TJ Jackson is music royalty. Serving as the late Michael Jackson’s nephew and youngest son to Tito Jackson from the Jackson 5, the Los Angeles native has been surrounded by music his entire life. Now, he’s excited and ready to be doing his own thing, creating music off the simple fact that he loves it.
Serving as one-third of 3T alongside his two brothers, the artist and musician recently unleashed his own solo single titled “Insomnia,” which brings a positive light to what typically would ignite a negative feeling.
AllHipHop: MJ’s birthday just passed (August 29), how did you and your family celebrate or honor him?
TJ Jackson: For me personally, I usually try to just think about great moments with him. All the lessons he taught me. It’s quite easy to do because there’s so many great experiences and memories we had, so I just try to think of all those great times. The world lost an artist, a legend, but I lost an uncle. I try to keep it completely personal… I don’t know how else to say it. We’re not doing dance competitions. We’re not moonwalking or anything, we’re thinking about the man as our uncle.
AllHipHop: Growing up as a Jackson, what are some of the pros and cons?
TJ Jackson: The pros are you get to meet a lot of great people, people who have achieved a lot in life. You get to travel, you get to see great parts of the world. You get to learn about music and that’s what I do, is music. It’s a perk. A con is people always ask you “how’s this person doing?” Like you’re supposed to know. “Where’s Janet at?” I don’t know where Janet is. [chuckles] Another is people sometimes pre-judge you. They think you’re one way — without even knowing you, they think they know you. Sometimes you have to get through and work through preconceived notions of how you are. But the pros far outweigh the cons, I’m blessed and proud to be a Jackson.
AllHipHop: What’s it like having the biggest name in pop as your uncle?
TJ Jackson: Again, I don’t see him… all my life, my time with him and experience, he was always just Uncle Michael. He really was humble and downplayed his achievements, I’m still learning about how massive he was. ‘Cause all my time with him was as my uncle. He was amazing. He was always inspiring, always creative, and he was always teaching me. Naturally teaching me and my brothers how to be the best we can, that’s something I’ll always be grateful for.
AllHipHop: Do you feel pressure?
TJ Jackson: That was a popular question when 3T came out. That was the #1 question. The answer back then was always no, because we didn’t feel the pressure. As I get older, it’s still no, but it’s a little bit higher. And that’s only because I have pride and respect for my family. Not saying I never did, but it’s higher. I’m understanding and more cognizant of the legacy factor. I want to do my thing to make sure I’m representing my family the right way.
AllHipHop: Your the mouthpiece of the family now, how does that work?
TJ Jackson: You could say that, but I don’t mind it. I just speak the truth. Now that I’m releasing music, I’m going out there to promote my music. When people are asking questions and they’re hearing my answers for the first time, that’s kind of made me more of the mouthpiece of the family. But the truth of the matter is I’m just being real. I’m telling my experience, my life, and sharing it with the world.
AllHipHop: Do you get counsel from the others or are you the de facto leader?
TJ Jackson: [Chuckles] I don’t consider myself the leader and I don’t get counsel. No one’s ever told me anything. I don’t even know how I would respond if someone told me something. I’m not an ego head but at the same time, this is my life. Sure my last name’s Jackson, but I’m TJ. So I’m gonna speak my truth and what I feel. Obviously, I don’t ever wanna disrespect my family, but I’m going to be true and real to me.
AllHipHop: How do you feel about the jokes toward your dad Tito?
TJ Jackson: It sucks. [laughs] But you know, it’s a famous quote (I can’t think of) about how people wouldn’t make jokes about something if it wasn’t relevant. If people don’t know that person. What people don’t understand is that without my father, there never would have been any of the Jacksons. He broke the string that started the Jackson 5. My father’s a good guy. He’s humble, he’s chill.
