Get To Know mynameisntjmack [Interview]

Marissa Duldulao
Alf Bordallo

Today, it's rare to find hip-hop artists quite like mynameisntjmack. Hailing from Virginia but now based in Los Angeles, this rising star is making waves with his unique style of abstract rap and his seamless collaborations with standout artists such as Sol ChYld, Tommy Richman, and Wiseboy Jeremy. His track "WHO U FOOLIN," a collaboration with Tommy Richman, also made it onto Frank Ocean’s Homer Radio back in 2022. This year, he anticipates releasing his fourth album, which will also feature his recent single “proper vertigo” with New Jersey artist Sol ChYld.

I had a fantastic conversation with jmack as we discussed songwriting inspiration, the lessons he learned through collaboration, how moving to LA shaped his music career, and aspects he hopes to see more of in the hip-hop community. We also talked about his goals for upcoming projects and how he maintains consistency in expanding his discography. Incorporating influences from artists such as Odd Future, Vince Staples, Pharrell, Isaiah Rashad, and Missy Elliott, you can hear a diverse range of inspirations reflected in his flow, songwriting, and production. His in-depth songwriting and jazz-like production are unparalleled, delivering thoughtfulness on a whole other level. I can confidently say that mynameisntjmack is an independent artist to watch in 2024.

With the upcoming album, what would you say are some things that you're trying differently from your past projects?

I think fully embracing the production side of things. A lot of times, especially when I was coming up I was a type beat rapper and I'm not saying that in like a derogatory sense, but more so like I didn't really know a lot of producers, so I was rapping on beats that I would find on YouTube, do the whole like BeatStars split and just kind of like throw it up through DistroKid. I did that for my first couple of projects with BOOKMARK. We started to get more intentional with it, but that was just an EP. So now that this is a full project, we took songs that were demos at first and then sat down over the course of two years and built them into something greater. We brought on more people as we made relationships. A lot of it is live instrumentals, like live horns, live bass, live keys and stuff like that. It means a lot. That's my biggest thing in terms of progression. It’s focusing more on the production and how to build a full project and not just like, hey, these are the 10 hardest raps that I have, let’s put them out. 

Yeah, so it's really about building your network. And when you bring all of these people onto the album, do you just experiment with music through them as well?

Yeah, I'm happy to say that my friends really heavily influenced this from a live instrument standpoint and I think people will hear that through the production because it's cohesive and kind of brings that feeling of live music.

What's your advice to someone or to a smaller artist that wants to dive into similar genres to yours like instrumental, jazz, and boom bap rap?

I would say consistency. And I would say that to any artist in any genre because we all face those doubts about doing something that might not be popularly perceived because there's only so many things that are popular. We might not all be feeling like we're doing something that is amongst the zeitgeist, but at the end of the day I think just doing something consistently and learning from it, then continuing to do it better, and then eventually doing it well at a consistent clip is super important. I sat down with my friend and executive producer, John Wehmeyer like two and a half to three years ago and we said we were really gonna take the music seriously. We were like what does that mean? And it was really just putting out music at least once a month trying to learn what we could do better and when we saw results, we kept doing that and then over two to three years we just kind of got here. 

And speaking of collaborations, you and Tommy Richman have collabed many times on different songs and WHO U FOOLIN was even on Homer Radio. What are some things that you learned from him in terms of music that still sticks with you?

I would say things that I learned from him in terms of music is just not necessarily to not take it so seriously, but to trust an idea. He's easily the most creative person I've met, doing his own vocals and mixing a lot of that when he makes his songs and producing some of his own music. He's incredibly talented and I think his ability to build out an idea and formulate it from his head is super special and nobody else can do it like him. The important part about it is that he will take an idea and trust it more so than just work at it. You can beat an idea to death, but if you don't believe in that idea, it's an entirely different thing. But he'll be able to build it out. His mind just works differently.

So you moved from Virginia to LA. How did that influence your music career?

I was just talking to somebody about that last night. I love that question because I think it's just a super important one and a good reason for people to continue to move to these spaces such as LA and New York. Once you're around people who really do make music, make films, make art at a different level, since there's more people who do it in said area, you have two options, go home or get better and learn over time. So that was kind of what it was like because again Tommy is one of the only people who I've ever met who hears every part of the song. He could hear the drums, he could hear the vocals that he wanted to do, he could hear the backgrounds, and the harmonies. He just builds it out of hearing it instrumental. So to be around that it's like it forces you to be better. 

