When Jamal Stewart, pka J-Stax, was born on Long Island, his father was already a known DJ in New York. DJ Motown still works closely with legendary DJ and Sirius XM personality Superstar Jay, and exposed J-Stax to various soul, funk, and rap artists from an early age. Now, at the still young age of 20, Stax has collaborated with artists and producers that many rappers can only dream of, and his first mixtape, The Cover Story, has over 30,000 views on DatPiff. The first single off his upcoming EP, The Stax Era, is “Man In The Mirror” featuring acclaimed lyricist Fred the Godson. The track has been featured on ThisIs50, VladTV, Frequency, and many other media outlets, and is a testament to the tremendous growth he has experienced in sound and skill. After previewing the EP, I am astonished at the talent Stax has at only 20 years old, and recommend checking out the “Man In The Mirror” video above for a sample of his abilities. Learn more about J-Stax by reading the interview below.
BROWNIE MARIE: What music did you hear from your father and in your household when you were growing up?
J-STAX: It was a mixture. He liked a lot of the old school stuff... he had a lot of Bootsie Collins, a lot of Al Green, the Michael Jackson [albums]... and he listened to a little bit of rap too. He had Biggie, Tupac, Busy Bee, Kool Moe Dee... he liked those guys. He used to play all that when I was a kid.
How old where you when you decided to be a hip-hop artist?
The first time I actually recorded a song I was like five years old. When I was five I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist though, I was just into the music. I just had a love for the music. What ended up happening was I started playing football, and I wanted to go to the NFL. But it didn’t work out how I thought it was going to work out. Then I dropped one song, [“My Cup”], and the feedback I got from the one song was enough for me to want to become an entertainer and stick with that. There was another kid that I went to high school with and he was rapping and everybody knew his name. So I was like “I’m better than this dude. And if I work at my craft, I could make my come up, I could overtake everything.”
How old where you at that time?
Around that time I was like 16, 17. I just decided to run with that, and it’s been working for me ever since. Instead of just doing freestyles and battling I actually started focusing on making songs. When I started making songs that’s when I ran into my manager that I have now, Ari [Admani], and we started taking it to the next level, so I was recording actual records.
Early in your career did you perform in a lot of artist showcases?
I wasn’t really into the showcase thing. I feel like when you do a showcase, it’s you and a bunch of other artists. I’d rather just have my own set and have it just be me. [Also] when you go to a showcase, a lot of times you see a lot of people that are amateurs. I didn’t want to go to a showcase and be an amateur; I want to be professional. My goal was to stay in the studio and work on my craft and get perfect at it. I released a mixtape, [The Cover Story], and it got a little bit of a following online. I just stayed on Twitter, and I was spamming everybody, and I winded up getting 30,000 views on it, which is a good look. That was my first project I ever put out and it was like, amateur. Now with the project that I’m gearing to put out, it’s going to be crazy. People are going to see how I’ve been working.
Tell me more about the new project.
It’s called The Stax Era. It’s just the era of me getting money. It’s my time to shine. I kept the features to a minimum—I wanted people to be drawn to my music not because of who I’m working with, but because of me. I got a feature from Rsonist from The Heatmakerz [for “Misunderstood’], which was a big look because I always grew up listening to Dipset and those beats that they used to make for them. To have him on my first original project was a big deal to me, so I had to put that on there. I have my brother on there, Mel Mazaradi, and I just dropped a track with Fred the Godson [called “Man In The Mirrior”]. [Fred] has a big New York following and his bars are just crazy... his raps are off the chain. The new project is totally different from The Cover Story. You can definitely hear the progression. I sound kind of grown, I really sound grown up now.
Do you have performances coming up and when is The Stax Era dropping?
I have a tour lined up in June.... starting on the Ohio Hip Hop Awards tour, nine cities I believe, in Ohio. So that’s going to be a good look. Stax Era is looking like April-May. We want to have the project out before the tour so that people can just go out and pick it up. That would be perfect.
Check out J-Stax’s single “Man In The Mirror” featuring Fred the Godson in the above video, and follow Stax on his social networks: