Windy City Sounds: Jofred

Jofred: Bringing a New Sound To the Windy City

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There are plenty of artists in Chicago but not many put in the same amount thought or time as Jofred. Part of the PVTSTCK crew, Jofred has been dialing in his craft for years and is also part of the Grammy nominated group Chinza Fly where he first staked his claim as the world’s best Asian rapper. The talented MC has been working on a solo project, TULPA, for a little bit now and has cultivated a focused and captivating aesthetic to go along with his unique music. After hearing singles such as Yellow Boy and Ring Ring, it was hard not to be excited about Jofred’s future. We got the chance to ask him a few questions and he really gave some great answers that touch on Asian culture, his vision for his music and some of his biggest influences.


You have a defined, focused sound that is about as smooth as anyone. What has helped you cultivate that sound?
Over the years, I’ve been rapping seriously since I was 11 years old, I’ve been taking every influence that I’ve ever had and every sound and every genre that I listen to on the daily and try to mesh it together with the fact that I have a very lyrical, very flow structured, very ‘barry’ rap and then turning it into this original, progressive sound that no one else has. I’m always trying to, you know, make something that’s true to me and I feel like what’s true to me is being progressive and being on the edge and the forefront of a new sound, specifically in hip hop where everything is fickle and kind of stagnant sometimes. So really I just take the melodic influences, so like T Pain and the 808s and Heartbreaks Kanye West and then you know for my rapping kinda like heavy, aggressive, gangster rooted raps like Freddie Gibbs and you know, obviously Nipsey Hussle and NWA and Ice Cube, taking that kind of personality along with the technical ear I have where I listen to Sango and Masego and Monte Booker and just listening to all these crazy producers and then meshing it into this person that nobody really sounds like, that’s really the feeling I want to get. I want to take like everything that influences me and put it into a giant ball and call it TULPA, my project, essentially. 
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Not only is your music focused, but your visuals also share a common thread that seems inspired by anime. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to go for that aesthetic?

As the greatest Asian rapper alive, which I firmly believe and I feel like I’m one of the top 5 MCs in Chicago or the country or whatever — as an Asian american rapper I want to portray Asian-American culture in a way that’s not corny and that’s not you know watered down and I really want to put our culture on a pedestal and really show young Asian-Americans that we are really a big piece of art. Anime is really one of the more mass appealing, you know, one of the more popular outlets that people like to use for their creativity but I feel like anime within itself, that I’ve been a fan of since I don’t know, since Toonami since Dragon Ball Z and Inuyasha and all these crazy shows, is one of those mediums that is so familiar and it’s so eclectic because of the drawing style and the colors but you can put different story lines within the little cartoons that are dark and have tones of you know, evil and all these crazy different little adult based topics that are in a cartoon essentially. And everything in anime is personable, it’s something that’s intimate to the viewer. The movie Akira, the really old 90’s and 80’s anime films inspired my artwork because the person in the artwork that I put out that’s in that yellow hoodie is a serial killer by night and a Japanese school girl by day so it’s just a way for me to portray my creative side while uplifting Asian-American culture and putting it on that pedestal and blending it with hip hop.

 

How did you link up with PVTSTCK? What has it been like working with them?

I linked up with PVTSTCK through Rob Lyrical, who’s in my group Chinza Fly, after he met them at a Lollapalooza after party. Then you know they invited us to the studio and then we, when you get there and you start working with them, I’ve come to realize they’re the most genuine people in Chicago. It’s really hard to find people like that and they welcomed us like family. They know what’s dope and they know what’s bad and they’ll tell you if it’s bad and the fact that I’ve been working with them for so long lets me know I’m not bad. And they all have the same, to work with them, they all have the same ambition, they all have the same work ethic and everybody is striving for more and progressing which is how Chinza Fly is and working with them is finally like, you know, being with them has finally given me the backing and the tools that I need and the guidance and the organization that I need to put TULPA out and really be in a space that’s creative because so many people come through PVTSTCK and you meet so many new people you never know who’s gonna be there. It’s just one of those places that pushes you to your limit to see really what you could do with your creativity and music and having all these genuine people around you who want the best for you, just off the grip and off the strength without even really knowing us is just one of those rare, rare, rare, rare occasions and PVTSTCK is a place that’ll become a hub in Chicago if it’s not already. I’m just glad to be a part of it at this point in my life and and this point in their company and their label.

What has it been like working with Chinza//Fly? How does it feel working on solo material after working with a group? What are some of the biggest differences?

Just like PVTSTCK, working with Chinza Fly everybody is wanting to be developing new sounds. We’re always really honing our skills, that’s one of those things, we’re always focused on our skills and applying that to being creative and making our music because we’re not sticking to one type of sound. Like Rob and Steve (Steve Pugh and Rob Lyrical) they’re so versatile in the music they make and their work ethic just makes it even more incredible to be in a group with them. What’s really crazy though is that you know, me Rob Lyrical, Steve Pugh, Joe Rico have known each other for about a decade and you won’t find that chemistry with any other group and taking into account our talent and our skill and our work ethic combined, and the goals that we have, it’s one of those things that that I feel like nobody can stop us. As opposed to working on solo material, obviously there’s some things and experiences and ideas that I can’t convey while working with Chinza Fly. You know with Chinza Fly you can make things from scratch too but working with other producers I get to see perspectives that the people around me don’t have. It’s always great to meet new people, work with new people and there’s a broader option and you know people have different skill sets that Chinza Fly might not have when it comes to music composition and that really shapes a different new sound for TULPA and that might be the main difference. If I can’t do it in house I’m gonna reach out to different people essentially. And that’s how the solo project has come about

Big shout out to Jofred and PVTSTCK for making this happen! We hope you learned a little about Jofred and his dope music. Give him a follow on Twitter here and be on the lookout for TULPA, it’s sounding like a classic.


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