Photos by Alexander Mayo
Clarence Fruster has been a pivotal part of New York City’s music scene for years. As Jah C he spent his early years making noise with the NYC collective New Rap Order. When he ran out of venues that would let him and his fellow MC’s perform (keep in mind even in 2013 some venues flinch at the word ‘rap’) he began to throw shows himself. He booked performers at the legendary Brooklyn venue Southpaw at a time when touring acts still saw that borough as ‘uncool’.
He has given artists from a wide variety of genres a chance to break into New York’s tough music market including a young rapper visiting from California called Kendrick Lamar. Basically, if you were a working musician in NYC there was a good chance that you crossed paths with him (and were better for it). And he did all of this while honing his own talents and work as Jah C the MC/Producer. His latest, The Fall, is a transitional EP which finds him in a contemplative mood looking back at his past and preparing for the future. In her always great feature, Getting to Know… Keya Maeesha gave a great overview on what makes Jah C unique, here we will tackle more of the music side of Mr. Fruster.
CS: You have done so many things musically from exploring different sounds to having a live band. How do you keep it fresh at this point in your career when you’ve already seen and done so much? Is it easy?
Jah C: It’s really not easy because you are dealing with a lot of different people and a lot of different variables (as an artist). But all of that comes out from my taste in music. It’s like it comes in, and it comes out that way. Ever since I was kid, it’s just music has been in my veins. Any music; old music, weirdly eclectic. I look back on my taste as a child and I wonder “Wow, how was I even that open”. My parents parented those seeds growing up; even though they were mostly soul and African stuff. I just gravitate to all different kinds of music and I just look at them all as just music; none is better than any other. I am just always seeking out new music even if its stuff that I am not into. Ill listen to it, give it thought, and find what I can take from it.
You’ve been making music for some time now as a producer and an MC. You’ve seen the rise of the bedroom producer and have probably heard more then a few songs that while they are good, it seems a few acts just kind of record it and put it out; no mastering etc.
I am not into that. My stuff isn’t high-fi by any stretch of the imagination, especially with today’s dynamics. Some of this stuff, the beats are so simple they can get away with it because you’ve never heard a drum that big that can fit and not be clipping. I don’t think some people realize how amazing some of the dynamics are in this trap stuff as weak as the content is dynamically it blows all music out of the water.
I agree. I think you really notice it when you dabble around with beatmaking how it’s not just laying down a drum beat but how those drums actually sound.
I was listening to Yeezus and before I could get into the substance of it I had to process how this could even exist dynamically. The synthesizers are so loud and roaring but clean and I am hearing every pronounced word out of his mouth, I’m hearing his breathing. We take it for granted because we are so inundated with all this music, but the quality of this stuff is pretty amazing. Like listen to the quality of Yeezus. The content will always be subjective, but objectively speaking, the quality of the record? That will be the best sounding record of the year.
So, lets get to The Fall. How would you describe your new EP?
The Fall is a bunch of overarching themes and the one consistent one is heartbreak. Each of themes speaks to a different one that I experienced in my life which lead me to where I am now. I want to let go of that Jah C thing, I grew up with it since high school as a rapper producer and it transitioned with me as I became more of booker, promoter, and marketer. I want to move on to another level in my own existence as a man and let that go. You fall to rise renewed and I have been through a lot over the last few years and I am trying to chronicle it succinctly and just giving an artistic snapshot of that. And it’s like a lot of my music; especially the last couple of projects as far as conception are concerned I am thinking of time capsules. Im thinking I want to capture these moments and make it genuine so I can listen to it when I am 40 or 50 years old and if I ever have children play it for them to show them this is how it was. It is not an effort to blow up or be big this is an art; me expressing myself in art for. And I am kind of excited for it to be autobiographical for me when I look back on my last few projects. It’s a continuation of that.
This project finds you at a crossroads where you are moving onto a whole new phase of your career. Now that you are at the end of this stage, do you see yourself missing it in the future?
I miss it right now. And it’s all positive. You know. This whole thing is positive. I learned my lessons. I am stronger. I am better. I wish some things had gone down differently. I am not one of those people that don’t have regrets. I learned from my mistakes, I acknowledge them and I wear them with pride.
Download Jah C’s latest EP, The Fall