A direct line can be drawn between Blues and Hip-Hop. Legendary blues artists like Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, and B.B.King helped lay the foundation of using music as a cathartic remedy for life’s ills. That same concept spawned some of the early founders of Hip-Hop culture to incorporate everyday struggles of poverty, depression, and heartbreak into their raps. Forty years later and the tradition still continues in many of the emcees today.
One current performer has not just tapped into that Blues tradition in spirit, he fully embraces it. Singer/producer/rapper Jared Evan’s sound actively fuses the vocal techniques and subject matter associated with the Blues with the production style and rhyme cadence commonly used in Hip-Hop. The result of that combination is the 23-year-old’s latest project Boom Bap & Blues.
“It has the Hip-Hop elements that I have always loved, but it has the soul and vocal elements from all the stuff I grew up listening to as well,” says Evan.
Evan was raised on Long Island, New York with a father who introduced him to everything from Al Green to Led Zeppelin. He delved into music on his own by picking up playing the drums at an early age.
Around the age of 13, Evan began studying 90’s Hip-Hop classics like Method Man’s Judgement Day, The Roots’ Illadelph Halflife, Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, and Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die. The storytelling and rhythms of rap music had the young Jared hooked.
Evan’s interest in music eventually led him to pursue the industry professionally. He released the video for his self-produced single “Frozen” in 2009 which led to the former Fader magazine intern to get signed with Interscope Records.
“Right when I made it, I had that feeling where I thought I had something special,” says Evan about his breakout song. “Frozen” went on to appear on the soundtrack to the Lebron James documentary More Than A Game beating out a Jay-Z track for the last spot on the LP.
While having connects at a major label helped Evan get his foot in the door in the music business, he ultimately decided to take the independent route. He decided that was the best approach to having more creative control over his music and not being forced to chase radio spins.
“If you live and die by the hit, then you live and die by the hit,” explains Evan. “That’s no kind of world an artist wants to live in. You have to constantly be pressured on following up your next hit with the last one.”
Going independent has not stopped Evan from making serious strides with his work. His latest project, Boom Bap & Blues, is a collaborative effort with DJ Statik Selektah. Evan handled the vocals, Statik tackled the beats, and New Jersey producer Illmind covered the mixing. The three East Coast Hip-Hop heads worked together to produced an album that helped Evan find his signature sound.
“I didn’t let anyone else around me change what I was doing,” explains Evan. “It was just me, Illmind, Statik Selektah, and just the people who understood what I was trying to do.”
Evan and Statik first connected back in 2010 at a show at SOB’s. Evan introduced himself to the well known Hip-Hop producer and three weeks later they were at Statik’s Brooklyn studio crafting songs. Evan admits that at the time he still was trying to figure himself out as an artist, so not much came from those initial sessions.
Fast forward two years later and you have a newly independent Jared Evan that was ready to move forward with a cohesive sound. He hooked back up with Statik, and this time they created the boom bap/soulful track “The Devil Wears Prada.” Evan wanted to use it on a solo project he was working on at the time. Statik had a different idea.
“I was assuming he was giving me that record for The 4th Chapter EP,” says Evan. “But he was like, ‘nah, dude we’re doing a project.’ When he said that I started to think further into the concept of what we would do as an album.”
The synergy of “The Devil Wears Prada” spawned the tone of the project that became Boom Bap & Blues. Evan says that his musical connection to Statik, and Illmind, that created that sound is definitely something he is going to explore in another installment. The two plan to be continuous working partners similar to another famous singer-producer duo.
“Timberlake and Timbaland. That’s a good comparison,” says Evan.“You know how on Timberlake’s first album he had Timbaland and Pharrell? I feel like Illmind’s my Pharrell, and Statik’s my Timbaland.”
While Evan wants to follow the familiar producer approach of Justin Timberlake, he does not subscribe to the “Blue Eyed Soul” tag JT is often labeled with.
“I don’t think soul should be labeled. If it’s soul, it’s soul. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Hispanic, or whatever. If you got soul, you got soul,” says Evan. “[Boom Bap & Blues] is way deeper than R&B or even soul. It’s actually the blues.”
Tracks like “Black & White” featuring Joey Bada$$ and “Pro Create” featuring Action Bronson are rooted in the blues heritage with a twist of present-day Hip-Hop.
“We’re doing 2013, but we’re doing it in a way that’s reminiscent of what use to go on. I love that, because to me that’s fresh,” says Evan. “Having a sound that’s reminiscent [of the past] is not repeating it. We’re doing 2013, but we’re adding sprinkles of the music we love that has been missed for so long.”
Jared Evan takes pride in his affiliation with a valuable, long-standing musical genre with his brand of Hip Hop Blues.
“I am a child of the music that came before me, and I’d like to continue to carry that torch.”
Boom Bap and Blues is available for download on iTunes.