JYoung The General- Black History Year: Installment One (Produced by Nick Speed)

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DETROIT –March 8, 2010– Black History Month has ended, but why not have a continuous celebration, even beyond February? A Detroit emcee and Michigan State University journalism graduate, Jahshua “JYoung The General” Smith has spearheaded Black History Year –a series of songs aimed at educating black history in a contemporary, but yet entertaining approach throughout the entire year. JYoung teams up with hip-hop music producer, Nick Speed and clothing line and sponsor, Dangerous Negro Apparel, to promote black history in sets of 365 days instead of 28. Today, JYoung releases the first installment of Black History Year.

“I’ve been studying black history since I was a teenager, and I know firsthand that there’s more than enough information for just 28 days,” said JYoung. “With Black History Year, I want to educate and entertain for twelve months – and hopefully, even more than that.”
JYoung has researched black history since he was a high school student, and he counsels children that have been to jail and prison.

After seeing how well many people of all ages respond to music more readily than they do to books or class lectures, he decided to record music that would educate while entertaining at the same time. He approached fellow Detroiter Nick Speed—platinum-certified producer for G-Unit, Talib Kweli and others—and they recorded songs throughout February.  The result is Black History Year, named after a t-shirt campaign by Florida-based clothing line Dangerous Negro Apparel. The first installation begins with “The Meeting (Malcolm Vs. Martin),” a song with Lansing emcee James “P.H.I.L.T.H.Y.” Gardin simulates a face-to-face conversation between black history’s two most storied leaders over a dusty, percussive soundbed. What follows are songs about Kenneth Clark’s “doll study” that investigated self-hate and promoted desegregation, odes to black comedians and the jazzy speakeasies of the 1920s, and poet Phillis Wheatley. The EP ends with “Haitian Fight Song 2010.” The empowering anthem uses a gripping mix of chants, pianos, guitar plucks and poignant lyrics to tell the story of Haiti’s struggle for independence and continued perseverance through tough times.

Future installments will tackle other historically black issues such as gentrification, the Black Panthers, the AIDS epidemic and more.

Being a fan of JYoung for about a year now, I’ve had the pleasure of attending many performances and hearing tons of dope shit. JYoung not only is a great performer and rapper, but he is also genuine and kind. His great personality is reflected through his entertaining performances.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing JYoung through the internet. If you’re interested in knowing more information about JYoung The General and Black History Year: Installment One, here is the interview:

Q: When did you start rapping/what inspired you to do so?
A: I started rapping in 2005, and it’s really silly telling that story because I got my start posting audios/tracks on a video game message board, in the rap&hip-hop section of the forums. My friend Harris from Jersey was just messing around one day recording something and I decided I was gonna record too. I hit up this cat from NY, Steven “Tempest” Perez and he was giving me tips and how to record and offered to feature me on a track of his since he had a nice buzz on that website. I was down and I recorded my first 16. The verse was wack but it opened a lot of doors to get the gears going and continue doing music. Steve and I stayed close and ended up founding “Stick 2 Tha Script,” a crew of emcees and producers across the country. Most importantly, that track introduced me to my mentor Jamel “Treazy” Vaughn who was (and still is) running his own internet radio show out of Harlem. He critiqued the track and said he saw potential in me. Those two are probably the most responsible for getting me to take rap seriously and move beyond it being a hobby.

Q: What is the difference between the crowds when you perform in East Lansing and Detroit?
A: When I’m on stage it’s all the same, honestly. If I had to state a difference it would be that East Lansing and Lansing are unique because that’s where I’ve put in the most work and it’s like having the home court advantage in sports. I can debut new tracks and experiment more in E.L./Lansing because of the comfort level of having people interested in my music. Everywhere else is show and prove, where I have to win fans on a nightly basis and get them interested in my product. In either case I always aim to give a great show.

Q: Have you traveled outside of Michigan to perform?
A: I’ve performed in Milwaukee, Columbus, and St. Louis within the last year.

Q: Other then your rap career, what else does your daily life consist of?

A: I’m a Residential Counselor for Highfields Inc., a placement for juvenile offenders on probation. I work with teenagers age 12-17 for eight hours a day, preparing them to go back and make positive contributions to their communities.

Q: What is the most unforgettable moment of your rap career?
A: I have to cheat and pick two.

