New York City emcee Jackson Turner presents the music video for “Sound Di Alarm”, his new single featuring Jamaican vocalist Bugle. “Sound Di Alarm” will appear on Turner’s forthcoming album Bare Knuckle Soul, also set to feature Luney Tunez, Fantan Mojah, Nkese P, Niki Darling and Ikeyia. Visuals for Bare Knuckle Soul single “Let Me Clear My Throat” have already been released (watch the music video). Turner’s 2015 EP Foundation hit the CMJ and !Earshot charts and was followed by Long Time Coming in 2017. Turner appeared on Donny Arcade’s “No Surrender” single (watch the music video), which charted on four Billboard charts. Bare Knuckle Soul will be released via Taihe Music Group, a label based in China, Where Turner, who speaks fluent Mandarin (watch the music video for Turner’s Mandarin rap song “One Love”), has lived sporadically for over ten years. He was judge on the show China HipHop Live twice, and appeared on the second season of Rap Of China. Turner has collaborated with N.B.S., Donny Arcade, Apex Zero and Chinese MC Webber (watch the music video for “Music Souljahs”) and performed in the US, UK, South Africa, China, Malaysia and Japan.
What’s your favorite verse in hiphop history and why?
Big Pun – Dream Shatterer. This song started out as a complete verse of probably around 50 bars. There are videos of Pun spitting this verse as a complete verse, before the song was released on his album and divided into 3 verses. This is my favorite verse of all time because of the lyrical ability Pun displays. His flow and rhyme schemes are like something out of a Max Roach drum solo. His content is on some Wu-Tang / Rakim hardcore imagery and knowledge. This is NY rhyming at its best.
You have a lot of experience with the China hiphop scene. What are its biggest differences between the US scene?
Well one of the major differences is that Chinese hiphop has really only had a 25 year history. They began experimenting with hiphop in the late 90s and it remained an underground movement until just two years ago. Now it has blown up into the Chinese mainstream and become one of the biggest markets in the world for hiphop. They are currently struggling to find their sound. The big companies all want to co-opt hiphop and change and water down its sound. The government wants to censor it and limit its influence. The underground is trying to get more exposure without losing their integrity. Another difference is that Chinese hiphop artists are rapping in different dialects, not just one language. They also are experimenting with blending hiphop with more Chinese style music. They are still in a transition phase, trying to figure out where they are going.
Artists gain inspiration from unlikely sources sometimes. What are who is one source of inspiration for you that we might not expect?
I get a lot of musical inspiration from other genres of music. This may not be that surprising because you can hear it in my music. I’m a big fan of reggae, soul, r&b, gospel, blues, jazz, folk and many other types of music. Two musicians you might not expect me to have been influenced by are Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt. Beyond that, I get a lot of inspiration for the content of my songs from reading and learning about the world. I think this is very important as an artist. As a creator, you have to have something to say. Whether you’re giving your opinion or telling a story or conveying an emotion or idea, it doesn’t matter. You have to have knowledge and experiences that you can put into words and that others can relate to. This is one of the most important aspects of song writing.
How did you connect with Bugle for “Sound Di Alarm”?
I had a link to Bugle’s management from a reggae record label I am very close with. They linked me with Bugle. I had a demo prepared and he really vibed with it. He literally sent me his recorded verse back within one day! After that, I had everything finalized and we scheduled a video shoot for a time when he was in NY to do a show. I’m not only a big fan of Bugle but am very impressed with his work ethic and his genuineness as a person. I’m truly honored to have had the experience to do a song and video together with the bredda. He’s a real dude.
What do you think the old school can learn from the new school and vice versa?
I think the new school can learn a lot about the sophistication of rhyming from old school (specifically east coast) hiphop. The art of rhyme is truly a dying art. Freestyle also seems to be fading into the distance. I think at some point there will be a revival of complex rhyming, where young kids are actively studying 90s hiphop and taking that word play and adapting it to a new sound. I think the old school heads can learn a lot about the electronic influences and different flow patterns that are the new school has adopted. What I would like to see is an artist (and there are a few out there) that can sort of synthesize the best of the old school with the best of the new school.