“I want people to feel comfortable expressing their emotions without judgment.”
Suppose you were to ask Tampa-born rapper JAWNZA who he most sounds like in his music. In that case, his answer would most likely be JAWNZA. The rising talent has a broad range in production choices, laying his signature vocal tone and addictive hooks over any type of beat imaginable. JAWNZA has made a career of defying genre conventions and audience expectations. His new project, ‘Notice of Demolition,’ is hard to pin down into one particular genre. At eleven tracks in length, the body of work experiments with a wide range of sounds. At times rich and earnest, at other times more playful and skittering, JAWNZA doesn’t box himself in.
He recently sat down with me to talk about his creative process, how vital art direction is to him, and what he wants listeners to take away from this new project. An edited version of the conversation is below.
Four questions for JAWNZA
How did the concept of the project come together?
I reverse-engineered this body of work. I was working on another project that will remain nameless for now, but I felt like it needed an intro explaining its path. This is where ‘Notice of Demolition‘ was born.
What were you listening to during the recording process?
Honestly, I can’t listen to other music when I’m in project mode, which clouds my creative judgment. Life experiences, sound selection, and just the vibe I and the homies are on are the things that inspire the music. Since I started making music, the thought that I’d be categorized into a single genre never crossed my mind. My influences cover a broad spectrum of sounds, so naturally, my music ranges. One day I’ll be in the studio with someone who makes hot-ass hip hop beats on FL, and another day I’ll be writing a song with someone who plays guitar and barely touches a DAW. This works because I found the sound in my voice and my songwriting. That’s how I found the balance: my approach to writing songs gives me the ability to rap over any beat style while still sounding like JAWNZA.
The art direction leading up to this project all have a similar look and feel. Can you tell me about creating visuals for this new project? Where did the idea come from?
I started by creating a universe that embodies this project and the next two. FREE-RADICAL was the big bang that created the universe. ‘Notice of Demolition‘ is about JAWNZA getting hurt after landing in the world within that universe to extend the metaphor. Hence the Andy Warhol-inspired cover art with the bandage on my head. I give all praise to my creative partner in crime, Aldo “vr3tro” Martinez, who I’ve been working with since my first Soundcloud tape, ‘Complex.’ Working with someone I can trust creatively, especially someone who’s been a part of everything I’ve done is the key to my consistency and cohesion in the art direction.
Lastly, what do you hope listeners take away from this body of work?
In these songs, I can be vulnerable, level-headed, and narcissistic. I want people to feel comfortable expressing their emotions without judgment. I want them to take away a feeling of community, that they’re part of a collective journey. We’re all on the human experience.