Jason Martin (Formerly Problem) Returns To True Self, Refines Sound With ‘I Owe Myself’ Album 

Jason Martin

Jason Martin’s sound and progression as a man has evolved from the days of being known as Problem a moniker he no longer uses

As rap consumers, sometimes we want what might not be in the best interest of the artist. We want a fiery, flashy, charismatic, and entertaining character but that isn’t always fulfilling or sustainable to the artist.  Very rare is it that artists have an opportunity to sell the passions of their life for consumption in a way that feeds their own souls for the long term. For the sake of longevity though, artists have to find a balance between crowd-pleasing, self-awareness, and care. 

Jason Martin has found that balance with his newest effort that not only shows his growth as an artist, but that shows he is a man seeking education, wealth, understanding and positivity through his music and life. But hey, that doesn’t mean he’s not from Compton, and it will only take a second for him to get back to his Texas and Louisiana roots to remind you that he’s a Martin. 

Choosing to adopt his given name as his artistic name, Jason Martin has come home after searching for himself as we all do in life. Content with his place in life and his career Jason Martin spoke about his name change and the perspective he has on rap today.

Jason Martin: I went back to my original last name Jason Martin. I feel like for my family, the lineage of the Martin families, I think it’s cool to expand on that, keep that going. And just for myself, like something stage of my life, my career, what I represent, I think it’s very irresponsible to continue to call myself a Problem.”

Jake Crates: Got you, that makes sense.

Jason Martin: So, um, it just had to make sense, like musically and physically, spiritually, energy, everything. I have to all be in the same place. Yeah. So there’s no time, like the present. A little nerve, little nerve-wracking though I will say. I didn’t know it was gonna be this difficult as far as like with the DSPs and YouTubes and the different situations now, as opposed to maybe if I’d have done this six years ago or something.

Rooted in Compton where his family migrated like so many other Black families from the South in the early to mid 1900’s. Jason Martin’s family has roots in Louisiana and Texas like so many other Black families in California and South Central Los Angeles. 

Jason Martin: “Well, yeah, I mean, my, the majority, well, my family’s really from Louisiana. My Mom and my father’s side, they migrated out here in the sixties.  So I’ve been, my family’s been in Compton since the sixties.”

Birthed out of the South where the Gospel is strong, Jason Martin’s family roots pour through the keys of the rising production crew the Melodiks as Jason Martin laces tracks that at times have strong Gospel grooves driving home the power of self-realization and intuition, that encourage the listeners to dive deep into their own gut and mental compass. 

Jake Crates: So, just with the project in itself, I notice like, almost like an almost gospel influence, like real spiritual, it sounds like, you know, like really getting back to who you are. 

Jason Martin: “I mean, I, you know, I, I didn’t….you know how you make something and that’s not, that wasn’t like the point? I was just really going in there just making music, free music. So they was just feeling free. So if that’s the way sonically came out, that’s just the spirit that I’m in. Yeah. But I’d be gassing if I told you that was on purpose. It was like, we’re going, we’re gonna make this gospel thing. Yeah. Nah, that wasn’t it at all. It was like, these were the records we were recording and they just felt like so good. You know what I’m saying? 

“Having that much access to all the musicians all at once was a new thing for me. Usually I, when I work on other people’s stuff, I can use, like, they’ll have the musicians, they’ll have all the, the toys and tins that you can’t create album. Gotcha. This is my first time ever. Not just having to go off two tracks or just making beats on the computer and pulling it up. So just being able to play these type of guys.”

Jason Martin: “Shout to the Melodiks man. They’re a group of young musicians, a new production team. And I’m really championing them. I think they’re f###### amazing. They, they come in, they come in with everything from the engineer to the camera man, to the trumpet, to the saxophone, to the background singers, to the guitar. It’s like they have every instrument in everything. You need to create a body of work all in one group. So we locked in four times and we created 18 moments. So we gave you guys the first nine of ‘em.”

This was going to be a different project for Jason Martin ever since his out-of-body experience performing at the Hollywood Bowl alongside Kamasi Washington and Terrace Martin, two of Los Angles’ homegrown and highly accomplished Jazz musicians, who frequently collaborate with rappers.

Jason Martin: Damn, that right there changed a lot for me. I didn’t think, first of all, I didn’t even think people in that arena, and I don’t know why, but I just didn’t think people in that, uh, arena of music like Kamasi Washington, like you’re not gonna ever think to see Problem walk out at the Hollywood Bowl. And from when I walk out, everybody’s going, I’m like, oh, whoa, this is crazy. You know? You only in your own world. I’m known for doing it at that time a whole other thing. But that’s when it clicked. Like, I’m doing music, I’m rapping over a live orchestra in the back of saxophone. I’m like, oh yeah, it’s home. But it fits and I fit. Then to second that emotion, Robert and Kamasi brought me out at the dinner party show they did at NoHo. And then then they had me perform, “Like What..,” a jazz version of it. And that s### went crazy in there. So it just kind of solidified what I was getting ready to do. I had done the music, uh, last Summer. So a lot of the times, yeah, we would just shoot videos and getting the mixes riding and picking the records. So Yeah.

Combined with the engineering and mixing prowess of DJ Quik, this project has an especially nice sound as Quik was instrumental in the overall equalization and mastering of the album.

Jason Martin: Yeah. So during the mixing process, uh, quick is like, he’s uh, he’s doing a lot of mastering for a lot of people. Yeah. That’s his new fun, his new passion. Yeah. So he heard the project and he was just like, man, let me come in and just make sure your voice sounds expensive. Yeah. So he literally only focused on my voice. And he came in and for like five records, just with the guy that was mixing the shout to Marcel just was like, no, you have to make him sound more expensive. You gotta tweak it like this. Cuz you know, I probably sound the best I ever sounded was on Rosecrans.