J Philly has been known for sometime throughout local hip hop circles within the Southern Willamette Valley, but for the aspiring artist 2010 was a year of leaps and bounds. From mainstay at Eugene hip hop extravaganzas such as Summer Jam, to charismatic host of Oregon Duck flash mob inspired Flock The Village to feature tracks on Eugene Weekly’s Next Big Thing, J Philly and his Phil-Da-Beast Records are taking tremendous strides to Reach The Top of the music mountain. Now joining forces with Balou The Sasquatch to form the rap duo known as Cave Dwellers, J Philly is making feel good music that gives more than lip service to faith and doing hip hop in a positive way. J Philly is vested in every aspect of music, making his mark with crisp beats, fresh flavors and tight flowing rhymes that are rooted in classic hip hop. Keep an eye out for the Cave Dwellers debut album Out Of Hibernation dropping late Spring 2011.
There is a lot of thanking “God and my mother” within rap, what is different about your approach faith and hip-hop? I use Hip-Hop as a ministry tool, so my faith in God gets thrown into a lot of my music. As far as bringing the people closer to Christ, I leave that up to them, not pushing my views, but opening doors. I try not to push my faith on anyone, kind of like honey to vinegar, because nobodies trying to hear an arrogant Christian Rapper.
Do you remember the first album/song that got you hooked on hip-hop?
Yes! Sir Mix-A-Lot’s first album “Swass”. As cheesy as it was, I was only 4 years old and didn’t know any better but, Posse On Broadway and Iron Man were definitely the prime cuts, then I moved onto De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising and developed an obsession.
You talk about “the original elements of hip hop,” what is hip-hop to you?
Hip Hop to me is another way to express yourself through a vastly growing culture; you always have to stay relevant and know what sounds good. If you come out with something wack, you’re automatically labeled as “just another wannabe” or “not serious with your music”.
Is there a difference between hip-hop and rap? Yes, there is. Which pertains to your last question. Rap is just one element of the Hip Hop culture. Rapping is what an MC does, where as you’ve got the DJ on the turntables, Graffiti artists, B-Boys and B-Girls break dancing, beatboxing, and knowledge of the culture, so study up!
Are you at a point where hip-hop is paying the bills or do you still have the 9 to 5? I am happy to say that I quit my job a few years ago to focus on my music! It’s been a great ride so far, and I don’t see myself going back. My wife keeps a 9 to 5, but the ultimate goal is to make enough doing what I love to let her stay home.
Phil-Da-Beast Records is another venture of yours, are you involved in all aspects of recording? Phil-Da-Beast Records is a label I started back in 2007. I needed the business aspect of things to give it a professional feel and push myself out of a 10-year slump. I do everything including production, editing, recording, mastering, DJing, and self-promotion. I’ve always gone by the independent rule, “do as much as you can, for as long as you can, then ask for help”.
Do you produce artists other than yourself? I’ve produced for a bunch of artists, mostly local, but if you want a taste of the Phil-Da-Beast flavor, you can check out Todd G, The Cave Dwellers (Balou The Sasquatch and myself), Incyte, Endr Won, The Reward System, Mack Dub, KB The New, Brittani G, Fish Martinez, and recently a 12-year-old singer named LeLe. I’m always looking for people to collaborate with as well.
Your last release was a Mixtape titled Leak Of The Week, was this a compilation of previous songs or all new material? It was all new. I wanted to come out with something to get a buzz, and to stay relevant, something for the fans between LPs. I decided to leak a free downloadable song to anyone that wanted it every Friday for 3 months. I gained quite a few fans from around the way, and got a lot of people to admit they know me, haha!
Obviously in these parts the Ducks have always been a big deal, but this past year was one for the ages. How did you get involved with the Flock The Village event? I was brought in to the project because I had auto tune, an effect needed for the track. The song we did was a rendition of The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got A Feeling”, so they needed to make someone sound like Will.I.Am. They also wanted me to be the hype man-rapper guy. They didn’t really know much about me until I started suggesting crucial ideas, then I became the vocal editor and go-to what sounds good advisor. I even gave the band the name “4toFly”. That event went so well that there’s talk of doing an annual pep rally for the fans. Being a part of that project also stemmed off so much business for me, I’m still reaping the benefits.
2010 was a big year for you with popular local shows, Flock The Village and inclusion in Eugene Weekly’s Next Big Thing compilation album. What did you learn/discover in 2010 that you want to expand upon in 2011 as an artist? I really got a feel for how to conduct myself as an artist here in Eugene. I received loads of respect and head nods, and plan to keep pushing the envelope, giving the people what THEY want and not exactly what I want to give them. It’s an ongoing balancing act, but I think I’ve gained more knowledge of how to keep my music personalized, yet catchy.
With all that you were involved with in 2010 – what are some of the “must attend” events for local music coming up in 2011? Here in Eugene, the must attend Hip Hop event is always “Summer Jam”. That’s where they bring out all the heavy hitters. There’s talk of The Cave Dwellers opening for KJ-52 so be on the look out. Other than that, anything that Cool Nutz is at and anything that doesn’t involve a janky promoter.
When/how did J Philly and Balou The Sasquatch become The Cave Dwellers? Actually, it started with a weekly bible study. After each study, we would talk music. We became best friends and decided because we collab so much, it might be a good idea to do a project together. Thus, The Cave Dwellers were in full effect!
Is there any meaning or story behind the selection of the name? Yes! Since Big B is a Sasquatch and I am a Beast, we wanted to come up with something mutual. The only thing we could find was a cave. It’s for the people too! I believe that we all feel like we are stuck in a cave in some point in our lives, so it’s a metaphor for finally seeing the light and doing something about it.
How close are we to seeing an EP/LP from The Cave Dwellers? Very close, in fact it might be available before this interview comes out. We have a 17 song LP slated for April/May 2011.
J Philly (Hip Hop – Eugene, OR) solo hip hop artist as well as member of the rap duo The Cave Dwellers w/ Balou The Sasquatch and point man for Phil Da Beast Records. Look for Cave Dwellers to release their first full length album, Out Of Hibernation, April/May 2011.
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What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? - Jesus