Jazze Pha is easily known as
one of the hardest working people in the industry. Born Phalon Alexander,
the son of James Alexander, bass player of Otis Reddings Bar-Kays,
and accomplished vocalist Denise Williams, Jazze Pha has the genetic
make-up of a musical genius. Still, the dynamic producer pulls his own
weight in an industry full of mediocre artists searching for handouts.
His unique Southern Hip-Hop flare, with a mix of rhythm and blues has
made him a mainstay in the industry, and a staple in the A.
From behind his MPC 3000 and
Digidesign Pro Tools, Jazze Pha masters the art of production, while
making use of live instrumentation to provide an artistic, fresh vibe
found on popular tracks like Ciaras 1,2 Step, (Goodies)
and Notorious B.I.Gs Nasty Girl (Duets: The Final Chapter).
Steady on the grind, and intent on staying afloat in this fickle music
industry, he is getting his feet wet in every aspect of the business.
From cooking shows and cartoon networks, to helping Janet Jackson re-stake
her claim as the reigning pop diva, Jazze has his hands full; yet the
flavorful phenom freed up some time to open up with AllHipHop.com about
his work ethic, and why Atlanta is the Mecca of entertainment.
AllHipHop.com: First I have
to ask, what’s the status of your project with Cee-Lo, Happy Hour?
Ive been waiting on that for a minute now.
Jazze Pha: Well I mean,
the whole truth is that Capitol Records was going through a big merger.
They had the situation moving and they dropped the ball, because of
the change of guard, you know? Its not really anybodys fault,
just bad timing on our part. So we basically put that off, then
[Cee-Lo] came with the Gnarls Barkley record. So its still
a win for us, cause thats my family and I got big love for him.
So anything great that happens for him, Im with it.
AllHipHop.com: Okay. You have some other projects in the works though.
Tell me what you have lined up.
Jazze Pha: Im working on
the new Usher album, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown. Im producing
a lot with Tricky Stewart and working with this new songwriter, The
Dream. The Dream wrote all the songs we did with Mary J. Blige
and Usher. The boy is crazy.
AllHipHop.com: Thats whats
up. I spoke to him just the other day. I hear youre also working
with Janet on her new project. Whats that like?
Jazze Pha: We bout to start
on Janet next week, in Miami I believe. Thats something else
Im excited about; I think this is a real important part of her career,
a time for her to step up in the eyes of younger people who look at
her like, Yeah, thats just Janet. But they will see what
she can really do with this album. And I think we have a new vibe
going on right now, so she picked the right people to back her up. Im
excited about that.
AllHipHop.com: Many people feel like Ciara is a modern day Janet Jackson.
Did you think Ciara’s latest album was as strong as her first?
Jazze Pha: Umm, it was okay.
I think it was too much of one thing. I feel like the energy we
had on the first album remains unmatched. I dont think she
really got the fact that people were into her dancing, and she really
needs to focus on dance records and not the big ballads. Like, you got
to have the songs, songwriting is important, but dont stray away
from your strong points, you know?
AllhipHop.com: Any particular reason why you didnt work on The
Jazze Pha: I mean, just creative
differences with the label, cause me and [Ciara] have been talking,
and I think well be on track with this next project. Shes
always going to be my baby, whether shes right or wrong. And
Im not saying shes wrong either, but I believe everything you
do in the industry is a step to build your career and develop you as
AllhipHop.com: Cool. Im
looking forward to you guys reuniting. It seems like the South is like
one large underground unit these days. You guys are breeding a
plethora of artists that get a lot of local recognition, and you seem
to be unified. Do you think thats played a part in the success of
Southern Hip-Hop and R&B over the past few years?
Jazze Pha: Well, all eyes are
on Atlanta right now and they have been for a while. Creative people
naturally gravitate to this place. Like, its a starting pool
for young artists. Back in the day you had Cameo and all them
down here. Then it emerged again and you had Bobby Brown, LaFace, TLC
and Babyface. Now its back at it again, resurfacing. You know,
Diddy lives here, Steve Harvey just moved here. It just lets you
know that Atlanta is an entertainment Mecca.
Like, it aint all just Atlanta.
Ludacris ain’t from Atlanta, Ciara aint from Atlanta, but they live
here because its a great place to come and get things crackin’.
My career didnt really take off until I moved to Atlanta in 95.
The underground scene is crazy down here, and it keeps cats doing positive
things with their money, you know?
