Bay Area, California emcee J.Lately presents the Erica Eng-directed music video for “Papayas & Blunt Smoke”, the Space Cadet-produced single from J.’s album Be Fucking Happy (stream on Soundcloud), featuring guest appearances from Demrick, Khyenci Tienne, Rexx Life Raj, Beejus and KBong as well as production from Mikos Da Gawd, Chase Moore and Kris Rewlz. Hailing from Sebastopol, and having split time between Oakland and Southern California, Lately has toured with Zion I, Locksmith, and A-Plus of the Hieroglyphics, and his previous releases include “Save Yourself” featuring Blu (Soundcloud) and visuals for “I’ll Be Living” (Youtube) and “Breathe” (Youtube). “The minute that Space Cadet played me this beat I knew I wanted to make this song,” Lately says about the single.”I often get caught up in all the troubles of the world, or searching for all the answers to life, but with this one I just wanted to make a fun song that appreciated the small joys of life. I wanted to live in the moment.”
How did you get your stage name?
My name is supposed to act as a reminder to myself that I should always be growing and changing. The J stands for my first name, Jeremy, so it’s basically just supposed to mean Jeremy, lately. I think we often get presented with this idea that we’re supposed to stay the same, as if that means the same thing as like staying true or something. I personally think it’s natural and healthy to grow and experience new things. So my name is basically me saying this is me lately, and hopefully that’s not the exact same person you knew from before.
What made you decide to become a rapper?
I’ve loved rapping and a majority of the stuff that comes along with it for a long time, but I think the moment I really knew deep down that this was something I wanted to commit my life to was the first time I had the chance to go on a small tour. I was just out of college and working at a high school at the time, and I got invited to go out on a tour that was a few weekends in a row, like Thursday through Saturday or Sunday each week. I would work my job during the week and then dip out early for the shows each weekend. I just noticed how everyday that I woke up and got to go do music I was happy and completely energized, no matter how little sleep I was running on. And then I would come home and go back to work and wake up off a full night of sleep in my own bed and still feel tired and in a funk. I just became addicted to the idea that I could create a life for myself where my “job” gave me so much enjoyment and purpose each day.
What’s the first rap song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
To tell you the truth, I can’t for the life of me remember the first rap song I ever heard. I’m sure it was one that my older brother was playing though, because he’s the one that put me onto all the first rap I listened to. I do remember the first rap song I ever memorized all the words to though. It was “We Trying To Stay Alive” by Wyclef, off the Carnival album. My dad used to have a membership to one of those CD clubs where you buy 2 CDs and they send you like 15 extra, and he let me pick one so I chose that album. I memorized that whole song super quick, but I remember not knowing half of the shit I was actually saying at the time.
How did “Papayas & Blunts Smoke” come together?
I actually thought my album was done before I made this song. I had 10 tracks that I really liked, and I was in the process of doing all the final recordings and mixing and whatnot on them. One day I was sitting in the studio with Space Cadet, who produced half of my “Be Fucking Happy” album, and he was just playing me some beats and played me this one. I immediately fell in love with it and knew that I had to write to it and add it to my album. There was just something about the way that he put so much good energy in there, and did it in a way that sounds completely unique and natural to itself. The lyrics came super easy once I just let myself get lost in the beat.
What are your predictions for 2018, for your music and the music world in general?
For myself, I easily see 2018 being my biggest year so far. I’m about to head out on a 30+ full US tour with my dude Locksmith, and I have a bunch of new music on the way. I’ve been really honing in on my sound and I can’t wait to share that with people. For the music world in general, I see 2018 being filled with a bunch of really good music and a bunch of really shitty music, just like basically every other year.