JD Era: Leader of the New School

An era is defined as a significant period in history. But what signifies an era? War? Prosperity? A change in the old ways? For Toronto, and Hip-Hop in Canada in general, JD Era may represent all of those things. Battle tested veteran, self produced artist and occasional ghostwriter, JD Era is one of the hardest working young artists in the game. Is he the dawn of a new era, or a false alarm? Read what he has to say, and figure it out for yourselves.

AllHipHop.com Why should people care? What makes JD Era the next dude?

JD Era: I mean it’s one of those things. If you’re a fan of music, if you’re a fan of Hip-Hop and you’re open minded to hearing new stuff [you will care]. If you’re like, “I’m really not trying to f**k with no one from Canada,” then it’s probably not for you, you know what I mean?

My music is for people that want to hear something new; want something special. With my stuff, I just think lyrically I’m just better than 90 percent of people. That’s around the world, you know what I mean? I think I’m better than everyone, I think my production game is being stepped up a lot now, my concepts are getting better, and there’s just a whole new sound coming from Toronto that I’m kinda at the forefront of. People are starting to recognize.

I’m one of the few artists out here that is starting to get a little bit of recognition, you know what I mean? And I’m trying to take it a little bit further where I’m putting the whole country on my back, as opposed to [being] just about me. I’m a face for Hip-Hop in the country. I’m trying to put the country on my back right now.

AllHipHop.com: Now in other countries like the UK, Hip-Hop didn’t really take off until some of the locals developed their own flavor. They got the Grime, which is Hip-Hop inspired, but it’s the British interpretation of it. It’s their version of street, whereas Hip-Hop is American. Does Canada have their own take on it that would allow them to push forth with something new?

JD Era: Um, I think the most diverse thing that we have is that whole reggae, patois flow. You know the type of thing that Kardinal and those guys are doing? But in my case where I don’t have a West Indian background, it’s kinda like I look up to people that just do rap. So I’ve gotten an opportunity to soak in all of that and I’m influenced heavily by West Indian culture just being in Toronto because everywhere you go, there’s Jamaicans, there’s Trinis, you know what I mean?

There’s a large African presence but it’s just with us, we don’t really have a specific sound and I think that’s what’s hurt us a little bit. Where as in the South they have that bounce and that crunk feel, and in London like you’re saying, they have that Grime thing, That’s been one of the things that’s kinda held us back. We drift towards a more East Coast sound, but you can hear the difference in it just in our accents and how we speak. It sounds a little bit more proper, you know what I mean?

"Handled a bunch of people man, won my prize money, got a bunch of free s**t from Ecko so that was a good look but I mean more importantly, it was my last battle."

AllHipHop.com: Tell us a little bit about yourself. I heard you went through 25 MC’s in a Nike contest? What’s good with that?

JD Era: Oh that was actually Ecko-fest. Marc Ecko had done a big concert series where they brought down Mos Def and a bunch of artists…Nas, Kanye; a bunch of people.

Little X was one of the judges actually at the finals of that battle. And yea, I tore it.

Handled a bunch of people man, won my prize money, got a bunch of free s**t from Ecko so that was a good look but I mean more importantly, it was my last battle. You know what I mean?

It was my way out, it was how I got out of the battle scene and I wanted to make sure I left on top so like I got my check, got my free sh*t and got out, you know what I mean?

AllHipHop.com: So it’s important to you to be a well-rounded artist and not be pigeon-holed?

JD Era: Yea definitely. Like even to this day, like I ghost-write for R&B artists, I do some stuff with electro artists, you know what I mean? Like it’s not just…it’s bigger than just rapping for me. You know what I mean? Like I want to be an artist at the end of the day, not just some rapper from Toronto.

AllHipHop.com: So tell me, what does the music mean to you?

JD Era: Man, music is my life at this point in time. Like I’m in school now, you know what I mean? But just about to wrap that up so I’m doing this music thing full-time. So music is going to be what pays my bills and I mean for me it’s not just about the business, like there’s passion…I grew up on this. This is my heart at the end of the day, so writing for me is my release and I use it as a way for me to just kind of get through stuff. If something’s stressing me, just kind of you know, roll up something and then write something and bang it out in the studio, you know what I mean? So it’s kind of your way to get through things every day.

"This is my heart at the end of the day, so writing for me is my release and I use it as a way for me to just kind of get through stuff."

AllHipHop.com: Now as someone who’s raised in Hip-Hop, how do you reconcile the business of it versus the art of it?

JD Era: Right now it seems like everything is single-driven. People are forgetting about crafting whole albums it seems. Right now it’s, “Let me make the best two or three singles for an album, put out whatever product, and just make my money off of ringtones and all that stuff.”

I came up from the battle scene where you’re doing it for the love. From day one you’re doing it for the love so I still approach it like that, but now that we own our own label, you have to be conscious of what you’re putting out and who you’re trying to reach and all that and it sucks, you know what I mean?

So you have to be a little bit more conscious nowadays. But they’ve raped Hip-Hop already. That’s the good thing. The industry has raped Hip-Hop already. Like when Nas says Hip-Hop is dead, it’s true, because they raped it already. So it’s like, now how do we re-work it to kind of bring it back to the art form?

AllHipHop.com: What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever rapped about?

JD Era: The weirdest thing? Probably fat girls. I got love for big women too. Or I had a song with my homie Beaver. He’s in Brooklyn right now, and the track was called “Tattoo”. You got to find it it’s in the archives somewhere far, far, far away. But yea, there’s a track about tattoos and women and their tattoos and s**t.

AllHipHop.com: If your mother was strapped to a chair with a bomb on her chest and you had to rhyme for her life, what beat would you rap over?

JD Era: Let’s see. Probably something by Dr.Dre. The best beat of all time is “Tell Her What’s Good” produced by Spin. I really don’t know. I’d probably go with something by Dre. I can’t think of something off the top though. I like…you know what. Phone Tap…I like Phone Tap by Dre. That beat’s stupid.


AllHipHop.com: I heard you dropped a tape recently with Superstar Jay. Tell us a little bit about that.

JD ERA: Yea, the first tape we did was the Cold War mixtape. I did that with Superstar Jay. And I mean he won a bunch of awards, he was in Essence magazine…Top 20 Influential People. He did the tape with Remy Ma, had a recent tape with Busta Rhymes. So I mean, he’s working and the good thing with that was I did that…I got the link through my cousin, Face. We had sent him the stuff and he was just kind of feeling it and for a New York DJ that kind of does a lot of street s**t to be like, “Yo, I f**ks with you,” you know what I mean, that’s a good look.


AllHipHop.com: So you got an album coming out in October…

JD ERA: Yea, yea I’m excited. Got an album coming out in October, in Canada at least. Canadian distribution…it’ll come out here. The album is crazy. I can’t say anything about the features or anything like that yet just because I want to make sure everything is set in stone but in terms of what I put into it and the production that I have from in-house…it’s crazy. We have done a crazy amount of work on this thing so we’re excited about it man.

AllHipHop.com In 30 words or less, who is JD Era?

JD ERA: JD Era is the hardest working rapper in this country. JD Era is trying to be a mogul, but understands that he has to take steps to do that so he’s being a very good rapper first. I’m a very humble person so, just looking to do work.