Friday, August 31, 2012
"Spotlight" Artist J. Irja
The first thing you notice about J. Irja is that she carries herself as an artist. Perhaps it is the “Spotlight” tattoo on the left side of her head, homage to her entertainment company, Spotlight Entertainment. It could be the surgically enhanced breasts she recently had done, that, judging from the reaction to her outfit at a recent show, are “carrying” themselves on their own.Either way, hip hop artist J. Irja, be it with her music, or her appearance, or perhaps a combination of both, wants you to know she is here to do her thing, her way. And she doesn’t give a damn if you agree.
With the new single “Blessed With The Curse” and identically titled upcoming mix tape, Irja looks to take her talents to a whole new level, while trying to increase the respect for the hip hop community in the Fox Valley area.
The 24 year old Irja, which means ‘earth worker’ in Finnish, seems to be hell-bent making her own rules in the hip hop game. According to her Reverb Nation page, “100% of my lyrics are original, and I am proud to display my intricate wordplay and quirky personality throughout my creations.” But that intricate wordplay wasn’t always on display.
“She’s a beast. And she was persistent,” said Spotlight CEO Reginald ‘P-Nice Roll da Dice’ Parham. “I started Spotlight in ’06. We had a studio on College Ave. in Appleton. She would come through, and I remember the first time she came through, she battled everybody. And I didn’t know who she was and I was like ‘this little chick is nuts.’ It took a lot of heart.”
When asked if she held her own in the battles, the answer was quick and decisive.
“No. My team was nice, all of them could spit. But that’s not the point. The point was she actually tried. I didn’t know any chick that would even do that,” P-Nice said. “Two years later, I saw her again, and she told me she was rapping, and I kinda blew her off. I saw her again this year, and she had some songs, and saw that she was serious.”
P-Nice feels that Irja has the ability to reach many people.
“She definitely has a story to tell. And a lot of females are going to come out and they are going to embrace her,” said the CEO. “A lot of us in general are insecure about who we really are and the things we been through in life. She puts it on the line. For her to do the things she does and say the things she says, a lot of people are going to be like ‘Man. I’ve been wanting to say that all my life.’”
When did you fall in love with music?
I have always loved music in general. I have been singing since I was three years old. That was my first time performing when I was three, I sang at a family wedding. I really fell in love with hip-hop at 16 when I truly got into the culture of it and actually found out more about music and fell in love with different artists especially Tupac. He was huge influence.
What do you want people to hear in YOUR music?
I want people to hear my story, because it’s something they have never heard before. I want to give people that don’t have a voice a voice. ‘Like yeah, I feel her.’
What is your story?
My story is about progression and triumphing over any tribulations that I run into. I have had so many times that I have been knocked down but always get back up. It’s about perseverance. If I could sum it up in one word, it would be perseverance.
Who are your musical influences?
Rick Ross is huge right now. He is making some serious moves in the industry. Also, eminem, Lil Kim, TLC and of course Tupac.
You are making a mix tape of your all time favorite songs. What is the FIRST song on it and why?
Lil Wayne, Mirror. It really describes how Lil Wayne is his own worst enemy, you know what I mean? Mirror really breaks down the turmoil and the chaos inside, and he really just puts it out there on the track; I love it. I can really relate to it.
Best performance you ever gave.
AT OB’s Brauhaus a couple weeks ago. It was amazing because people knew my words and I was into the crowd. The energy, on a scale of 1-10, was 100. It was just amazing.
Worst performance you ever gave.
That would have to be my first headliner show at Cue in Appleton. I tried to run too fast, and I needed a little bit more guidance than I realized. I tried to do the show too early, and by the time my opening act got done, nobody was there (laughing), but I still got up on stage anyways.
What are the good things, in your mind, about the music scene in this area?
There is a lot of talent artists around here. When I really started listening to people’s music, there is a LOT of talent artists around here.
What are some of the things that could be improved?
I think this area needs to embrace its hip hop community. We’re not gonna go away. You need to start embracing us and figure out solutions to the issues that are going on at the venues and not just shutting them down. Cause we are just going to move somewhere else.
IF you were boss of the music scene, what would you do to fix it?
Start having meetings where everyone can sit and be heard and not just take shots at each other. Just like they did down in Madison. Shah Evans has done a lot of things down in Madison that are really impressive. He spoke with the community and the police and everything and I think that if we adopted that principal up here, I think it would be really effective. We could have a place where we could go and celebrate the hip-hop community.
One song that describes your life.
My intro to my mix tape, Blessed with The Curse. It really gives you a very, very brief synopsis of how I got where I am.
One artist alive or dead, that you would want to do a song with?
Definitely Tupac and Rick Ross.
What was your first concert?
Believe it or not, it was a rock concert. I saw Cold, Dope and Flaw in concert. Won tickets on the radio. It was my first live concert.
How did you get here from Timmins, Ontario, Canada?
I moved around a lot when I was a kid. All around Canada I finally moved here and started going to school here. Graduated High School early and moved all around the Midwest. Trying to find where I fit in.
My favorite line in Blessed with a Curse is “little white girl but I’m not afraid”. IS that how you feel in this business?
Yeah. I came all the way from the bottom of the bottom of the bottom. You will see that as keep releasing more songs and mix tapes you are going to see my story progress and learn more about me. I really came from nothing. Nothing. NOTHING.
What gives you the confidence to grab the mic and step up on stage? Especially in hip hop, a very male dominated genre?
I have to do it. So people like me can I have a voice. I have to break that barrier. I just feel that this is what God put me here to do, and I am going to do it.