Two things hit hard after a 'conversation' with B.B.Jay. The first is that the brother speaks nearly as fast and as flowingly as he raps. The second is that his expession is consistently laced with the Word.
He's even got scripture on being 'phat like dat'. Here's what he says:
"Yeah, I'm phat like dat". What I'm saying is, to be phat, the root meaning comes from Prov. 11:25: "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that waters shall be watered also himself." So, I'm talking Bible fat, not baby fat! Basically it's saying that the person who gives their time, money, wisdom for the benefit of someone else, God in turn makes your soul fat like that. So whatever fat is blessed."
As Jive's hip-hop pride and joy, the hefty artist clearly revels in double meaning, and takes obvious delight in explaining what his rhymes mean.
"Basically I've been giving my time and wisdom and money for others, and God is making my soul fat like that. So on "Don't Be Mad (Who's Da Blame?)", I'm saying don't be mad because I'm blessed, because I have an abundance in my life. Don't be mad because I'm blessed like that. Don't be mad because you're style is wack —that's like, a lot of people look in the mirror and don't like what they see, they 're miserable with themselves. I'm saying 'blame God', simply because God is the one who is blessing me. He's the one who has given me the opportunity, he's the one who lets us rise up out of circumstances, who makes something out of nothing, who makes a way out of no way, and gives an opportunity for everyone. But it's up to an individual to accept his way or to reject his way. So it's not my fault, He's the one responsible, He's the one to 'blame' for all my blessings."
That line about 'blaming God' is just one of the points of heated discussion that have been raging about B.B.Jay, ever since his independently-released "Pentacostal Poppa" single starting heating up the BET video request line back in 1998. Much of that controversy has centered around the elemental similarity of his style to that of the late secular hip-hop artist, Biggie Smalls.
"I sound like Biggie? Yeah, so many people say that. As a hip-hop artist, and as a fan of hip-hop music, no one can deny that he was a great part of hiphop. He's greatly missed —I wish I could have got to work with him. The thing is, I feel so overwhelmed that people even mention my name in the same breath as Biggie Smalls, simply because I feel like I'm not worthy . I don't try to sound like Biggie. I always tell people, I could never be Biggie Smalls, I can only be B.B.Jay. A lot of people try to skip goodness and go to greatness, but I'm just trying to be a good B.B.Jay. If I just stay the course, maybe I'll be a great B.B.Jay some day."
So if not Biggie, then how about Rocky? That's the first comparison that he makes when asked about who he is.
"I'm like the Rocky Balboa of hip-hop. I represent people all over the world, you know, having an intimacy and a realness, first of all acknowldging God our creator, and then acknowledging his people, who are his creation, and the world. I'm like Rocky because a true champion is not necessarily one who wins the awards, the platinum and silver. No, it's because I say, 'look, I have ups and downs in life, I have things to deal with in life', and thats like the everyday person, every level, every ethnic group. A true champion is one who never gives up. I represent everyone who has a desire to be a champion, and who IS a champion every time they get up and go to work or school or whatever. It can be difficult sometimes, but I'm not going to give up."
The boxing theme also surfaces on the title of his debut album, Universal Concussion (see review), which B.B.Jay says refers to 'world wide impact' and references his vision to change the face of rap through the delivery of good news, of sanctified rhymes. To some it will sound brash, perhaps even bragging. Indeed, if you isolate a phrase or two from his material and don't examine the surrounding rhyme, it certainly does appear that way. And yet in rap and in conversation, B.B. always qualifies that confidence by saying "I acknowledge God in everything simply because without Him, I am nothing, and with Him, I can do everything but fail."
"Like on 'I Told You So', I'm saying that whenever you try to do something, you got people who support you and people who don't support you. It's a song that says that I was to be successful, based on my hard work and my faith in God. And now I'm phat like that —I'm blessed like that. I say look at God, look at what God has done, he's taken something that was nothing, and made something beautiful out of it. So people relate to that because everyone's trying to reach a goal. I'm really blessed to do what I do, and it's really not based on my skill, it's based on my faith in God. And the word of God says that faith without works is dead. The reason why B.B.Jay is so alive and kickin' like a newborn is because of my faith and hard work. It goes together real well."
