Electronic Jack, also known as the Suicide Poet is an alternative Hip-Hop MC, director, voice actor, producer, game programmer, revolutionist, self-proclaimed genius, artist, body-builder, writer and professional checkers player. Born in V.A., and raised in N.C., he is best known for being the founder of the alternative rap movement “Ultimate Mecha.” Check out the interview we did with Electronic Jack below!
Entertwine: You write, rap, and produce, as well as program video games, direct music videos, and record voiceovers; how are you able to find the motivation to work on so many crafts at once?
I just love staying busy. Haha. But I consider each skill intertwined with one another. I was introduced to hip hop and rap music through the soundtracks of video games I pretty much grew up with such as The Need for Speed, Tony Hawk, Fight Night and Grand Theft Auto series. Luckily I was exposed to a vary of different styles and that helped me develop my own sonically.
I actually don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t love writing so much. I remember being in Elementry School and writing fan fiction to N64 games while I waited for everybody else to finish their work. Telling a story with mainly words has always intrigued me because I grew up with parents that always pushed reading so much. At a point of my life, I move on from novels to comic books because of the visuals. That became my addiction along with gaming.
As far as recording voice overs are concerned, I’m a big fan of cartoons. Even now you have some good ones out there but they seem to be few and far between. Seeing myself a part of an animation and voicing a character just sounds fun, to be honest. I started off doing Machinimas with a crappy ass headset microphone when I was 14-15 and once I got into recording music professionally I continued voice acting as a profitable side gig.
This all leads into directing music videos because I’m a big movie buff too. I’ve been called the “Quentin Tarantino of Rap” because I take all of my influences and showcase them in my visuals. I find it’s always best to pay homage because as they say, “Everything is a Remix”.
Could you tell us a bit about your musical background?
I’ve always said if it sounds good, I can jive to it. I love Hip Hop, Jazz, Blues, Ragtime, Rock, Funk and even pop music. However I chose to be a rapper, even though I hate the term now, because it’s a platform that allows me to express myself and can pretty much be mixed with any type of genre to form something creative and new.
When I first started rapping, it was for fun, really, but then I used it as a way to escape what was going on in my life or to discuss it without flipping out as I had anger issues in the past. I’ve had people criticize my art without even trying to understand it because of the exaggerated way I portray myself and others in situations when I write my lyrics. I’ve come under flack for speaking on a lot of different subjects through dark humor or for mentioning events that have make people uncomfortable.
In a way, I want that. I want people to be able to discuss what’s being said. If a song doesn’t elicit some type of emotion from the listener, whether positive or negative and hits home while doing so, I’m not doing my job. I truly believe I can teach others from my own experiences, mindset and interests. I don’t try to be right, wrong or politically correct. I just want everyone not to be afraid of being who they are and improving.
What is the significance of your monikers?
I call myself Electronic Jack because I’m what it takes to make a mic work right. Haha. I use the alias when I’m being crazy and nuts. When I’m writing as the Suicide Poet, I typically take a step back, evaluate my life it put it into words that can better connect with those likeminded. Never in my life have I been suicidal! Take a break from the daily routine? Sure, but the Suicide Poet represents someone who’s not afraid to speak what’s on his mind, even if others will crucify him for his thoughts.
What experiences and events inspired the writing and recording of your debut album “Second Sight”? Could you walk us through each of the featured tracks?
Well this’ll be fun. The first track “Summary” was just going to be me spitting about my life, revolving around nostalgia and what not. That’s why you’ll hear me mention Disney Channel and a few folks I used to program games with back in the day. I wrote about 6 minutes, which I “summarized” into 3 which became just one verse because I wanted to include a track with Trozmizy and Ashep on the album. You’ll hear the Xbox sound in the beginning since I wanted the feel of the track to reminiscence when your homies would come over, play video games and just freestyle about themselves.
“Homegrown” was a track that I’m surprised a lot of people liked. I hit TOTA up for a chorus on that one because I liked her whole style. It’s unusual and abstract like when I flow. We even shot a little video for it as well. I’m happy the way it turned out but I would have done things a bit differently now because I have a bit more experience as far as producing music movies.
