Jazze Pha : Southern Gumbo of TV, Internet, and Beats

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 Redding’s 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 Ciara’s “1,2 Step,” (Goodies)

and Notorious B.I.G’s “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?

I’ve 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? It’s not really anybody’s fault,

just bad timing on our part. So we basically put that off, then

[Cee-Lo] came with the Gnarls Barkley record. So it’s still

a win for us, ‘cause that’s my family and I got big love for him.

So anything great that happens for him, I’m with it.

AllHipHop.com: Okay. You have some other projects in the works though.

Tell me what you have lined up.

Jazze Pha: I’m working on

the new Usher album, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown. I’m 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: That’s what’s

up. I spoke to him just the other day. I hear you’re also working

with Janet on her new project. What’s that like?

Jazze Pha: We ‘bout to start

on Janet next week, in Miami I believe. That’s something else

I’m 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, that’s 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. I’m

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 don’t 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 don’t stray away

from your strong points, you know?

AllhipHop.com: Any particular reason why you didn’t work on The


Jazze Pha: I mean, just creative

differences with the label, ‘cause me and [Ciara] have been talking,

and I think we’ll be on track with this next project. She’s

always going to be my baby, whether she’s right or wrong. And

I’m not saying she’s wrong either, but I believe everything you

do in the industry is a step to build your career and develop you as

an artist.

AllhipHop.com: Cool. I’m

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 that’s 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, it’s 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 it’s 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 ain’t all just Atlanta.

Ludacris ain't from Atlanta, Ciara ain’t from Atlanta, but they live

here because it’s a great place to come and get things crackin'.

My career didn’t 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 it’s important

to get a buzz any way you can, whether it’s from local radio, national

radio, TV, whatever. A buzz is always important. Wherever

you can get it from, just gon’ get it. But you don’t 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 I’m 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 I’ve

never done an album...well in the ‘90s I had done this project, but

we ain’t gon’ talk about that. That’s not important. [Laughs]

AllHipHop.com: You know I’m

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

of music?

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, you’re cool

so if there was something going on I’d 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 haven’t talked about

anything like that. This is like the third interview someone asked

me about that. I’m trying to find out where that started.

AllHiphop.com: You and me

both. So let’s talk about some more concrete things, like your new

cooking show and your new cartoon with Nick Cannon.

Jazze Pha: Ahh yeah. What’s

Cooking with Jazze is the name of the cooking show. I’m 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 we’ll make it and we’ll just rap

while we’re 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. It’s going to be


With Nick and me, it’s still

a developing concept, so I don’t want to really discuss it right now

while it’s still not copyrighted and stuff. We don’t 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. It’s going to be different than anything

out right now. It’s a part of this project I’m 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: You’re just

taking over aren’t you? Now aside from ShoNuff Records, you also have

a new label, Imnotsigned.com.

Jazze Pha: Yeah, it’s 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 isn’t 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 ain’t

yours until you actually buy them. We don’t 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: We’ve gotten two

major deals signed- Kiley Dean and Alley Boy. Look out for them.

I’ve already started working with Kiley in the studio.

AllHipHop.com: Alright, well

since you’re on you’re A&R game, tell me, when listening to

a record, what makes the difference between a good production and a

great production?

Jazze Pha: Well, a good production

is when everyone walks in and says “Aye, that’s hot.” But

a great production is when you take that record that’s 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 it’s

all about what you put into it. It’s got to be a great hook, hooks

inside of hooks, and a great melody-all of that. Being good isn’t

good enough.