The story of how he went from a struggling artist in the streets of New York to landing a Jive Records contract is one that B.B. Jay likes to tell. During his "Pentecostal Poppa" days, B.B. was consecutively signed to two small, independent labels. "Both situations were ones where I learned alot, but there were two times where my contract was bought out." Through those business dealings, his work somehow reached the ear of the influential music industry exec., Andre Harrell.
"Man, I'm so grateful for that. I went to meet him in an Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan, and I walked in and I said, 'Wow that's Andre Harrell'. So we sat down and he asked me a couple questions, and then he turned to his people and said' Ok, that's enough, this kid is a superstar, I've heard enough.' So he introduced me to Jive Records, and it's been a lot of love.
On the way, B.B.Jay has had the opportunity to meet and work with some of renowned. He's quick to acknowledge mentorship of MC Hammer.
"He's like a big brother to me. He's just a great guy, we hang out and chat. You know, a lot of people tell me, 'B.B. you need this and you need that in your entourage, you need two DJs, you need more of this etc.', but this means nothing to me. I've learned so much from Hammer, because if anyone has learned about doing too many things and going over budget, it would be him. He's educated me so well. I'm going at a pace that I know I can handle. The things I've learned form him is wisdom that I could never learn in a book."
Then there's Prince Markie Dee, of Fat Boy fame, who worked with B.B.Jay in producing much of the album.
"To work with Markie was a big joy. I mean I was so much into The Fat Boys. I was always eating pizza, to the point my mom thought I knew them! She'd be like, 'there's your friends on TV!', and I'd be like, Ma, I really don't know them. So to actually work with Markie was a great joy."
B.B. is one of only a handful of hip-hop artists with a Gospel message on a mainstream label. "Sometimes it's good to be isolated, and being the first to do what I do, is a great responsibility. There's a lot of artists who are rooting for me on the Gospel side as well as on the mainstream side. They're saying, 'B.B.Jay, do your thing because you're the bridge that's going to allow a lot of people to come over."
"My genre of music is Gospel, hip-hop and R&B actually, and I'm trying to expand. Music being the medium, I don't consider myself as 'B.B.Jay the Gospel rapper'. Yes I am a Christian, I believe strongly in Jesus Christ, I believe he died for my sins and the while nine, and I believe that God put a message in my mouth for this day. It's a strong message for this 'mess age'."
"I'm also a performer. When I hit the stage, I'm a big brother, but I get down, you know what I'm saying? I was born to perform. because, I'm free. The Bible says that he who the Son sets free is free indeed, and I'm so free. You see, the only person I have to please is God. Yes, I have obligations as a recording artist to Jive. But the only person I have to please is God, and if God gives me the green light, then I put my foot on the gas and I'm outta here, you know what I'm saying? He opens the doors, and that's why I'm allowed to do the things that I do.
And these things, that's not because of my talent, but because God is so awesome, and being that no-one can put God in a box, He is showing that His are the best in every genre, in every career, and I'm just a manifestation of that. My career is 'hop-hop artist'; I rap and I have faith in Jesus Christ. I rap good things and good news, which is what Gospel means. I'm not ashamed of my faith. Because of God I am who I am and without Him I'm nothing. I wish people wouldn't get so caught up in titles. You are who you are, and I'm a hiphop artist.
"I'm really living my dream right now. Why dream the life when you can live the dream."
And you can be sure that B.B.Jay's got scripture on that one too.
B.B. Jay - “Universal Concussion”
March 01, 2001
The beats are steady, deep and lyrical. The message is provocative, literate and hardcore. And yet there is not one profane word. This is B.B. Jay: Rap music’s conscience and soul.
