The term “John Public” makes reference to the average American or common citizen; and while the New York artist who goes by the same name is just a typical guy from around the way he’s far from run of the mill when it comes to his career in Hip Hop. Many will know him best for his outstanding work as a videographer, but that’s merely just the beginning of his story.
For a guy who once told his peers to turn off 2Pac and admits that back in the day he didn’t know who Q-Tip was John Public has journeyed a long way. In sharing with DXnext he talks about his introduction to Hip Hop, his role in the beef-turned-brotherhood between Joe Budden and Royce Da 5’9 and also reveals who he is as an artist.
New York Locale: “I currently live in [New] Jersey but I’m from the New York/Orange County area. The New York scene is obviously very diverse and I feel like there’s a lot of people that are bubbling right now that are doin’ some cool things. My market is a little bit different than what I feel the typical Hip Hop market is. I’m kinda dug in to the Hoboken area more so and there’s not really a Hip Hop scene there it’s more singer/songwriter.”
Different Beginning: “I started really carving out my niche as a videographer doin’ interviews and stuff like that. I’ve always done Hip Hop; I’ve been doin’ it for 10-12 years since high school. What really got me into the scene was workin’ for Loud.com interviewin’ all the people and that kinda stuff.”
Late Pass: “I distinctly remember in eighth grade I went to Catholic school and these kids were in the gym and they were playin’ 2Pac and I was like ‘Who is this shit? Turn it off!’ He was murdered that fall and that following year people were playin’ all this 2Pac stuff. The one song that for whatever reason really resonated was ‘Hit em Up’ and I was like, ‘This song is ridiculous! The emotion of this guy is crazy. I can’t believe I thought he was wack and whatever,’ so I started listenin’ to his catalogue and just got really into him. I went on to DMX ‘cause DMX was like the big dog at that time, pun intended. Then I was readin’ The Source and they had a cover with Q-Tip on it and I was like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ I really had no idea A Tribe Called Quest existed at that point; I was really late to the game obviously. Mos Def had a quotable in there from ‘Mathematics’ and I was like, ‘Yo, this is crazy!’ so I went and bought [Black On Both Sides] and that flipped the game for me and I was like ‘Mos Def is the shit!’ Eminem came out shortly after that, and those are the artists inspired me to write and to try and make some dope shit.”
Mince Meat, Squashing Someone Else’s Beef: “The whole Joe Budden and Royce Da 5’9 beef where I was sort of linked to in a way that eventually got them to start talking was pretty cool. From what Joe said, those conversations led to other things and obviously Slaughterhouse is where they are now.”
The Original Plan: “My whole plan was to go in the backdoor to work for an entertainment company or maybe a label and eventually walk in the door and be like, ‘this is my music and this is what I do ... help me out.’ I think that I was able to achieve everything up to that and I put out this album Re-gifted. I think it’s awesome but I sort of exhausted all my resources financially and everything like that to a point where I put all my eggs in that basket and I don’t know that it paid dividends. I feel like I should have been out doing more, I dunno, maybe every musician or career artist feels that way.”
Just Out, a Little Late: “The album, Re-Gifted, dropped on DJBooth.net on the 14th of December 2010. I talked to DJ Z and he was like, ‘Yeah let’s do it!’ I had hoped to actually put the album out like a year ago but I was unemployed and had l limited access to money.”
Relying on a 6th Sense: “6th Sense was instrumental in bringing this project together. He would always be tellin’ me like ‘This is dope,’ ‘Record that again,’ or ‘This wack! Don’t use it,’ or ‘That’s a dumb idea’ or ‘That’s a great idea.’ I don’t expect to work with anybody that’s not going to bring themselves to the table and that’s what really he was able to do.”
Paying is Optional: “If people wanna download Re-Gifted for free on DJBooth or Bandcamp or wherever they can do that. If they like it the idea of it being for sale on iTunes is that they can go and support it whether they buy a song or a whole album or whatever. I’m big on free music. Artists should get paid in some respect for what they do but I wouldn’t expect anybody to pay me for anything if they really didn’t know what I could do. I think that an artist has to be more resourceful these days, and obviously we’ve sorta seen that with the placements and people pushin’ hard for the commercial endorsements.”
Thrift Shop Hip Hop: “When you buy something at a thrift store you’re taking that item home but you’re also taking its stories and its memories and all that kinda stuff. It’s almost like when you’re talking to a person you’re investing into them and you’re becoming part of their memories in the same way that at a thrift store you would go and take an item home. I’m tryin’ to make music that I think people can relate to, that people can see there’s experience behind and that there’s a story and a feeling behind it they can invest themselves, that’s more or less what thrift shop hip-hop means.”
On the Move: “I recently just finished a three-day tour with Abstract Music Group where we did Brooklyn, Newark and Waterbury, Connecticut. I have one or two shows coming up in Hoboken in May which will probably be my last shows in the area for a while because I’m gunna be moving to the Virginia area for at least a couple years; my girlfriend is gunna be goin’ to grad school so we’re headed down that way.”
Nix the Deejay: “I love playin’ with my band and I think that’s more fun than just rockin’ with a deejay. I’ve been a drummer myself since I was seven, so I’ve always dug the live element more so than the deejay. Obviously nothin’ against deejays, it’s phenomenal what they can do. For me I’d rather play with a keys player, a bass player, a drummer and guitars and I’d still love to add a horn eventually to my band.”
Follow John Public on Twitter: @JohnPublicMusic”