When you listen to rap music these days it’s all too easy to dismiss current hip-hop production as being nothing but trap drums and the oversized bombastic sounds that have become ubiquitous these past few years. Take a closer look. Trends rise and fall, and there’s as much copy-catting and bandwagon jumping in hip-hop as there is anywhere else. But there is always so much happening with the music at any given time with new talent just waiting around the corner. Hailing from San Jose, California, Jerry The Prodigy is an upcoming music producer. Jerry’s production totes an almost heavenly atmosphere, which can be heard in most of his instrumentals and collaborations.
JMag – How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started in the first place?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: I’ve been in the music business for 5 years. I got started in the music business because of my ex-uncle. He was one of those like “conscious/religious rap” type of lyricists, and he was the one who turned me to the idea of producing and just making music in general. One day in August 2011, he bought me a copy of Reason 5 and I started messing around with VSTs and a whole 2 gigs of drum kits he gave to me on a flash drive.
JMag – Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: Some of my very first musical influences were actually from various other genres of music *other* than hip-hop/rap. I remember listening to a lot of Green Day, Nirvana, Lil Suzie, Talking Heads, and a slew of 80’s pop artists. It was a really weird time.
JMag – Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: Some artists I’m currently listening to now are Bladee, Uli-K, Future, Young Thug, 21Savage, Kid Glo, Ana Caprix, Black Kray, Lil Flash, and RahnRahn Splash. I’d absolutely love to collaborate with either Bladee or Uli-K, I just love their auto-tuned sing-rap style and the atmosphere and emotion they bring to their work is just so pleasing to hear.
JMag – So, what are your thoughts on the current state of the hip-hop and rap game?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: I personally think the current state of hip-hop is dynamic in a way, constantly fluctuating and evolving. One good example of this can be found with the different styles of rap you can find in different areas here in the US. For example, in the South you have trap and drill music wherein the West you have hyphy and gangsta rap. Every year there’s going to be a new sound, a new act, and following it, a new crowd of consumers willing to see what content the artist has.
JMag – How do you separate yourself from other artists and producers right now?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: I think I separate myself from other artists by having my own lane in which I’m not bound by anyone or anything, and I can just produce music on my own. However, for producers, it’s a whole different story. Here in the Bay Area, production is just either two things: boom bap, or hyphy. That’s it. Nothing in between, just those two subsets of hip-hop. It’s funny, because those two have been hyper popular, and nobody bats an eye or even thinks to produce even one track which has a completely different feel. But for me? I do just that. I make my own sound. I don’t follow the local trends.
JMag – What do you consider a really successful or high point in your career so far?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: I know this is a cheap answer but I consider collaborating with other artists from my local area to be a consistent high point in my career. Just having two or more artists focusing their creative energy to generate a product which can be enjoyed and listened to by all is really the greatest feeling.
JMag – What does your current software/hardware setup currently consist of?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: First, my instrument setup currently consists of an Akai MPK49 MIDI keyboard, a pair of M-Audio AV40 studio monitors, a Behringer X2442USB Analog Mixer, Audio Technica H-M40FS, and one Blue Yeti microphone. The software I use is FL Studio 12 & Reason 5.
JMag – Which piece of hardware or software would you consider the most essential in your setup, and that you would be a little lost without?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: One piece of hardware I consider the most essential is studio monitors. One piece of hardware I’d be a little lost without is a MIDI keyboard. It’s the bread and butter for playing melodies which pop into my head spontaneously.
JMag – If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: The emotion which drives me the most I’d say is pride. Whenever I produce an instrumental or work with a vocalist friend of mine, I’m usually proud of the end result.
JMag – Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: One aspect of being an indie artist which excites me the most is the opportunity to network with so many talented people. That also ties into the music making process because you can have two completely different artists and if they come together and their chemistry is just-right on a track, you know you have something worth sharing.
JMag – How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team or do you control everything by yourself?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: I self-market and manage my whole music career. It gives me control to make decisions like if I should collab with this artist, when I should release a track, etc. It’s basically like a ‘no-strings-attached’ sorta thing, you can do whatever you want really. It would be cool if I were to have a manager, though.
JMag – If you had the opportunity to change one thing about the music business, what would that be?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: If I had the opportunity to change one thing about the music business, it’d be the venues. I’ve had some not-so-pleasant experiences with pay-to-play venues, they annoy the hell out of me.
JMag – The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: The best piece of advice in the music biz I’ve followed this far is “Never give up”. This phrase I stand by heavily, and at the end of the day, it really does help guide me in the right direction. One piece of advice I didn’t follow was the strive to be original. Right at the beginning of my music career, I was in a frenzy trying to figure out what my sound would encompass. I hastily produced 20 or so tracks of sampling old jazz records and attempting to make a sort of boom-bap trap aesthetic. It didn’t work out.
JMag – Give us your personal shortlist of hip hop’s 3 greatest (and your favorite) producers – living or dead?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: 3 of my personal favorite producers are: J Dilla, Whitearmor, and Sonny Digital.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: In this day and age, not having a social media account as well as an online persona for your music is outrageous. It. Is. Essential.
JMag – If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: “Atmospheric”, “Trill”, “Cloud-Based”
JMag – What is the title of your latest release and where and when can fans find it?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: At the time of writing this, my latest release is called “spring”, and it can be found on my SoundCloud.
JMag – As you work your way through your career, which more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy award, Platinum music sales or some other tangible milestone?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: Something which REALLY fires up my imagination is a Producer Of The Year award from the BET Hip Hop Awards. I’d love to have one of those, or something similar.
JMag – What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
JERRY THE PRODIGY: Selling out. I make music for the sake of having means of expressing myself and just having fun with friends. I’m not in it for the money, as long as there’s music, I’m happy.