The expeditiously growing respect and acclaim for skill-laden, hip – hop artist JSWISS is very clear, well – earned and certainly deserved. The NY native whose work has previously been featured here on I SPY SOUL, has gone about building his rep the old fashioned way, through steady grinding and his undying desire to hone his craft. He’s a young artist from an old school that teaches those practices will earn him a seat at the table with the very best and keep him around for more than a minute. His efforts are paying dues putting him on notable stages with elite musicians like Maurice Brown, Daru Jones and Marcus Machado and opening for legends like the God emcee Rakim or renowned hip duo EPMD. It’s also encouraging packed out shows and cranking the buzz about his talent louder and louder.
His sound ability and charisma is also showing through on his acclaimed releases that simultaneously get folks moving and thinking. It is the signature that is perhaps most intriguing about JSWISS and aligns him with the rap games most revered. He is a storyteller and life observer bringing you good times and motivation — like his anthemic, Dedicate Love Somethin’ whose visual complement was chosen for the 2018 Hip Hop Film Festival— but also other things you should hear, be reminded of, and not just know about, but should want to do something about.
With his powerful new release, FAMOUS, JSWISS is focused for sure on those last objectives as he shines the light on the grave injustice and hot-bed issue of african-americans, many young, killed at the hands of law enforcement.
Famous is a riveting, first recorded collaboration between JSWISS and stellar guitarist and producer Marcus Machado ( under the producer pseudonym M.Drix). Machado, also a past featured artist here on I SPY SOUL, along with JSWISS represent two ingredients in a bubbling renaissance of a diverse music scene coming out of New York City.
The talented emcee’s approach to this issue is incredibly astute, drawing on the social media ruled times we now live in where folks will seemingly do anything for their 15 minutes in the spotlight. So a hip-hop artist on the come up proclaiming “I don’t wanna be famous” from the opening line is not only ironic, but could seem a bit disingenuous. But JSWISS’ declaration doesn’t come from one denouncing fame from accomplishment, but that as a young black man and in recognition of countless people of color like him who have unwillingly become trending topics as victims of police brutality and a oft-corrupt system. The concept is a new take on a long existing offense made painfully transparent in recent years as more cell phones and body cams bring the truth to light.
Artists chiming in on injustice either through their work or in statements is not new. With now Twitter and Facebook just a swipe away for most doing so is not only expected, but silence is often perceived as an insensibility to important topics. As a person who doesn’t waste words on public platforms JSWISS kept comments on the low until he felt he could contribute something new and of value to the conversation.
“What finally struck me was the laundry list of victims names — from adults with futures still ahead of them to kids who hadn’t even fully developed an identity — known by millions throughout the United States and internationally, not for what they’ve done with their lives, but for what was done to them,” says JSWISS. A broadcast journalism grad from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, with writing credits in papers including the New York Times, his instincts to look at a story from different angles no doubt fueled his approach to crafting, “Famous”.
Bert Caldwell Photos:Robert Adam Mayer
For more on JSWISS go to Jswissmusic.com