Placing the Rock

Excerpted from a recent interview with J. Preston Mitchell:

J.: You know man, it’s hard. You fight so hard and work so much to craft all this shit inside you — you know? I’m not talking bones and shit, but we talking years! — of frustration and self-doubt, and you’re like trying to make that come together and become something. I want to be SOMETHING, man, not just some street rhymer from JP who had shit to say and went downtown way. I don’t wanna be another dude getting shot by some (ed: deleted) near the Tobin. I ain’t in for that kinda shit. 

The way I see is like this, right man?

Benji: Okay. Go ahead.

J: I was on that shit for years. YEARS, man. You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout?

Benji: “Not specifically, no, but…”

J.: It’s like this. (turns to me) It’s like this, man: You ever been so completely in love with some girl like completely out of your league?

Benji: Well… not exactly, but I’m familiar with… 

J.: :laughs: oh you’re wearin’ them purple Cons — I know what that means.

Benji: Well yes, but, um okay, they match my… what, uh, were you saying?

J: No worries man, we cool. What I’m sayin is it’s like you cruise up, see this (ed: deleted) with this ass like… damn man! you’d probably know!

Benji: Uh… I uh… ::flustered::

J.: This booty just like poppin’ — and she got her crew wit her and I got mine, basically: (ed: deleted) go to work; J.’s payin’ — we playin’ — know what I mean.

Benji: Uh, sure. Okay, you were talking about your struggles, what you found difficult in your life and your resulting willingness — which I find truly admirable — to turn that into some of the best hip-hop this area has seen in years. Can you talk about that?

J.: Well I was so into that shit to the point where it was like — do I pay for heat or pay for this?

Benji: We’re talking women here? …something else?

J.: That pure-ass Brookline shit. They don’t make that shit down in JP. So I was writing just during the day and out playin small joints and hustlin at night just to get more. And it kinda dawned on me, after I dried out and got done with it, that what I’ve got in here (ed: thumps a well-muscled and heavily-inked chest) is like a pebble right now.

Benji: What do you mean “like a pebble?” Like insignificant? Or what?

J.: Naw man, no, not at all. A pebble like a small part of something bigger. I wanna be SOMETHING. I got people to care for, I gotta make myself better. 

Benji: So then why a pebble? Why that specific analogy?

J.: You know man (pauses for a few seconds, stroking his chin)… I wanna make something that LASTS. And in every story you read — Noah’s Ark even “Fields of Dreams” man — you know that? “Build it and they will come?”

Benji: Definitely; I’m very much a baseball fan.

J.: Oh cool, man, cool. :laughs: yeah haha, baseball’s about all you got, white skinnyass motherf****r.

Benji: Thank you for pointing that out. My boyf — er, I hear that often.

J. All right man, all right. But I look at it like this: pebbles build up, right? Eventually that shit is a rock and a big f***ing one at that, like where to the point you can barely move it. And hear me out on this okay — that’s on? right? you’re recording this?

Benji: Most definitely.

J.: You take some big brawny-ass m********er who knows what he’s doing and say “make me a stone out of this.” And you do something for him or something, I don’t know, I’m not a scholar man.

Benji: All good. I’m following.

J.: And you take this stone that started with that little pebble you had saved up, and then you go and build something. I’m talking something tall, strong, lasts through the years, storms, battles, whatever. That’s how you’ve gotta feel man. What you got — and what I try to put in my rhymes is my own little pebble but also to say “yo, your little pebble can be something more if you just let yoself be yoself.” 

Benji: That’s a really interesting analogy, J., and I’m glad you’ve been able to explore that through your work. Going from here, do have any idea where your music is headed? What your next album might explore? 

J.: (laughs) Yeah, man. I got a cornerstone but I ain’t got no house. Now I need to figure out where to put the damn thing.

(more with the acclaimed hip-hop artist and activist J. Preston Mitchell to come later. Please remember to follow me @destroy_time)

~ by Benji on October 31, 2013.

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