Catching Up with Jéan P

Story by Shannon Miranda | Photo by Mackenzie Cottingham

For Jéan P, being accepted back into OU was a blessing. Over the past year while not in school, Jéan’s son, Amir, was born and his whole life changed. Now, he’s preparing to come back to school, as his most recent headlining gig at OU Hip-Hopalooza 3 highlighted his Athens return. Backdrop caught up with Jéan at the show to talk Hip-Hopalooza, upcoming projects and his feelings about not getting to perform at 8Fest.

Backdrop Magazine: What is OU Hip-Hopalooza 3 all about?

Jéan: The collaboration came about, honestly, and this might be controversial, but I’ve been at OU for three years, and I have always tried to be on 8Fest. I’ve never been on 8Fest. I was never picked. So one day, I was like “man, fuck 8Fest, or whatever number fest it is.” Chris Summers was like, “Well, let’s just make our own.” That’s a good idea. So we had our own little concert, our own little festival with our own people, all for a good cause. That’s what’s up. Not to rip 8Fest, but we came together and did our own thing. I’ve been doing my thing at OU for a long time and everybody that knows me knows that. I’ve put in a lot of work already and

earned a lot of respect here. The fact that I was never picked for 8Fest, ever, was kind of like a blow to my face. Like, damn. If anyone should have been at 8Fest, you know, it should have been me. But basically, Chris and I put it [OU Hip-Hopalooza 3] together, we picked performers and all proceeds go to charity [Goodworks]. We just tried to put a good show together for people.

BM: How was the turn out? Do you know how much money was raised for Goodworks?

Jéan: OU Hip-Hopalooza 3 was an excellent turnout. All of the performers did very well and the energy was amazing. I can't share the amount we made, but GoodWorks was pleased.

BM: How was it to be back in Athens?

Jéan:  Man, it felt so good to be back in Athens. I also got a chance to speak to some of my advisors, so it made me feel better getting back into being a student. I love the vibe of Athens. Besides the fact that it's a college town, it's a beautiful place. Spending time with my son, my girl and my homies was something that I didn't want to forget. Hell, I even got "OU wasted.”

Shannon: How do you feel about coming back to school during winter quarter?

Jéan: Coming back to OU was probably one of the biggest second chances I ever received. I learned a lot this past year not being in school and I admit it wasn't fun. It had its up and downs but overall the world is not easy without an education. It took me a few months of working a minimum wage job to realize how much I messed up.  I was doing the music but if it weren’t for me working that would be all I had to depend on. I'd honestly rather be walking into a classroom then walking into work putting clothes away. God kept me through and made me strong to survive and blessed me with still having the access to make music and motivating me to go back to school.

BM: What essential goals do you have right now?

Jéan: Get back into school and make more music before I go back. Little stuff, like get back in shape, read more, and get more stuff for my son. I am trying to get all of the music out of me now, because when I come back [to OU], I’m going to be about my work. I don’t want to get all caught up in my music. I also want to buy this music equipment, called a machine, for my studio, so I am saving up money for that.

BM: How has your son, Amir, changed your life?

Jéan: Amir was the one that made the year awesome for me. If it wasn’t for Amir’s song, I don’t know what I would be doing as far as music. I’ve gained a lot more respect from people for me. Being a father and stuff, it is really weird for me to say I’m a dad now, but it is probably one of the coolest things in the world. He’s a blessing. A lot of people say, “Oh, you have a kid?” Hey, shit happens. When they’re here, you have to make the best of it. I don’t regret it at all.

BM: How do your family and friends feel about how your life is changing?

Jéan: My friends are happy for me. My family is happy for me. I’m even shocked at the things I have accomplished. I just remember talking about it—talking about people knowing our names and people knowing my music. It is finally coming. It is finally happening. I may be underground, but the fact that people know me, that is the coolest thing in the world. I don’t let it go to my head at all either. Every time someone tells me that they like my songs, it is a blessing because I know I am doing something for that person’s life. I don’t want to make music to be famous—I want to make music so people will know my story, my talent, so that I can touch people. I am just happy with what I have accomplished and know that there is more to come down the line. I’m just waiting to see what happens next. I know that something good is going to happen for me. I don’t know when. I don’t know where. I don’t know how. But, I know it will happen if I just keep doing what I’m doing, so I’m not even worried.

BM: What is the story behind the video and song “Can’t Help Myself?”

Jéan: The music video came about because I told Max Rodriguez with CreMedia about the Hip-Hop Showcase I had back in July here in Canton. He said he wanted to come down and get some footage of me. Instead of shooting a music video, we shot a documentary since we were in my hometown and I want people to know where I’m from. They [CreMedia] came out here, we shot a music video and shot a little documentary. The title, “Can’t Help Myself,” comes from the fact that I can only do so much as an artist. It takes the support of people to help me. “It takes a village to raise a child.” Canton made me the artist that I am. At any performance, you see a lot of my family and a lot of my friends. I’m so proud of that video. I remember the first time I saw it I was crying. I was so shocked. It was crazy to see a video about myself. This whole past year, not being in school and everything, has really made me question my future. The part that I can still do music is probably one of the biggest blessings I’ve had and I have my studio in Canton now, too.

BM: What are you working on next?

Jéan: I recently finished my website, I’m also working on my ninth project, Opposites Attract. It was executive produced by Lakim Bryant. That album came about on accident. He sent me beats when I was recording last year and his beats were so good. I came to Lakim and said we should do an album together. He sent me whole bunch of beats through email and I recorded the album. What’s crazy is that we never met each other. It is 16 tracks and it comes out November 22. I’m ready for another good year. I just released a song called “Intergalactic” for the album and I will be dropping another single for it next week. I’m working on the music video at the moment. There are a lot of things in store before I get back to school in January.

BM: How does Opposites Attract compare to your other projects?

Jéan: It is like an upgrade in my style and the production. The production is kind of like what I always wanted. This is more like, “Okay, I am out of the funk I was in [in Will Rap for Food] and I’m back to where I need to be—I’m happy.” It is still good hip-hop. There are different ranges, topics and concepts. There are songs about childhood, songs about teen pregnancy, songs about meeting a girl and hooking up. It is just me being me.

BM: Where do you see yourself in a year?

Jéan: In one year, I see myself in school, trying to finish my degree. I see myself more advanced in hip-hop. More people will know me, more fans, more music. Bigger things. I just know that with time, from where I started to where I’m at now, bigger things are sure to come. So, I see myself higher than where I am at now.

BM: Is there anyone in particular that you would want to work with?

Jéan: Braxton Howell from Marion, Ohio. He has a funny title for his mixtape. It is called “Bad Bitches and Ice Cream.” That is why I like him—because he is doing something different. He isn’t doing the cliché album title. He is being himself.

BM: If you were asked to perform at 9Fest, would you do it, or would you say no and do your own thing?

Jéan: I’d definitely do 9Fest. I’m not even going to lie to you. The reason I was upset was because I had been at OU for three years and I wasn’t even considered. It upset me, but I can’t even be mad because that isn’t the only concert in the world. If I were asked to perform at 9Fest, my ass would be on stage. I’m not even going to front. If they ask me to be at 9Fest, you’ll see me at 9Fest.