Jace Abstract is a talented underground rapper and producer based in Geneva who deserves all the support he can get. He has been a part of the world Wide connects community since its most humble beginnings, and hopefully this interview will help give him more exposure. Michael Azkoul my friend from world wide hip-hop connects had a chance to talk to him. I really was meant to publish this in September in a Zim hip-hop magazine i was planning but all plans on that project failed and i picked up on Zimlink. however i kept these interviews in a safe place for a later date.
QUESTION: First of all, thank you for participating in this interview. Let’s get started straight up with some of the basics, how long have you been doing your thing and what first inspired you?
JACE ABSTRACT: Well, I’ve been rapping “properly” since February 8th, 2005, when I turned 15, yet I started writing here and there at around 13-14 years old. It’s only been since 2011, however, that I decided to start pushing my music more into the public eye and release videos and songs regularly, even perform on stage. I would say my inspiration came from being around music most of my life – my parents always had music going on in the house – and the way Hip Hop really drew me towards the genre more than any other type of music must be a reason I started eventually, as I have been a fan of Hip Hop since the age of 8.
Q: How do you feel about the Hip Hop scene where you are? What have been your main difficulties?
JACE: The Hip Hop scene has clusters of talent and promising artists, especially since after the UK and the Netherlands I would consider Switzerland to be the next largest hotspot for music. Unfortunately, unlike the 2 previous mentioned countries, there seems to be a lack of cultural place for aspiring artists, especially rappers, and if you don’t speak French or German it seems harder to get local support. Local support is what is generally missing from the scene to be honest, and it makes it difficult for countries with a much larger and more developed music scene to take Swiss artists seriously. The most problems I have is the fact that i don’t “look like a rapper”, which is such a silly judgement to make in this day and age where rappers are leaning way over into the more eccentric fashion and presentation.
Q: Your music is often introspective and deep, very related to your personal life. How do you feel music has helped you deal with these issues?
JACE: I was bullied most of my years in school, starting from the age of 4-5, with certain years being very violent, as I am an extremely introverted person, most of the time wanting to be in my own bubble. I would write at first to escape the things I had to deal with being a “loner” in a large international school where that typical class system was present. I saw that no matter what i did i was always that “different” kid. I found that through music I could release my anger and anxiety, depression, etc – without having to physically manifest it or cause myself to self-destruct. When I moved past that period of life, I still clung on to Hip Hop as I had done before as my “Therapy”. It was almost like seeing a psychiatrist, except it was free and I could render something negative into something positive – which in turn can help other people through relativity. I can honestly say Hip Hop is the only reason I am alive at the moment – I can’t imagine a life without music where I would have made it to this age, to be honest (without meaning to sound crazy) I think I would be dead.
Q: How do you feel about how other people might interpret the themes which are so personal to you? Are you afraid of being misunderstood?
JACE: Not particularly. A lot of people take themselves too seriously in all aspects of their life. Why should I? I put out what I feel the need to put out and the people listening take what they want from it. Not that I would have anything against people having an opinion of my music, but more of how or why… why does it matter? If they can’t handle what I’m talking about they honestly shouldn’t be listening in the first place. It’s like going to see a horror movie knowing it’s going to be scary and then getting mad ’cause you can’t sleep that night ’cause of the movie you watched. It doesn’t make sense.
Q: Do you think Hip Hop artists (and perhaps artists in general) have a responsibility towards their listeners? To talk about social issues or politics, or even just to keep it real?
JACE: I am a 100% believer in that you have to “keep it real” when it comes to talking about your reality in your music. As Jay-Z said: “your word was everything, so everything you said you do, you did it – couldn’t talk about it if you ain’t live it”. Unless I am purposely writing a fictional text for a story to get across a point from a different angle, I always draw from my life. Not saying you can’t be fictional in your raps (for example, in battle/lyrical type raps, or as mentioned before, creative writing), but if you’re going to talk about something, why do anything other than real? Nothing hits harder than the real. As for being socially conscious and politically aware, to each his own… but to be honest, the whole “spreading awareness” rap is way too played out. Everybody and their mother has something to say about world issues, which makes you worse than the critics you will scowl for giving such scrutiny afterwards. The only way I would bare those topics is if they were taken from a different angle, for instance, someone who lives in that country has the right to speak on it as they probably know it best, going back to “keeping it real”. but when I see people from here talk about politics (I am guilty of it in my social life at times) it’s always aimed at the USA and I don’t understand the reasoning, their laws don’t affect you…
Q: What do you think of the idea of connecting Hip Hop artists worldwide, do you see how people (artists and their listeners) could benefit from this? How have you benefited from it?
JACE: It’s like any collaboration, good for both parties. As in you might gain a listener from the other person and visa versa. It’s a way to bring different cultures together, and to reinforce that Hip Hop is global. Basically the more global you stretch your collaborations the more your presence grows, the more your connections build, the more opportunities you have to expand past where you are based.
Q: What is your opinion of Africa’s Hip Hop scene, have you been exposed to it at all?
JACE: I’ve heard a lot of African Hip Hop here and there, as many African friends of mine show me artists that they either know or are big back home. I’m a big fan of London based British and Ghanaian rapper Sway, and he’d gone to the continent and recorded with a couple of local artists at one point. No names really spring to mind that I can remember other than that, except for this song “Go Away” by South African group Teargas which I liked. Mostly was more mainstream sounding Hip Hop. Then obviously Die Antwoord.
Q: How do you feel about mainstream entertainment and the effect it has on you and your communities? Do you think it represents the average people?
JACE: Mainstream music represents the lifestyles the people who signed the artists wish they had but don’t want their kids to be like, which is weird cause it’s targeted at young people like everything else. I don’t understand how there’s no relativity anymore, I can’t relate to ANY of these new artists. Except for a dope beat and a certain catchiness once in a while nothing nowadays has me hooked like when I was growing up. And no, definitely does NOT represent average people – most people don’t party with models and bottles, making it rain with hundred bills and leave in Rolls Royces. Couldn’t be further from the reality.
Q: What advice can you give to other underground artists, in Africa and elsewhere, to get their music out there and continue doing their thing?
JACE: I would just say follow what your heart tells you. Find your niche. Discover who you are, why you are different from every other artist trying to make it (no matter how original you are or think you are, there needs to be a certain amount of self-awareness). Take advantage of the social networking sites. Remember, no one is going to come to you, so YOU are the one that needs to make things happen. And most importantly, have fun, life is too short to be serious and stressed, and keep it real, keep it Hip Hop.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about Grim City? Also please take this moment to shout-out anyone/anything else you feel has been important to you as an artist.
JACE: Grim City is a collective of 3 MC’s (Branko, Inztrow & myself) who banded together in 2006 as we were always making music together and thought we might as well form a group. The music we do remains for the moment as it always was, just for us, we didn’t really care who heard the tracks, we just wanted to do the music we wanted to make.
Shouts out to wWc, Grim City, Molotov, GanzHQ, Mathz, Dr Koul, Cas.B, Redstar, Rootwords, Le Spectre, Rekah, Lord Lhus, Empty Handed Warriors, All my Swiss peoples, and everyone else I know around the globe, innit.
Q: Thank you for your time. Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. Keep doing your thing & stay Connected.
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