About a year and a half ago I was cruising SoundCloud for some new music and came across a fresh song that sounded nothing like what I was listening to. “Street Sweeper” by JMSN (pronounced like the Irish Whiskey, Jameson) was an incredibly unique sound that became a staple in my rotation. JMSN exhibited raw, honest emotion on “Street Sweeper”. That drove me to dive deeper into his catalog. After listening to his 3 albums (Priscilla, JMSN – The Blue Album, and Pllaje) and his collaborations with the likes of Ab-Soul, Ta-Ku, and Katranada, I immediately became a fan and have been checking for his music ever since.
Now with the release of his fourth album, It is. JMSN showing true growth as an artist. “My evolution as a musician is trying to let things go more. I’m trying to fine tune what I’m trying to do,” JMSN said, “Recording this album was even more natural than the first three albums. It flowed a little bit more.”
That flow can be heard on the incredibly smooth “Cruel Intentions”. When I first heard this track I was reminded of the D’Angelo classic, “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”. That soulful sound is the foundation for It is.
“Donnie Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Teddy Pendergrast…I always listened to that type of stuff. I wanted to go deeper into that with this record,” JMSN said in regards to his musical influences.
“Cruel Intentions” was the first song to be recorded for It is. After that JMSN had a vision for the rest of the record, “I know what I want to say know.”
He ended up adding another layer to “Cruel Intentions” by enlisting Swedish R&B songstress, Snoh Aalegra, for the remix. “I wanted to have a duet thing on the record.” The duet between the two artists takes the record to another level. JMSN comes back with a new verse that is chalk full of emotion.
The beauty in JMSN’s artistry is that he is a multi-talented artist. “I write the parts I know I want to hear.” His artistry has creative process has evolved over time but the one constant is that JMSN starts his process the guitar or a voice note. “I write the parts I know I want to hear.” Then he enlists other musicians to get out his vision. “I want the parts to be played the best they can be.”
It is. is not only a sonic evolution for JMSN but also a physical one. On his first two albums, JMSN sported long hair and a beard. The top comment for his “Bout It” video describes JMSN’s look the best as “Jesus Timberlake”. But going along with the overall theme for his latest album JMSN as an artist has evolved. “New album, new start,” says JMSN. “I felt like a different person. I’m over the beard, hair thing. It became like a rebellious thing. Who cares about being rebellious in that fashion. I was trying to prove something.”
This new look has been translated into the incredible visuals that JMSN produced. For JMSN (The Blue Album), he recorded a video for every song on the album with a cohesive feel. Each video was styled in the old-school VHS format. This is something that he wants to bring out in the visuals for It is. “Visuals are an important part of my artistry. I just want it to be a part of the whole thing. I want you to get to know me through the visuals.”
Having already released 5 videos for It is., JMSN values the visual side of the music. The music video is such a lost art. It’s incredibly refreshing when you have an artist like JMSN, who puts a strong emphasis on the visual component.
JMSN has the trifecta down for being a great artist. He’s got a high-quality album, top-notch visuals, and a great live show. He is currently touring the US and Canada. “The tour has been going great. It’s amazing to see stuff grow. Now I have a 6-piece band. I’m really enjoying it. It’s a lot more musicians. We extend songs and have freedom to perform.”
After seeing JMSN live at The Wonder Bar in Boston, you can see a tremendous amount of passion come through his performance. When I asked JMSN about what people should expect from his live show he said, “I don’t want to do stuff half-hearted. Expect to see me”. That is exactly what you will see at a JMSN show. Pure, passion filled, music.
Get to know JMSN’s sound with our 10-track Starter Pack playlist and be sure to check out It is. in its entirety.