Checking In: J Soulja Recalibrates

Native ATX MC eases into summer with steamy street reality

Locals’ tendency to characterize Austin as a “town” means dire issues of an urban metropolis keep getting kicked down the road. Not true of the brand new album by J Soulja (Jalen Howard), From the Soul, whose smooth flow captures modern ATX starting on Dirty Sixth (opener “The Way”), where street documentarians like he and the Teeta preach “Money Sermons.”

J Soulja shelters (Photo by Valerie Salas)

Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?

J Soulja: I’m sheltering by myself at my apartment, just working out and writing. I’ve been doing some livestreaming with my DJ, as well occasionally [playing out] before the new spike in cases. Just staying with my consistent schedule.

AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?

JS: SXSW. I had my own event that I curated along with performances I was booked for. Once SXSW cancelled, I knew my main source of income – doing live shows – was out the door. I had to recalibrate and redirect my entire roll out for the year with the pandemic taking place.

“My soundtrack for the apocalypse would probably be ‘Immortal’ by Kid Cudi, lol.”

AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?

JS: Austin thrives on community interaction. Economically, it can have a terrible impact with us not having access to live events. With the climate we’re in politically alongside the pandemic taking place, I believe there will be a huge flux in how we can regather and approach having lucrative events for artists and promoters. It’s a lot to take in.

AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?

JS: I’ve been innovative with my approach honestly, just thinking outside the box and finding different ways to connect with my audience. DJ Napalm and I have been doing a lot of livestreaming, as well as curating digital content to push to our peers.

AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?

JS: My soundtrack for the apocalypse would probably be “Immortal” by Kid Cudi, lol. I think music is such a release of pure and organic emotion, just a flow of energy. To articulate your feelings through songs and melodies is therapeutic and one of the most important assets in our existence.

Shelter essentials (Photo by Valerie Salas)

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More J Soulja
Gotta <I>Pre-Roll</I> Before You <I>Smoke Out</I>
Gotta Pre-Roll Before You Smoke Out
Driven MC J Soulja wants to give Austin hip-hop artists a space to tap in

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J Soulja, Jalen Howard, From the Soul, Teeta, Kid Cudi, Checking In 2020

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