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On the “Paper Chase” with JD Era [Interview]

JD Era

Mississauga, ON – It was approximately 3 years ago when Joseph “JD Era” Dako established himself as one of the premier young artists to look out for in Canada. Although relatively new to the “gossip” element of fan admiration, the sudden burst of commentary following his movement came with just cause. As we prepare to enter 2008, Era has only stepped things up further and built a solid family environment that he can lean on for support (read: Black Market!).

From highly acclaimed mixtape contributions, to various battles and an onslaught of live performances, Era has focusing heavily on building a foundation of interest for his album debut which is still in the creation process. He’s just recently dropped the latest installment of his Black Market Mixtape series, Cold War, and he’s got a strong grasp on Canada’s mixtape circuit through the strong relationships he has developed with Canadian DJs – DJs who know JD Era has become a fan favourite in an extremely short period of time. His video debut, “Paper Chase” was well received and the single has received rotation on commercial and University circuits alike.

If he’s been able to accomplish this much in 3 years, one can only imagine what he’ll have been able to accomplish after getting a decade under his belt.

He’s highly sought after for collaborations by fellow artists within the Canadian scene and has become known for his high-energy gigs and stage presence that draws comparison to Kardinal concerts during his Firestarter Volume 1 tour – tear the roof down energy! He’s an artist that has embraced the importance of interacting with the fans and putting everything out there, front and centre. In his own words, “I love performing! I think it’s one of my strengths and one of the reasons that I’ve been successful to this point.” He has yet to tour the country but he has opened for a variety of big names and taken part in all kinds of events – establishing a reputation amongst promoters as a benefit to any hip-hop show going down. In November alone, Era performed at 2 different HipHopCanada events – the 2007 Importfest Showcase and the OneMatch Launch Party in Toronto, an event based on attracting new stem cell donors to Canada’s National Stem Cell & Marrow – not to mention any of the other shows he did in the same month.

JD Era has high goals for his participation in hip-hop but is no stranger to the fact that Canadian artists, in general, don’t have the best track record for retail turn around. What sets him apart from many is the time and effort he has put into building a fan base who watch his game plan like John Madden on an NFL Sunday. Not to mention the fact that his plan B has almost come to fruition: earning a University degree.

So with Cold War recently hitting the streets and his album close to completion, fans are keeping an ear open for any inkling of info related to it’s release and of course, keeping very close watch on his always active performance schedule. Be sure to stay tuned to HipHopCanada for information on both. On yeah, it’s about time you got rid of that Soulja Boy ringtone and went local with it – the “Paper Chase” ringtone is available through all the major outlets! Era was kind of enough to pull away from his busy schedule for an interview with HipHopCanada. Here’s how things went down:

HipHopCanada: Peace JD Era, good to have you here on Last time we did an interview was 2005 and at the time you were affiliated with Soul Clap Records? Let’s start with that situation. Can you bring us up to speed on where things stand with Soul Clap and if they will still be releasing your album debut?

JD Era: It’s been a while for real! The whole Soul Clap situation didn’t really work out. It was good while it lasted. I thought that I was ready to release an album at the time and when I look back, I’m really happy I didn’t. I was never actually signed to the label; I was just the annoying rapper that was always around at the studio sessions. Eventually they took notice to my music and wanted to do a deal, but by then we weren’t speaking the same language. Right now, as it stands, the project’s coming out through Black Market Music Group. It’s most likely going to be a joint venture deal. Got a lot of options out there.

HipHopCanada: Ok, let’s take it back a bit to get more in-depth on the history side of things. The last time you were in the hot seat, you let us know that you had been heavily into music since you were very young, going from house into hip-hop, but we didn’t get a very clear understanding of why you gravitated to music so strongly. Is there a lot of music influence in your family? What made rapping your calling in life?

JD Era: It was just one of those natural things. Me doing the “battle thing” got me comfortable in front of crowds and helped me craft my flow. I’m still fairly new to the writing process, and that’s why I spent time developing around the guys at Soul Clap. I’ve been writing since about 2002 so I’m still learning a lot of techniques. I wouldn’t really say it’s my calling in life, but I knew it was something I wouldn’t mind taking a shot at. I almost got my degree so I don’t need rap. And my family is the furthest thing in the world from musical. [Laughing] But they’re very supportive.

HipHopCanada: Before we focus on your new mixtape and upcoming album release, I’d like to discuss your crew, the Black Market Gang. How did you guys come together? Who are the key players involved?

JD Era: Black Market, like a lot of teams, is a family for me. Just guys that I grew up with that I trust and would do anything for. The team is deep, but the people that you’ll hear about the most are Major, Spinz, Fa$e, Jonny Roxx, Sirmac, and my DJ T.Lo. Spinz is about to be the best producer in the country and I feel like Roxx has enough talent and charisma to be a serious problem. It’s just about creating the right records. I’m not going to call it a movement like every other camp, but my team is definitely doing their thing.

HipHopCanada: Any entertaining Black Market memories to share with us? Perhaps a studio session that took an unexpected twist? Or a road trip story?

JD Era: [Laughing] Most of the stories I have go downhill quickly. In all honesty most of the good stories I have, no one else would think is funny. So nope!

