. So one day a friend of mine, who was a class clown kind of character, said to me, ÔÇ£Yo Jewelz, you know what your rap name should be?ÔǪ Black JewelzÔǪÔÇØ We both laughed it off but in the back of my mind I thought it had a ring to it so I stuck with it & it stuck to me. The meaning changed though, to have two main meanings. Black jewelry is a very rare and uncommon thing to see or even discover, so Black Jewelz is a unique & extraordinary thing to find. The plural word ÔÇ£jewelzÔÇØ of the singular object/individual just adds to the paradoxical uniqueness of it. The primary meaning is this: when a diamond is discovered in its true raw form it is covered in coal, so itÔÇÖs a sort of ÔÇ£Black JewelzÔÇØ. So Black Jewelz is a metaphor for a ÔÇ£diamond in the roughÔÇØ.

I don’t remember the exact day when I decided I wanted to rap but it was sometime during ’96/ ’97 when I was just a little kid. Rap is all I’ve wanted to do since then.

We are not to familiar with the New Haven area Hip Hop scene. How do you feel the scene is out there. Is the Downtown area poppin with shows and networking opportunites, or do you feel it need improvement. Also, how has your city embraced your music so far?

There is no scene (lol). There’s really only one place downtownÔÇöToad’s PlaceÔÇöthat hosts pretty serious Hip Hop shows. Even those are usually only reserved for very established rappers. There is a major need for improvement in opportunities available for rappers in New Haven. Especially for dudes (& dude-ettes) who don’t spit about the usual elementary nonsense. There’s a sad twist to this lack of opportunityÔÇöand I can say this honestly… The best rappers I’ve ever personally known, male and female, are from New Haven. The only platform that is often available are open mics, which have dwindled in number and frequency greatly compared to, relatively, recent years. Also, the average open mic is not necessarily going to lead to a stage for you to perform in an actual Hip Hop show. Nevertheless, it is a way to be heard; probably the most viable way in New HavenÔÇöaside from street mixtapes or straight up spittin’ on the block. Not exactly the ideal conditions for a serious aspiring rapper.

I first began to gain notoriety myself from open mics, primarily. Straight a cappellas, I didn’t even have tracks because I had no equipment or studio money. Since I’ve been putting out music in the last few years the embrace has not been very substantial, to be 100. People will peep some videos, maybe listen to a track I post up or something but people aren’t significantly supporting projects or even spreading the word, sharing connections, etc. Some do! But not in numbers that are making a major difference or influencing a shift. I temporarily moved out of the area a couple of years ago to be in an environment where I can focus on doing music full-time. So that might play a part, because people don’t see me as a reminder or somethingÔÇö”out of sight, out of mind” maybe … Who knows? … But that goes back to my point, the rap scene in New Haven is not really serious, as of yet. People tend to not take artists seriously, maybe because no well-known artist has come from New Haven. I got nothing but love though.

Feel free to breakdown the creative process of your new EP “UNRIVALED” set to release on August 12, 2016. Also give us some background on your EP artwork?

Interesting question because this is my first project where I did not produce every (or nearly every) track. So the creative process for all of the songs, except one, was: I chose a few beats from a few producers, listened to them & came up with the concepts based on what I felt the track was built to express. The one track (MASTERPIECE) that had a different creative process was one that was premeditated in my mind. I conveyed the concept, some lyrics of the song, the style, progression and feel of the beat to the producer in order for him to make it. So that was the only one that was framed around a preconceived concept and that I had a slight hand in the production.

The EP artwork was done by me. It’s basically a showdown between me and myself, with I as the sole moderator/judge, ahaha. It’s essentially a visual metaphor stating that I am my only competition or rival; hence the title “Unrivaled.”

Here is a good question!!…LOL. Outside of Hip Hop, are there any artists out there that influenced you to become a musician? Are you a fan of Rock, Jazz, Country, Alternative, R&B etc??

That influenced me to become a musician? No. I was originally inspired and motivated, as a child, strictly by Hip Hop. A sheer fanatic. The ironic thing is that I’m not really a fan of rap these days. At all. If I do happen to listen to rap it’ll probably be some mega old stuff. I listen to new stuff when it drops, just to hear what dudes are saying, but usually don’t listen again after that. I am definitely a fan of other styles of music though. A lot of other styles. That’s actually, basically, all I listen to. Rock, alternative, movie soundtracks, folk music, dope instrumentalists/composers & producers like Bassnectar, Explosions in the Sky, My Brightest Diamond, Clogs, MAD indie stuff, atmospheric tracks, etc. One of my favorite artists ever is Florence & the MachineÔÇöalso Flyleaf.

How many music videos do you guys have under your belt so far, and do you have plans on releasing new videos from your new EP coming out?

I have about seven official music videos right now, including the first from this EP (“Never FM”). I don’t know yet if I’ll be releasing more videos from the EP, but it is likely.

How often do you perform live?

It tends to vary but right now about once or twice a month. I’m definitely always looking to perform more.

Where do you see yourselves in 5yrs time?

In 5 years, I see myself firmly established as a world-renowned emcee. One with enough money to not only survive but thrive while making a significant difference in people’s lives. (No rhyme intended, ha.)

Here it is! Our most popular question! What is your definition of “underground hip hop”?

Underground hip hop has a slightly different meaning to me these days than it used to, because before you were generally underground if you were not on the radio. Now you can not be on the radio & be just as famous & commercial as those who are. So my definition of underground hip hop is this: Hip hop that is made strictly for the love of the art in all authenticity. Not for fame, not for money, not for girls, just for the love of it. It’s like the artist who paints on a canvas everyday she comes home from work, not looking to follow trends or get famous. She just does it for the undying love of the art & the appreciation of others who genuinely love the pure art form.

Where can people find you on the web? Drop all the vital links.

Check me at: Theblackjewelz.com Ôüâ Twitter/IG: @theblackjewelz Ôüâ Youtube.com/theblackjewelz

Lastly, and shout out?

Top shout out to Jeremiah’s Kall Productions! That’s who makes everything I do possible.

Q&A With Rising New Haven, CT Underground Artist Black Jewelz : Underground Hip Hop Blog

Les B. Freeman

Today's Hip Hop is a site that caters to all things hip-hop, style, and pop culture.

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