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It's On: An Interview with J. Shiltz

Joel Barnhart
March 22, 2011



Some of you may recall the article two weeks back where I reviewed two tracks by Toronto MC J Shiltz. This week, I was fortunate enough to interview him, albeit by email.

GP:: When did you first start getting into the hip hop scene?

JS: I have been into the hip hop scene since the early 2000's. It started
as just rhyming and battling with other mcees and rappers, and as luck
would have it those ciphers eventually brought me in contact with my
current team of audio engineers and recording technicians. But the way I
really feel, is that my arrival in the hip hop community can be more
marked by the release of my first hit single last summer. At that point I
was no longer just on the scene, but a part of the Toronto hip hop
community.

GP: What was your inspiration for getting into hip hop?

JS: My inspiration for getting into hip hop has a large part to do with
love for the music. Love for hip hop!!! That is it. You know, I am a 23
year old dude who came up during a crazy time for the music and thankfully
I was surrounded by people who put me onto the real, when there was a lot
of faking going on. My inspiration is real music, and my desire is to
make real music, music that reflects me. No faking jacks.

GP: Who are some of your influences?

JS: I am influenced largely by the 90's golden era hip hop. Producers like
DJ Premier, Large Pro and Pete Rock. MC's like Nas, Guru, and Big L.
Groups like ATCQ and The Pharcyde. That was the music that made me fall
in love with hip-hop, but as I've grown as an artist it seems my
influences are closer to home. A lot of the Toronto artists that I am
privileged enough to be working with have a large influence on my music,
dudes like Notlam, Junia T, and Lancecape have all heavily influenced me
and helped me grow as an artist. In fact, The toronto hip hop community as
a whole can be credited with directly influencing my music.

GP: What's your opinion of the Canadian hip hop scene as opposed to
American or mainstream hip hop?

JS: The Canadian hip hop scene and the mainstream commercial hip hop scene
are two different animals. The differences are seemingly infinite but what
first comes to mind is exposure, and for the the Canadian hip hop scene
specifically, lack there of. In the United States, the profitability of
hip hop is acknowledged and the result is a well financed (though in my
opinion an at times overly materialistic) music industry. In Canada the
profitability and market for hip hop is overlooked and the result is great
artists and communities get sh*t on. I love both scenes because they are
intrinsic to hip hop, but I hate the dichotomy in treatment from the music
industry. I won't be overly negative, there have been some recent changes
which are cause for optimism, but we have a long way to go. Those
interested in this issue should go online and check out a letter penned to
NOW Magazine by Addi "Mindbender" Stewart because it very effectively
adresses my sentiments on this issue.

GP: Are there any other artists you'd like to collaborate with?

JS: I won't lie, right now, at 23 years old, I am feeling really good
about the collabos I've got under my belt. Some of them will remain on the
downlo til my album drops later this year and some will be out sooner but
I feel real good about my collabo records. That stated, I am always
willing to jump on some DJ Premier production get my Pete Rock co-sign in.
Lacing a track with Nas wouldn't hurt my cause much either.

GP: Do you have a certain method when you're writing your lyrics?

JS: I have a couple of approaches. Sometimes I will just vibe with a beat
no intentions of turning it to a song and next thing I got a couple hot
verses and a hook. My other approach is a little more time consuming. Over
a period of time I will get a bunch of hot lines phrases similes metaphors
whatever, and when I got a good stash I go in on a beat with a
preconception of the approach. Louder is a track like that, I spent time
crafting the verse. It's On, on the other hand, just a vibe a moment and
bam I had the verse.

GP: I understand you've got a new single out, which I reviewed in a
previous article, do you have any more material that you'll be releasing
soon?

JS: I got a ton of heateration on the way. A TON!!! At least five more
singles and an album by December. I won't give it all away but I will let a couple
secrets out. Joint called "Fell For You" featuring Illa J, Crook, and
Brendan Philip produced by Junia T coming this summer. Got another one
coming with production courtesy of Rich Kidd and another Detroit native on
a verse. A potential sequel to Gimme That Flow might also be in the
works...

GP: Who do you think would win in a fight: Bugs Bunny or Yakko from
Animaniacs?

JS: Yakko. He's got Spielberg behind him.

GP: what kind of goals do you have in regards to your future?

JS: Right now I am trying to further establish myself as a Toronto hip hop
artist. A couple hit singles is just the beginning. A video on Much is
not enough. I need to get the city on my back Ty Harper style. First T
dot, then the world. If everything goes according to plan I will be more
than an underground MC when all is said and done.

GP: So, I'm asking all the same generic questions people get asked in
every interview like this, and I feel that reflects poorly on me as a
writer. So, for a change of pace, we should have a text based rap battle.
Type me up some freestyle, I'll reply to it in the article when I write
it.

JS: Holding your breathe in a cipher with me or get asphixiated
T dot is the city and the west is where I'm situated
let's get obliterated let's get polluted
your dreams are make believe mine are lucid
I find elusive lyrics and finely tune em
while your best work still sounds kinda foolish
my old sh*t now they call it timeless music
shining like Stanley Kubrick
you bout as hot as a can of coolant
and truth be told I can't approve it
rocking Canada gooses but from the f**king states
you into hiphop but last week it was drum and bass
if you a real head it shud be hung in shame
trying to eat I the game get used to hunger pains
every week I hear a hundred names
like so and so is dope and him and him is raw
that's cool but me I'm cut from different cloth


Joel: I'mma fight for the right to write down my words
gonna light up a smoke, tell my views to the world
you think you're hot, you a joke, people haven't you heard
when i'm rockin the mic i stand apart from the herd
when it comes to plannin the game, I'm a f**kin' professional
people learnin' my name, and my lyrics are effable
I even got the congressional
medal of honour, for layin down all these rhymes,
to your sons and your daughters
it's not even a question,
who's rhymes are hotter,
I got producers investing,
my words'll melt you like solder
when i'm done writin this verse maybe you'll see the light
you'll be riding in a hearse by the end of the night
you battle with me, son I'll give you a fright,
I'm a bad motherf**ker bringin' a mic to a gunfight

You can check out more of J Shiltz at his myspace page:
http://www.myspace.com/jshiltz
J Shiltz My Space