At a park in Lakewood, David Jones can barely have a minute to himself without catching up with the constant stream of people who recognize him. It's a weekday evening, but the grounds are crowded like Saturday afternoon, and within minutes Jones amasses a small huddle of people around him. The attention isn't even for the fact that, as Jetpack Jones, he's become one of the city's few rising rappers. This is where he was raised, and he doesn't need to have blog buzz to make connections. “I'm just a chill ass dude,” he jokes.
To the digital world outside of Lakewood, Jones has started to receive acclaim and assemble a respectable fanbase as a rapper. He hasn't become known for the usual gangsta rap proclamations expected of a West Coast rapper, nor does he fits into the latest LA indie trend. He takes a tranquil, melodic approach to his music that turns his quip into being a “chill ass dude” into actual, concrete fact.
His listening tastes growing up were an amalgam of old and new. There were the big radio songs (Lil Bow Wow's debut was the first album he ever bought), the jazz and soul classics his parents listened to, and of course Tupac was thrown in for good measure. However, even as a child Jones always felt a stronger connection to music made years before he even entered the world. “I listened to a lot of stuff that was before my time more than I did newer stuff,” he says.
When it came to hip-hop, Jones initially preferred just turning on the radio, but that quickly changed. “I wanted to see what else was out there,” he says. “I started really exploring hip-hop and then finding my favorite artists. It was kind of a backwards things for me; I started and age eleven and went forward to new shit, then going backwards to stuff I missed out on as a kid.”
What he missed out on later became acts that influence and inspire him, such as bay area heroes Souls of Mischief. In between acts like Souls of Mischief and the jazz he found an affinity for, Jones discovered himself as a creator as opposed to a listener.
“I kind of just started making music. I can't even point out a time or day where that was the start of music. I just started,” he remarks.
Since starting up his current term in rap, Jetpack Jones has had several releases, his biggest to date being Beyond Infinity and this week's release, Third Eye Initiative. Both show his penchant for melodies and from-the-heart songwriting, not just for spitting bars. He even titles himself a “hybrid,” and is constantly mindful of the musicality of what's he creating.
“I feel like the music I'm trying to make is something you cant play anytime; just timeless. You can play it as a high school or college kid and you can listen to it when you're forty and have a family. That's the stuff I'm trying to make. I don't feel any type of pressure to make anything, I just make what I feel like. When you bring something new and it's honest, when you're coming from a real place, people can tell.”
Jones isn't concerned about labels or how things “should sound” in order to build buzz, he just wants to be able to live comfortably and build his sphere of influence. He's inspired by the career arc and mindset of those like the Neptunes hitmaker Pharrell, and simply wants to express himself as he sees fit.
“If my sound is adaptable to the mainstream and everything like that, then great. If not, I'm not going to change it. If I'm doing it for somebody else it defeats the whole purpose of why I'm doing music to begin with. It's me coping with life. It's not a job, it's just what I do. Some people skateboard, some people tattoo, some paint, I just do music.”
Download Jetpack Jones' new mixtape “The Third Eye Initiative” here