ALL ACCESS BLOG: Who is Jon Savage the person?
JON SAVAGE: I’m 100% Nigerian. My parents came from Africa and settled in Inglewood. They had my older brother. Then they had the three of us; I’m a triplet, it’s me and 2 girls. I lived out in Inglewood until about 5th grade then we moved to Eastvale, California and we’ve been there ever since.
AAB: When did music go from a dream to a reality?
JS: The first time I recorded my first song—in my closet. I was in 6th grade. I wouldn’t say I’ve been rapping for forever but I was always creating jingles, humming. So I figured out the structure of a song at around 11 years old. I wrote a song to Biggie’s “Ten Crack Commandments”, I was 14 — mediocre as f*** but now it’s pretty cool. That’s when I came to the reality “I got this shit”.
AAB: Who is Jon Savage the artist?
JS: I always feel like I’m in my own lane but to put myself in a category, I’m a lyricist. A lot of what I say goes over people’s heads. Pretty much in a nutshell…I know how to ride a beat. It sounds good and ten times out of ten, what you’re hearing is going to mean some shit. You won’t notice it at first because it’s going to be catchy but the third time you listen to it, fourth time, you break it down, you’ll be like “whoa”, he’s really saying something.
AAB: When and where was the first time you performed? Were you nervous?
JS: Nerves were flying. Nerves are always going to fly. You just have to channel your nerves and let that be your movement. My first time performing was at a house party in Pomona. My homeboys threw a party and asked if I wanted to perform and I said yea and just got to it.
AAB: What are some things that you’ve learned being an independent artist in LA?
JS: Realizing that you do not ever have to wait on the next man. What is that man going to do for you that you can’t do for yourself? People get caught up in the money. If you’re chasing the dollar, you’re not going to know what you’re falling into. You just have to hustle. If you’re not writing the song or producing the song, people are going to be pimping you—off your sh**.
AAB: Is your goal to get signed?
JS: I’m going to say yes, but not anytime soon. Always, the goal is to get signed because that’s when you can actually move your music. There’s a limit to how far you can push your music on your own and make it thrive. Once your wave starts and you get signed, it’s the label riding your wave. By the time I graduate, I’ll be looking to get signed. But I’m not even in school yet, so what does that tell you? I’m taking my time.
AAB: What labels are you interested in?
JS: TDE because of Kendrick. That’s my n****. It has to be a West Coast label. I eventually want to be the face of the map.
AAB: Who are your music influences?
JS: Method Man, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul; real lyrical artists, Bun P, Big Pun, even some of the new guys– Kid Cudi. They taught me how deep you can get with your music. I learned how to spot a song by listening to a lot of reggae tracks as well – Peter Taj, Marley. Really understanding what I can do with music – Kendrick Lamar, Ab Soul, they showed me that music isn’t just something you turn on. Music is driven by emotion. Music made me grown up.
AAB: How do you think independent artistry has changed from 10 years ago to now?
JS: It’s actually on now. It’s not just a dream. It’s deepening now.
AAB: How do you feel about artists not writing their own music or using a ghostwriter?
JS: That will never be an option for me. I’m comfortable in my own ability. We can collaborate but I don’t need the help.
AAB: Are you currently working on any new projects?
JS: I might drop a single on Valentine’s Day. As far as projects—I’m working on a project, B.T.Y.F.A. – “Better Than Your Favorite Artist”. My rendition of something like Lil Wayne’s “No Ceilings”; hopping on other people’s beats and doing something crazy with them. You’ll hear Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t”, Drake and Meek Mills’ “Rico”. You won’t feel like you’re listening to the original song. I’m going to ride the beat and do it better than your favorite artist.
AAB: When it comes to the music, do you have friend and family support?
JS: Yea. Hell yea. That’s why I ride the way I do now. My people are going to ride for me, they believe in this sh** too. That’s who I do it for. You just can’t forget your reason. People forget their reason once they get inside (the music industry) because it feels nice. Don’t forget your roots. You have to keep feeding that root so that you can grow more.
AAB: What do you think about rap beefs and how fast they form?
JS: Today, especially today, no one is safe on the internet. Beef isn’t beef anymore. The kids growing up, listening to music, they’re not going to know what beef really is.
AAB: Do you think Kendrick Lamar would be in the position he’s in if Tupac was still here?
JS: Yes. They would just be on together. They would have to make it happen for the West Coast.
AAB: Over the past year, year and a half, given the things that have happened involving record labels (not releasing albums, leaking albums, over pricing, etc), do you think a record deal is worth it?
JS: At the end of the day, it’s about the money for labels. If you’re going to make the money and it’s believable that you’re going to make the money; then you’re going to get the plays and get the help. If not, you’re going to get shelved. People get shelved because it’s about the money. I’d say it’s worth it if you’re on your toes. If you know your grind is that strong to withstand the “take” then it’s worth it. You have to create your own buzz before the record deal though.
AAB: What are some challenges you face being an independent artist?
JS: I’ve learned to drown it out but the fear of “what if you don’t make it”. You’re letting down everyone. You’re building a buzz and everyone is counting on you to make it. But what if you don’t? It’s the fear of letting people down.
AAB: Anyone you want to give a shout out to that’s been rockin’ with you since day one?
JS: Mom and Pops.
***Bonus (After the interview was “officially” over, our conversation continued…)
AAB: What are your thoughts on trusting people?
JS: Its 2016 guys come on. You can’t trust anybody. You have to understand that you don’t need anybody.
AAB: What was the neighborhood like where you grew up?
JS: My folks were like Robocop. Only play in the backyard; the only time we’re going outside is when we’re taking you to school. They were on it and I respect them for it. I couldn’t even tell you the name of my street…
AAB: Do you think you need a manager? Would you want to go that route?
JS: Yea but the thing about managers is, they’re not found; they’re made. Someone from your camp that’s willing to do the work. Managers are supposed to make your life easier.
AAB: Are you treated differently by people that you’ve known or grown up with, now that you rap?
JS: Yea but in a good way. No one’s mad at me for doing music.
AAB: What about girls? Do girls treat you different? Groupie moments?
JS: Yea. [We all laughed]. But I’m at the point where I have to be on my shit. I’m okay with just one p***y. Just give me some loyal p***y, I’ll take that over a bunch of b*****s any day. Groupies are just for show. I don’t dibble and dabble.
AAB: Advice for newcomers?
JS: Develop your sound; find out that you do have something worth going for. Find someone that knows how to run your music sessions—someone that’s in the same lane as you. Have a vision. You can’t just say, “I’m going to rap”, and have that be the end thought.
AAB: In terms of artist development and image, how big of a role do you think that plays in how drawn people are to you?
JS: You have to remember to stay true. Someone following your wave, if 8 years go by, you’re still that same person. You’ve grown but you’re still yourself. You still have to be yourself. You can’t fall into whom or what people see you as. You can’t walk around thinking you’re a God. You have to remember that you’re blessed with the ability to do music but do it with a purpose. When someone looks you up, they shouldn’t see that you’re doing outlandish sh**. No one can truly be mad if you’re being yourself.
Keep up with Jon Savage:
Jon Savage on Soundcloud
Jon Savage on Instagram