Journalist 103 ‘Reporting Live’
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT —“Reporting Live” features 15 original songs from the Detroit emcee, featuring guest appearances from national artists Freeway, Saigon and Eternia, plus production from Monkodelic, Oddisee, Black Bethoven and more. Babygrande Records is handling international distribution, a company with a 10-year history of delivering independent albums from artists like Brand Nubian, Wu-Tang Clan and more.
The album is a follow up to the critically acclaimed album “Gas Mask” from the group The Left, released in 2010 through Mello Music Group. The Left featured Journalist 103, Apollo Brown and DJ Soko, and the concept of the album’s title was to warn audiences that hip hop music is being used against the people like poison. Positive, thought-provoking music can act as a “gas mask” to help filter out the nonsense.
Journalist 103 says he senses the urgency in bringing hip hop back to its roots of creative expression as a way to help society. Listening to popular hip hop and R&B music on the radio today tends to promote negative behaviors, he says.
“You’re talking about an art that’s barely 30 years old,” says Journalist 103, “but coming up in the ‘90s, there was a clear distinction: this is a hip hop record, this is an R&B record. Now they’re almost identical. Everything is oversexed, everything is all about money, everything is all about superficial things. Nothing feeds the soul, there’s no nourishment in the music. It doesn’t stimulate the brain.”
“Reporting Live” builds on the statement that “Gas Mask” made about hip hop as a culture being neglected by the corporations who control distribution and promotion of the music. When popular rap artists appeal only to materialism, misogyny and criminal behavior, the art becomes separated from the hearts of the people.
“The music corporations, they manufacture music,” says Journalist 103. “It’s not meant to be manufactured; it’s a creative process, you have to create it. It has to come from the heart. When writing something, I never come in with trying to follow gimmicks, or just be insincere. I want the audience to feel where I come from, I want them to feel like they can relate.”
Journalist 103 has been a productive member of Detroit’s hip hop scene for over 15 years, first as a member of the group Mountain Climbaz, then as an artist affiliated with Iron Fist Records, the local label run by the late Proof of D12. His music has always been praised for high quality, but opportunities to reach a wide audience were elusive.
“For years and years, (we were) trying to get into the industry,” says Journalist 103. “It seems like every summer we would get close and the door would slam in our face(s). I could not understand it for the life of me. I said, ‘The music is dope, there’s radio singles,’ and I couldn’t understand it.”
But Journalist says when he started to do things his own way, things started to open up for him.
“I started going in the direction that I needed to go,” he said.
Topics on “Reporting Live” include love, following your dreams to success and the violence on the streets being a reflection of the violence of war and oppression in the world. His goal in writing lyrics is to be authentic in what he sees and for the world to understand him as an innovative creator.
“In my music that’s pretty much what I want to do, I want to take you places. I want to take you where I’ve been and show them that I can relate and show them pretty much that’s it’s somebody else out here that thinks like you.”
Despite all the difficulties he has endured trying to bring his music to the public, Journalist 103 has re-emerged in 2012 with a fresh and relevant sound. The youthful power and energy of his voice is testament to the arrival of his time for success as an independent artist.
“There’s been many days I wanted to leave this thing; I wanted to just quit,” he said. “I’m starting to realize and accept that I might not be able to do anything else. Being a hip hop artist is just a part of my makeup. If that’s what it is, then the best thing to do is just accept that and roll with the punches.”