If the recent JJ DOOM remixes and tidbits announcing the forthcoming Keys To The Kuff (Butter Edition) have only got you feenin’ for more original music from the multi-talented Jneiro Jarel…then, we got some good news for you. Okayplayer is extremely amped to break the news that the producer/rapper/composer/DJ/multi-instrumentalist will be joining forces with Philly’s own Ropeadope Records (you may know them for releasing key King Britt material, not to mention the Questlove-led trio The Philadelphia Experiment) on a new imprint called Label Who. which will release “a variety of new music projects under the Ropeadope umbrella of artist support, digital strategy, and distribution.” As Ropeadope boss Louis Marks put it:
“We are excited about this collaboration…Jneiro is a musical explorer that we would follow to the ends of the universe and Label Who is an expression of his exploration as an artist and a producer. The collaboration also marks the development of a new era for Ropeadope, as we expand our role from indie label to artist support agency. Our role is to tend to the connective tissue that brings artists together, and connects fans with the music they love. This approach allows for full creativity and direct connection to listeners.”
When it comes to Jneiro, however, a “variety of music projects” could mean a whooole lot of things, from “Rhymin Slang” to a barbershop quartet with Damon Albarn, Tunde Adebimpe and Khujo Goodie filling in the other parts. We decided we need to get the straight, um, dope from JJ himself. Accordingly we chopped it up with Jarel in a quick Q&A to get the full story. By the time we were done, the full story included a chance to hear the very first release from the new Label Who imprint–“Ohh Bay!!! (Oh Baby)” by JJ Burton, a new power trio comprising Jneiro, Scott Burton and Reginald Pace of Bon Iver (!) Read below for all the details–and scroll down to stream JJ Burton – “Ohh Bay!!! (Oh Baby)” in full.
Okayplayer: How did this collaborative label project with Ropedope come about?
Jneiro Jarel: I’ve been running Label Who since 2004 and I’ve had a working relationship with Ropeadope since then. They picked up my album Three Piece Puzzle for US distribution in 2005 so, I know those guys over there pretty well. At that time I really wasn’t able to focus on Label Who as much as I would’ve liked. I had some interesting prospects, even then, but I couldn’t focus on them because I had a 5-album deal with Lex Records that had me pretty consumed. I’ve done some releases independent of Lex, throughout the years, but never really put a real big push behind them. I’ve been toying around with the idea of revamping my label for a while, and really getting a team behind it that I can vibe with.
OKP: Can’t help but notice the new JJ DOOM material is coming out on Lex records…what sorts of releases can we expect on Label Who? Is it an outlet specifically for one style or aspect of your work?
JJ: The first release on Label Who is JJ Burton’s project. That’s guitarist Scott Burton and multi-instrumentalist Reginald Pace of Bon Iver. It’s more of a melodic approach. Gone The Hero is also releasing with us; he’s currently featured on the new ‘Butter Edition’ of Key to the Kuffs. There are also a few more artists that I have on deck. It’s all very diverse, not just one style of music. I’m not disclosing who the rest are yet but I’m very happy to have such great talent to support! Eventually I do plan on releasing some solo Jneiro Jarel or Dr. Who Dat? work. Still, trying to figure some things out before I make that call.
OKP: What are the creative differences are on a project with doom versus a solo project–and how long was the project with DOOM in the works?
JJ: Solo is always easier, I guess, but DOOM and I understand each other’s work flow. We respect one another as individual artists and we don’t force anything. We kind of let Lex have their fun with Key to the Kuffs though! The ‘Butter Edition’ was something they had been trying to make happen for a little while now. It’s basically an extended version of the album with some remixes and additional tracks included. DOOM and I first began working on KTTK in 2010. I know he has the reputation to be hard to pin so I guess I’ve been fortunate. It’s been around 8 years since he worked with another producer on an album.
OKP: JJ DOOM is only one project but a lot of your work has been marked by a very eclectic list of collaborators–Damon
Albarn, Count Bass D, TVOTR, Massive Attack–which is harder for you: collaborating or working alone?
JJ: It’s a bit easier working alone for the obvious reasons but, I don’t work with artists I don’t gel with. It has to be natural. I don’t force it. I could have worked with some more known artists but it just didn’t gel with me. Kimbra is an artist that I’m vibing with creatively at the moment and it feels real natural! We’re not even tripping on what’s going to be released or not, it’s just us being creative and seeing where it’s going. Most artists I’ve worked with are very prolific and super easy to work with. I’ve been blessed.
OKP: This joint venture with Ropeadope is a collabo, too. How much will you be involved in the label side–is it a partnership
where you are owning the creative side rather than business? Or both?
JJ: When it came time to for me to revamp Label Who, it was essential that I enlist the support of those who would understand and fully get behind my artistic vision. Having already established a positive working relationship with Ropeadope, it only felt natural that they would be the right ones to approach. I am involved in this process every step of the way, have full creative control and am able to showcase other amazingly talented artists. I have a team of artists (musicians/ filmmakers/ photographers/ illustrators/ animators etc.) that help out a lot. I’m also all of the above. The entire collective is called Oddest Tree. You’ll hear more about that very soon. I have a lot of talent around me that just need a proper outlet and I’m happy to be able to facilitate that with Label Who.
OKP: What should we expect first/next from Jneiro?
Right now I’m just focusing on the artists on Label Who, and focusing more on my other creative passions like fllm, photography and visual arts; something I’ve always wanted to put more time into. I also plan on curating some cool events involving Oddest Tree and Label Who. The first single that will be released is a song I’ve produced called “Ohh Bay!!! (Ohh Baby)” by JJ Burton. Real melodic and chill; something the ladies will appreciate!