The first one would be a show me and P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. did with One Be Lo of Binary Star where we opened for him, and after we finished he basically told the crowd that he felt we had outperformed him. I’ve always liked Lo’s music and I look up to him as an emcee, so that felt great to get a vote of confidence like that.

Second would be the MichiganHipHop.com launch concert, specifically during Elzhi’s set. A lot of us had already performed since he was more or less headlining with T3 as Slum Village. I was in the crowd because I like to be a fan and a peformer during those type of shows, but I looked up and saw all these influential Michigan Artists — Ro Spit, Illite, Buff 1, Miz Korona, Invincible, and Finale — all watching Elzhi and basically showing love to him as if they were fans too. Why that visual always stands out in my mind is because I realized that there are levels to the game where the people you admire find themselves admiring someone else too, and I hope that one day the next big artist will watch me doing my thing and feel the same way we did that night watching Elzhi burn down the stage.

Q&A’s about the Black History Year: Installment One & Future Projects..

Q: What inspired the Black History Year project and how long have you been working on it?
A: The initial concept for BHY came from a discussion with my good friend James “P.H.I.L.T.H.Y.” Gardin (twitter.com/P2dahi) in January 2009 where we wanted to drop a new track each day of the month and have it be something relevant. Because of his impending departure to South Africa this year, I took on the project as my own and focused on about 14-15 concepts that I really wanted to flesh out. After that we took the best songs and put it on Installment One. There are other songs that we didn’t include that the world will get to hear soon but I’ve heard that the length of the project is one of its strong points so I think dropping short installments periodically is the best way to go.

Q: What is the something you want people to get the most out of Black History Year?
A: I want it to educate without feeling forced. The balance between the tracks having scholastic value and just being great music on their own was very important to me. I think of great themed albums like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and appreciate how regardless of much intellectual density is found in that project, the music itself is incredible. I wanted Black History Year to have the ability to bridge the gap between education and entertainment without feeling gimmicky. I wanted less ABC after-school special and more Nas “If I Ruled The World” where people subconsciously marinate on what’s being said instead of racking their brain trying to digest what I’ve written.

What is your next move (ep, mixtape, album) ?
The next release is the “Jahshua 1:6” EP, which will have songs familliar to people within the state like “Black Nationalists” and “She Likes Me” that I’ve been performing forever. The aim of that EP was to establish my verstality and once again offer a short installment of music that people can get a general feel (no pun intended) of what I’m about and still want more. The release date for that album is April 27th so right now we’re beginning the stages to go right into pushing that release hard.

Q: So when will we be seeing Installment Two of Black History Year?

A: The plan is to drop the second installment October 15th, in commemoration of the date the Black Panthers were founded. The feature track is gonna be dedicated to the Panthers, and trust me when I say that there are some big names lined up for that track. It’s gonna be crazy, and I’m keeping my lips sealed until the time is right.

Q: How will the concepts of the second installment differ from the first?

A: It’ll have more production outside of Speed, although we’re definitely gonna link up and lace a few tracks for it. I want to involve some more of the BLAT! Pack, and I’ll actually have a track with the homie Red Pill and production from Kuroioto featured on the project. Otherwise we’ll be exploring different concepts of the culture and we may make it a short LP as opposed to an EP, so maybe we can have 8-10 tracks as opposed to six. But thats up to le management, I just make the music.

So after reading this interview I hope you feel like you got to know JYoung The General a little better. This is just the beginning (on the blog of course), there will be plenty more of JYoung to come!!

Take the time to listen to Black History Year. It really is dope as hell. The project is available for stream and free download on JYoung’s Bandcamp Page (http://jyoungthegeneral.bandcamp.com). Also, follow JYoung on Twitter (http://twitter.com/JYoungS2TS).

Media Contacts:
William E. Ketchum III- 313-427-9353- WEKetchum@gmail.com twitter.com/WEKetchum
Marcel Friday- 248-508-6156- marcel@whutupdoe.com twitter.com/WHUTUPDOE

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3 Responses to “JYoung The General- Black History Year: Installment One (Produced by Nick Speed)”

  1. Mamamilele Says:

    And the world will know Jahshua. The best of everything my son. Much Love.

  2. Stilly Says:

    super dope interview. tape is bananas too!!!!!

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by JYoungS2TS: Bout to go on air on #CulturalVibe on Impact 88.9FM. Also, yall should check out this interview with @AmyRita23 http://tinyurl.com/nikekid23

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