Are there any artists or producers that you'd like to collaborate with in the future?

In my head I say it's gonna happen, but I really want to work with somebody like The Alchemist one day. And I'm more excited to work with my friends because some of these people we really do just get together and hang out. So people like Jonah Roy, my friend greek, there's a homie named Broke Boi who is in Atlanta who I still haven't had a chance to actually sit down and link with, so there's a lot of producers that I'm looking forward to working with. And DaeDae from Pivot Gang is also really fire. I'm trying to work with him soon.

And in terms of your upcoming album and all of your upcoming music, what are some goals that you have for yourself?

My biggest goal is going to be to consistently and shamelessly promote it because I feel like we all are representing ourselves over social media. And for me, I know that I believe in the art itself, but sometimes I don't believe in people's willingness to receive it because I know sometimes I get overwhelmed. So I'm like do I really want to post every day about the music and like push it in people's faces? But that’s what you have to do because not everybody who hears the music today is everybody who's gonna hear it tomorrow. I just gotta keep going. They're either going to tap in or they'll unfollow and that's okay. The music never stops, so that's the biggest goal I have for myself is to continue to promote it. And then also to listen to it because I have a hard time once my music comes out. I've listened to it so many times and it's conception. And I don't listen to it unless I'm preparing to perform. 

With your two-track single, ‘which direction is jet lag?’ and ‘spliffbythewindow’ with Wiseboy Jeremy, what's your favorite line from either of those songs and why?

I would say off of ‘which direction is jet lag?’ it would definitely be the the first bar, “I probably used up all my allotted beats switches within the fiscal year,” just because ‘BUNKER/PREROLL’ and mainly ‘Leak’ did a lot for me over the past year and it felt like damn it sucks cause my second biggest song is a beat switch song and now that I'm trying to get off my little beat switch ideas I can’t do this again, at least not this year. So that's where that bar comes from and I just thought it was hard.  And then ‘spliffbythewindow’ I would say, “We blow the specs off decks make sure your DJ got his DJ straight see me TBD of late the c'est la vie a mental state.” Like making sure the DJ got his DB straight is a real and genuine concern. But so many sound engineers are all great people. I respect all playback engineers. That and the battle to make sure a live show is sounding good and straight. Sometimes you want to just turn that master up all the way and be like yep, I'll put it as loud as it can go so y'all can't possibly fuck up.

Who do you look up to when it comes to songwriting?

I really look up to guys like Vince Staples and Isaiah Rashad. Those are the two that I keep coming back to. And Andre 3000. I would also say that I've been listening to a lot of Outkast recently. I was listening to Outkast before the upcoming album just because I think there's a beauty in being able to say a lot with less words. And I think in the past I was trying to say a lot with a lot of words. I'm just trying to be more concise and continue to pack a lot fewer words with more meaning. And for example, I still want to be able to get a hook off without having it be this whole thing. And to be introspective and lyrical while also still providing something that people can nod their heads to is something I really respect because it's hard to do both. Andre 3000 is somebody people would nod their head to but he's also saying a lot. 

And to follow up with the hip hop community, what are some things that you like to see more of or even less of? 

Another awesome question. I love the ability to be friends with people that allow for more transparency. I think it takes just an open understanding of the spaces that we're all in. I feel like it's kind of silly for us to sit and say as a group there's all these bad contracts, they're taking advantage of us, and Spotify doesn't give us enough on the dollar per stream, and then we all don't communicate and we don't provide transparent details about the situations that we're going through. So something I'd like to see more of is just communication. Like, hey, the landscape is shifting right now and labels aren't necessarily dishing out crazy deals. There's a lot of distribution spaces now where they're offering smaller term deals for less masters and less licensing years or they’re trying to get you to sign away a project or a piece of your catalog for years of ownership, while not really devoting anything to your current project. But there's distro spaces that do it really well in places where you can pay $25 a month, still get pitching, and be able to have your songs playlisted. It just gives free game to people because there's enough room for all of us. When you stop looking at it as trying to be famous and start looking at it as acquiring fans because it doesn't take a lot of fans to be able to sustain yourself in my eyes at least.

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