HipHopCanada: What about the Wise Guys? How did that come to be?

JD Era: I don’t even know how the whole Wise Guys thing came about. I think it may have started here on HipHopCanada. That’s myself, Young Tony, Bishop Brigante, Jonny Roxx, Ken Masters, and Drake. Those guys were moreso people in the industry that I naturally kick it with. We’ve started recording for the project, and at the end of my mixtape there’s a little something for people looking out for the Wise Guys project . Who chose that name? [Laughing] It’s whatever. Some good music is on the way though.

HipHopCanada: Ok, let’s get down to business. Your highly anticipated follow-up to the Black Market Mixtape Volume 1 has recently been released. Tell us about The Cold War Mixtape and what people should expect from it in terms of concept, production and guest appearances.

JD Era: Yes, sir! The Cold War tape came about from joints that I just happened to be recording. I’m in the studio all day so it was some tracks that weren’t going to make the album and some dubs that I had fun with. I got my homey Superstar Jay to host it, and to show people it was official we brought him down for the release party. Party was crazy; I think you can YouTube the last one. I was good and drunk the whole way through. Also on the mixtape, I got Lex from Ryan Leslie’s Next Selection label, Drake, Jonny Roxx, but the majority of it is me. I hate doing features because rappers take forever to get you their verses.

HipHopCanada: “Paper Chase” was your first single which was accompanied with a video directed by David Fradkin. How did you link with David for the video and what had you hoped to accomplish with it?

JD Era: I gotta thank David and his whole team for shooting that video. We shot it so last minute most people wouldn’t believe me. I think I met David after he connected with my manager Major and the rest is history. I definitely didn’t expect the video to do so well but the response has been amazing because people have really taken a liking to the song. I need people to vote for that thing any and everywhere they can!! I think it peaked at number two, so it’s been a blessing.

HipHopCanada: Will there be another video dropping any time in support of the Cold War release?

JD Era: We started shooting for “High Stakes”, produced by Davenport so hopefully we can get that thing done ASAP, but right now my main focus is the album and figuring out how to manipulate the good people at Factor to give me some free money. I keep that money coming in but these damn videos ain’t cheap!

HipHopCanada: [Laughing] Time to discuss the big project: the long-anticipated album debut from JD Era. Can you give us a name for the project to begin with? I know you had posted a message in the community asking for people’s opinions but you had also stated the title had already been selected. So let’s ask an easy one – what message are you trying to get across with the title?

JD Era: It looks like the album is going to be called Coming To America. It’s between that and another name. That message board shit was hilarious – I got a lot of interesting feedback. It was moreso because I was bored and curious to see what other people would call it. I’m calling it Coming To America because Ro Dolla is using the whole Hollywood North theme and it works for one of my surprises in ’08. I think the message is self-explanatory.

HipHopCanada: What can we expect from the album? Producers? Guest appearances?

JD Era: The album is going to be dope! I’m really excited to show people what I’ve been working on for the last 6 months. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the music that they’re hearing is usually months, and in some cases, years old. So I’m a lot better than whatever material people have been hearing. I think it has a good range. I’m about 70% finished. I’ve got Spinz doing a lot of it, but I’m still in the process of reaching out to a couple producers. I got some beats from Classified, Blunt, Boi-1da, Fever, the world famous Dub J, and a bunch of other people. As for appearances, I’d rather not salt it by telling people. More fun when it’s album time.

HipHopCanada: What will the lead off single be?

JD Era: Right now it looks like the first record we’re sending to radio as the buzz single is going to be a song called “Era What’s Good”, but you know how things change. I’m going to take a backseat for a minute until the album is complete and all the paperwork is finalized… so rappers — get your radio spins in while you can.

HipHopCanada: Even if it’s not all set in stone at this point, can you give us an idea of when the project will be released and how you’ll go about releasing it?

JD Era: I’ll probably do a mixtape, free for download, before the album. I think mixtapes have been really important for keeping my buzz strong. And I record so much, it’s like, why not release product often? As for the album, the marketing for it is on point. I’ve just been watching other people’s releases and learning from their mistakes. I know I’m bound to make a couple of my own, but I’ve got a couple ideas that I think are going to help get it out. Not to mention I do more shows than a lot of these guys so I’m definitely going to be on a large tour of some sort. Or me and the team are hitting the road ourselves, like a rock band.

HipHopCanada: What’s your take on the state of Canadian hip-hop? It’s a common question but it’s always interesting to see things from the artist’s perspective. Do you have any goals in place in terms of the amount of units you are aiming to sell?

JD Era: I think I’ve been able to witness Canadian hip-hop get a lot more respect from our own people. I think some of the artists that came before me were doing their thing but lacked a strong next generation of artists to help them capitalize. Right now you have a lot of great artists with bad business sense, but it seems like people are starting to smarten up. It’s all trial and error. Every artist obviously wants to sell a million records and do the MTV cribs thing, but I’m realistic. I’m happy if people receive the album well. I don’t need rap to survive; I’m going to have a degree at the end of 08′. Fuck rap! [Laughing]

Written by Jesse “Dutchy” Plunkett for HipHopCanada

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Jesse Plunkett

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