“Neoh” was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to tell a story over a semi west coast instrumental. I just spazzed on the track and let the single sit until I had another single that I could connect it to. Before I put it out I sampled my friend Colton for the intro. You can actually hear him listen to Eminem if you pay close attention.
I wanted “Shinanigans” to be a sequel to Neoh. The protagonist is pretty much on the run but I infuse a lot of references within the lines in order to paint a vivid picture of what I wanted the listener to imagine when they did their research. Makes me glad that RapGenius.com exist.
I never knew “Fourth Echelon” would turn out to be such a fantastic track. It’s mixed like a rock n’ roll song but I’m a bit erratic during the verses because I did each in one take. I consider it the polar opposite to Shinanigans because of it’s style and the fact that the lyrics don’t take itself to seriously.
I sampled a quote from John Woo’s “The Killer” and had my friend Nea provide soft vocals for the chorus of the track “Dark Jedi”. Jaygo hit me up for the second verse so it’s like a reunion since we did PS3 in the Back and this is the first track of mine Bee spit on. Her verse is actually a very raw recording. I wanted to keep the essence of the quality because it contributed to her overall presence and charisma on the song.
Another insane track similar Fourth Echelon that I had in storage. I felt Bee would be perfect for it because we both had that out-the-box style working for us on beats such as this one. “ULTIMATE” takes a lot of breath control for me to perform live but DJs help out and so do the crowd.
“At the Drive-In” was something for the ladies… The story details the protagonist taking his spoiled girlfriend to the Drive-In. This is the only track where I’m really singing on. Redd Horrocks provided the voice of the female and a Family Guy skit was sampled near the end of the song to bring together the context of everything.
Once again, I utilize Redd Horrocks, and this time it’s for the spoken word verse on this single titled “Nosebleed”. I brought back my old New York battling style so I could pull off some lines that many would find tricky to do so.
Last but not least, my most critically acclaimed track on the album “Introvert Freestyle”. No chorus. Just me spitting over an abstract beat and connecting words together like a fiend. I sampled a fitting Genghis Khan quote from one of my favorite movies “Blood and Bone” for the beginning of this track. The rest is history.
I would say just living and my extreme thoughts inspired the album. You’ll find lines that are callbacks to TV Shows, Movies, Cartoons and Video Games that I’ve watched. Bits and pieces of stories mixed with fiction in rhymes and braggadocious lyrics keying in lessons from Hip Hop veterans.
What can you tell us about your “Ultimate Mecha” movement?
The Ultimate Mecha movement is just about being yourself and allowing your mind to grow without feeling pressured by peers, trends, and those that wish to see you succumb due to their own lack of security. We all have each other’s backs here.
Could you tell us about some of the music videos you’ve directed and done animation work for (including the videos for ‘Shinanigans’ and ‘Fourth Echelon’)?
Animatzione, an animated studio in India and I worked very closely on the videos for Fourth Echelon and Shinanigans. I consider them all in one universe. A lot of music videos out today are pretty simplistic. Guns, cars, drugs, girls, and jewels. That stuff bores me and I compare videos like that to direct to dvd flicks.
I aim to be creative and limitless with the influences in each of my videos. Fourth Echelon takes us back to the old school cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, Invader Zim, etc. Shinanigans, I went a bit into the asian action/adventure influenced territory with homage to animes as well.
With Summary I actually just dug into a box of old PC games, found a copy of ‘The Movies’, and edit scenes from the gameplay to create a music video. For Homegrown, TOTA and I shot our scenes separately and I did the post production. Jean Grae’s Kill Screen was a neat inspiration for how I approached it.
What does 2015 hold in store for Electronic Jack?
I’m working on a project titled “Liar’s Kiss”. I’m not sure whether it will be an EP or an album. I don’t like filler tracks so I’m planning it carefully. After that will definitely come an album under construction as “King Ghidorah”. All in all, plan for 2015 to be Ultmate Mecha’s year. We have a lot in store for the audience and we’re not just doing music anymore. No barriers. Haha.