J Beats is a Cape Verdean artist living in Brockton, Mass. The first songs of his that I came across, including “Strawberry,” struck me for having so much in common to the beat music coming out of LA. But he’d never heard any of those artists before and his beats were actually instrumentals in search of vocalists. His sound is rooted firmly in the Lusophone styles, occasionally straight forward Zouk or Kuduro. But rap and R&B have had heavy influences on him and the music is as much a part of him as the sounds of CV. He frequently works with D.Lopes, who handles mic duties and pushes CV music heavily in the US. Make sure to cop Jay’s tune off Good Bread!
When did you come to the US?
J Beats – I came to Brockton in 1997 when I was 16 and spoke zero English. We had English class in Cape Verde, but I never really picked it up. I was surprised how many Cape Verdeans there were here. People used to say there was about 15,000 in Brockton at that time. I came from a small island in CV called Sao Vicente. It’s known for its rich culture of music and art. People there love to party, too. It’s crazy out there!
Did you make music while living there?
J – No… but my brother was a rapper out there in the early ’90s, so I grew up listening to rap because of him… Wu Tang was my favorite. I remember blasting the music really loud on my father’s boombox and the neighbors would get mad. My brother only rapped in Cape Verdean creole.
So what’s Brockton like?
J – It’s known for the famous boxer Rocky Marciano, and also for its shoe factories. When I got here, it was known for having bad gang violence, but it’s a lot better these days.
Are there a lot of CV nights there where you can hear Lusophone music?
J – There’s a lot of Cape Verdean bars with live traditional CV music. There’s a Cape Verdean genre called Morna. It’s our traditional music, you only hear it in Cape Verde. And also there’s Zouk or Kizomba, which is a music made by most African countries. But the clubs will never play real traditional Cape Verdean music, they’re more modern. There’s only one club in Brockton, though. People here like to go to CV clubs in Boston and Providence. In Providence, there’s Tantric and Club Zouk.
How’d you get into production?
J – When I came here, my brothers wanted to start a rap group, so they bought me a drum machine, the Dr. 550 Boss.
How’d you meet D.Lopes?
J – Through my wife at a cook out. I had a few beats and started playing them from a car stereo. He started freestyling with a bunch of other friends. From there we started working together.
You once called your style “CV Beats.” Can you describe that?
J – To me, CV Beats is a mix of CV Zouk and hip hop. All of my CV Beats start as hip hop, then I change the drums to a CV feel. Typically CV music is known for being soft and smooth, but mine’s is the complete opposite. If I could describe my beats in one word, it’d be “bruto,” which means “rough” in CV creole. My music has always been different, and in a way dark.
Have you got any new releases coming up?
J – Yeah, I have one with an artist from Holland named Jarrion. I’m currently working on C.A.B.O. 2 with D.Lopes, and I’m also in the beginning stages with a CV rap group called LogoSquad. Lastly, I have a track with Jay R. Veiga. No release dates yet.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1Sq997rjzQ[/youtube]Jennifer Dias ft. D.Lopes – Mama Africa (Prod by J Beats)