AllHipHop.com: Do you think
that creating a name for yourself on the underground scene, in your
hometown, and then gradually progressing, is a good way for a producer
or artists to break into the industry?
Jazze Pha: I think its important
to get a buzz any way you can, whether its from local radio, national
radio, TV, whatever. A buzz is always important. Wherever
you can get it from, just gon get it. But you dont have to have
a following in your hometown. Look at Tricky Stewart. If you look
in his house, he has Pink [plaques], Charlie Wilson [plaques], Tyrese
[plaques], and few people in or out of Atlanta could tell you who he
AllHipHop.com: Would you consider
yourself an artist, producer or musician?
Jazze Pha: A producer/artist,
because Im very much a side artist. People want me on their
album to sing and stuff, just for the vibe, you know?
AllHipHop.com: Kind of like
Jazze: Yeah, except Ive
never done an album…well in the 90s I had done this project, but
we aint gon talk about that. Thats not important. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: You know Im
searching the net as we speak right? [Laughs] So strictly speaking of
production, what are some key musical elements prevalent in Southern
tracks that are distinctly different or absent from any other region
Jazze Pha: The 808 kick, the
high pitch synthesizer- that high pitch sound you hear.
AllHipHop.com: That was really
a West Coast thing though, right?
Jazze Pha: Yeah, Dr. Dre made
that so popular, and Dre is one of the greatest producers period.
So we took him and applied him to a whole different vibe, with the double
timing hi hats and all that stuff.
AllhipHop.com: I can see that.
Rumor has it you’re starting a super-producer group with another Southern
boy, Timbaland. Fiction or fact?
Jazze Pha: Where that come
from, did you talk to Timbaland?
AllHipHop.com: A little birdy
told me. But I wanted to confirm, so fill me in, and be honest.
Jazze Pha: Nah, youre cool
so if there was something going on Id tell you and just tell you
not to write it. I’ll tell you this though, if we sat down and decided
to do something like that, it would be fresh. We havent talked about
anything like that. This is like the third interview someone asked
me about that. Im trying to find out where that started.
AllHiphop.com: You and me
both. So lets talk about some more concrete things, like your new
cooking show and your new cartoon with Nick Cannon.
Jazze Pha: Ahh yeah. Whats
Cooking with Jazze is the name of the cooking show. Im gonna
have people in there- like, if I had Diddy on the show, we would talk
about maybe his recipe for his favorite dish. Like, he might want
to make puffy shrimp, and well make it and well just rap
while were waiting maybe talk about how we first met and stuff.
Like, I plan on bringing E-40, Patti LaBelle and Trick Daddy on the
show, people who are famous for different dishes. Its going to be
With Nick and me, its still
a developing concept, so I dont want to really discuss it right now
while its still not copyrighted and stuff. We dont give away the
money, we bag it up and we take it. [Laughs] But he and I, and
some other celebrities, are starting something with music and cartoons,
so look forward to that. Its going to be different than anything
out right now. Its a part of this project Im doing at Turner Broadcasting
with Ryan Glover. We just brought Chris Brown over. You know,
just bringing urban content over to Turner, whether it be in the form
of a cartoon, talent, anything.
AllHipHop.com: Youre just
taking over arent you? Now aside from ShoNuff Records, you also have
a new label, Imnotsigned.com.
Jazze Pha: Yeah, its a place
where underprivileged artists can get their foot in the door.
AllHipHop.com: Now by underprivileged
you mean ?
Jazze Pha: Like, you might
be in Wyoming or New Zealand, where there isnt a record company readily
available for you to go out and hand your demo to. So on the site
they can shop their demo, upload their picture, a bio, whatever.
Or you can download our beats for $9.99 and rhyme over them. Now we
license them to you. So that means you can borrow them, but they aint
yours until you actually buy them. We dont want to make people think
we selling beats online for $9.99 then have artists coming at me like,
Well I paid 20 grand. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: Has it benefited any artists to date?
Jazze Pha: Weve gotten two
major deals signed- Kiley Dean and Alley Boy. Look out for them.
Ive already started working with Kiley in the studio.
AllHipHop.com: Alright, well
since youre on youre A&R game, tell me, when listening to
a record, what makes the difference between a good production and a
Jazze Pha: Well, a good production
is when everyone walks in and says Aye, thats hot. But
a great production is when you take that record thats hot to a whole
new level, and you walk in the next day and people say, That other
record is hot, but this is a whole other animal. So its
all about what you put into it. Its got to be a great hook, hooks
inside of hooks, and a great melody-all of that. Being good isnt