Long before recording “Universal Concussion,” B.B Jay had developed a devoted following, having attracted millions of fans for his first independent single “Pentecostal Poppa.” The song received considerable airplay on both BET, the Box and national radio play in 1998 and its popularity resulted in his deal with Andre Harrell and Jive Records.
“I want people to see clearly the difference between hip-hop an hip-slop,” he says. “I enjoy music that has meaning and I live for my music to be authentic and soul-stirring for all music lovers.”
B.B. Jay displayed his musical talents very early, writing his first song in sixth grade. That tune—“Follow Your Dream,” remains his theme song today. “Music is the way I express myself.” he says. “I always enjoyed reading and writing and I’ve always been searching for that inner-peace that only a world wide stage could provide.” He spent his adolescence in an ethically diver New Jersey neighborhood, where he gained an appreciation for multiplicity. “I’m glad I could live in that environment,” he notes. “I can dispel myths.” As a result of this milieu, he developed an interest in different musical artists and styles, from Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Run DMC, MC Hammer and Fred Hammond to Will Smith, Elton John and John Lennon.
B.B. Jay began his hip-hop journey as a local DJ at house parties, community youth groups and neighborhood events. After making his way at various shows and events, his greatest encounter happened when he met MC Hammer. Quickly forming a friendship, B.B. Jay and Hammer began collaborating on various projects, after which Hammer invited B.B. Jay to perform with him during the 1999 summer jam series. The culmination of their efforts happened when Hammer asked B.B. Jay to join him at the Wango Tango show at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Sharing the stage with the likes of Will Smith, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and Dru Hill, B.B Jay performed for the huge crowd which topped over 65,000 people.
Today, B.B. Jay still remains unfazed by the heady company he’s kept on his way to establishing his own career, inspired by well-known artists yet humbled by up and coming artists still struggling to make their dream a realization.
B.B. Jay’s greatest influence is a desire to dispel negative stereotypes and promote a positive attitude, especially in the face of adversity. This serious, probing sensibility is widely evident throughout “Universal Concussion.” Co-produced by B.B. Jay, Swing Central and mark Morales (Prince Markie Dee), the album pierces rap mythology, with hard hitting commentary celebrating truth and values combined with a sound and vibe that transcends musical boundaries.
“Hiz Love” which makes seductive use of DeBarge’s 1983 mega hit “All This Love,” is about love but in the B. B. Jay vision. “We ought to know how to love anybody. Basic kindness, simple consideration,” B. B. Jay says. “The world is full of so much hate, that love can turn all this hate into something beautiful.” While “One Way” with its practical message for people in pain was inspired by “ a time in my life when I was in a distressful place in my mind,” he says. “It’s a real special song to me.”
“Don’t Be Mad”, another provocative track, reveals B.B. Jay’s thoughts on the one true thing that is wholly responsible for all his blessings. The hook says it all, as B.B. Jay spits over a hard hitting beat, “Don’t be mad ‘cause I’m phat like that, don’t be mad because I’m blessed like that, don’t be mad ‘cause your style is whack, blame God.” “Hot Ta Def” invites listeners to “Defeat Every Fallacy,” he says. “Everything that’s been glorified, that’s destructive, my music puts an end to all that.”
“Po No Mo’” is a song about mental, physical and spiritual poverty. “People are peace oppressed,” B. B. Jay says. “If you don’t have peace, you also lack direction, and if you lack direction then you have no destiny.” “Okeedoke,” is about the games people play and the on-going deceptions of mankind. “Okeedoke” is a phrase I use to describe the scams of the foolish.”
B.B. Jay reveals his sentimental side on “For The Ladies, “ a gloriously loving, melodic and respectful tribute to women. “It’s from the heart,” B.B. Jay says. “It’s an anthem for women all over the world, a celebration of divine femininity.”
The album’s title track “Universal Concussion” makes clear B.B. Jay’s artistic ambitions. “I want everything I do to have meaning worldwide, beyond all parameters.” He states. “Through its authenticity, hip-hop can reach beyond its own boundaries. The music is soulful and its impact is like a universal quaking of the earth.”
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