Jamo Gang consists of Ras Kass, J57, and El Gant. They talk to us about their debut album Walking With Lions and how they formed the group.
Jamo Gang formed around 2016, how did you guys hook up?
J57: Our first studio sessions were in October 2015 in NYC. El Gant was the common denominator; a good friend of mine as well as Ras’. The first time I linked with them was at my studio in Brooklyn. It was just for me to play them some beats for their solo albums. I didn’t expect it to turn into a life-changing experience for me and for us three to become brothers AND a group. It’s a real blessing!
What does each of you bring to Jamo Gang?
J57: Well, Ras Kass and El Gant are 2 of the most powerful emcee’s on the planet, so they bring Grade A lyricism and songwriting to the label. I’m an emcee/producer but strictly for Jamo Gang, I’m the producer – I wanted to sit back and produce for this project, from a fan’s perspective.
You recently released your debut album Walking With Lions. Tell us about the album?
J57: With everything going on right now in the world, we and Fat Beats decided to push the album’s release date back to May 8th. This is an ALBUM. Most artists release projects that sound/feel like a collection of songs – but we pride ourselves on the fact that this is a full, cohesive album – all killer, no filler, that you can plan from beginning to end.
DJ Premier produced the track The 1st Time, who else features on the album?
J57: Everyone featured on this record is a friend of ours. We have (as you’ve said) DJ Premier, Slug from Atmosphere, Sid Wilson from Slipknot, Sick Jacken, and Slaine. I hold down all of the production except for The 1st Time which was produced by Premier. Also, my good homie and co-producer, PJ Katz co-produced some songs on the album with me!
You recently released the single, Belushi and Aykroyd. Can you tell us the concept behind that track?
El Gant: When J played the track, Ras and I knew exactly what to do on it. We started going back and forth and it just made sense! We team up well and have been doing it for years in and outside of Jamo Gang so we liked the idea of as MCs being Belushi and Aykroyd. We’ll show up to your party, tear things apart, and probably get into a little trouble….but when it’s time to perform, we don’t play!
Will there be any physical copies such as CDs, vinyl, or cassette?
El Gant: Absolutely. You can order the vinyl or the cd right now at fatbeats.com.
Besides purchasing/streaming your new album, do you have any merch?
El Gant: Yes we do! We will have an exclusive Walking With Lions hoodie and t-shirt available this week, as well as our OG logo merch. That can be found at jamogangstore.com.
Because of the coronavirus we all have to stay indoors. What are you guys doing to keep busy?
Ras Kass: I volunteer at a nonprofit rehab/halfway-house so as an ‘essential worker’ I’m still traveling and handling things outdoors. We have to take client’s temperatures, wear masks, and at times even complete suits. Besides that, I have a small circle of friends and one happens to be my engineer so I’ve still been in the studio working.
What advice would you give people who are finding it hard to stay motivated?
Ras Kass: Actually DJ Chill (Compton’s Most Wanted) was just mentioning how fragile people are when you take away their pattern/comfortability.
Chill and I have both been to prison so we know what a REAL quarantine is like. This isn’t confinement. You have all the amenities of home (You ARE Home! lol) so my advice is to stop being soft, suck it up and make the best of it.
Take this time for personal growth: read a book, learn a new language, spend quality Zoom time with loved ones. I personally bought a DAW, controller, and Serato Sample so I can get back to producing music in this digital era. El Gant is learning guitar, 57 is our new movie Editor
What’s next for Jamo Gang?
Ras Kass: Post Covid 19… Touring! I think we all would love to get on some major festivals once that’s a ‘thing’ again. Besides that, we will continue to make Nu Wave Retro Lyrical LoFi-yet-Sonic bangers!!
Interview by Jai Boo