It hurts me because he says he’s strong, but I don’t know if it messes with him. I’m proud of my father. While every other Jackson was releasing their own thing, my father was out of the limelight forming and creating 3T. So he didn’t get his time to shine like the others did. The unfortunate thing is that kind of made him more of a joke, or not taken serious. He didn’t showcase his talents, but my father is the real deal. He’s an incredible guitarist, a Blues player, a Blues singer, and does his own pop and R&B stuff. My father is the real deal and I’m proud to be his son.
TJ Jackson: It’s trash. It’s unfair. It’s a dangerous precedent to just be able to defame and say whatever you want against someone who’s no longer with us. I’m certain that if my uncle was here, we wouldn’t be in this position because he’d be able to defend himself. He’d have so much, even more, because there’s so much evidence out there that shows these guys aren’t the truth. He’d have his own personal stash that would completely discredit them even more so.
It sucks but it’s the way our world is. Our world is about highlights. If you can get a couple of life-long performers to generate and do retake after retake to get a certain feeling — and you could fool people, that’s what’s going to happen. For anyone who has watched it, you must go online and at least do your research. Watch a YouTube video that shows their lies, it’s only fair to. Otherwise, it’s like walking into a courthouse and hearing a prosecution for 4 hours, then having to make a decision on something. If that was the case, there would be no sense for a defense attorney or a defense. If my uncle had that opportunity, we wouldn’t be in this situation. But his fans are incredible, they’ve been doing their thing to support him and to show that he’s innocent. Time will tell, they’ll figure it out.
AllHipHop: How’s it feel coming up under the shade of the family in the spotlight?
TJ Jackson: I don’t see so much as shade or in the shadow. Like I said, I’m proud to be a Jackson. From the outside, I’m the next generation or it’s another product from the family and I just take it with pride. Like any team player, I take it with pride. I’m proud to be who I am. I’m proud to be in the family.
AllHipHop: Congrats on “Insomnia.” What inspired this one?
TJ Jackson: Lyrically, the concept, it was a true experience.
AllHipHop: I struggle with insomnia too!
TJ Jackson: Do you? See, I’m happy you said it exactly like that because I wanted to flip the meaning. Insomnia’s always been a negative thing, something I struggle with, or something that’s messing with my sleeping pattern, but I wanted to showcase that moment when insomnia can actually be a beautiful thing. A positive. I had that experience with my loved one where we didn’t wanna go to sleep, the night was too strong and too great. We wanted it to last forever. Even though we had to wake up in the morning, we just said “forget it, let’s go as long as we can and just enjoy the night.” That’s what the song’s about.
AllHipHop: Thoughts on the 50 Cent & Paris feud?
TJ Jackson: I loved “In the Club” and some other 50 Cent songs, but I lost a lot of respect for him. A lot of respect, for many reasons. I just don’t think it was cool to attack my uncle without doing any research on the truth. Then for him to attack my younger cousin who has to deal with all this, is even more immature and more disgusting. Hopefully, he’ll mature and see more of a respectful side, but it is what it is.
AllHipHop: I mean, he’s just a troll.
TJ Jackson: Yeah, it felt like it was more to get attention. I try to always be respectful and forgive people but there’s some lines that you shouldn’t cross, and he crossed that line. Hopefully, in time, he’ll do the right thing and apologize.
TJ Jackson: I think it’s silly, stupid, insensitive, and wrong… to everyone. Again, he just has to mature and understand the importance of respect. Not trying to get attention by posting stupid things, he should be beyond that.
AllHipHop: How would you compare Chris Brown to MJ?
TJ Jackson: They’re both great. Me and my family have nothing but love for Chris. He’s always been incredibly respectful to all of us. He’s always paid great tribute and homage to my Uncle Michael. We all wish him nothing but the best. I hope he keeps breaking records, that’s my answer. I respect what he does as an artist and he will continue to grow.
AllHipHop: Is there anything else you want us to know?
TJ Jackson: Follow me at @tjjackson9 on Instagram, TJ Jackson World on Facebook and YouTube. Even more important, I do a newsletter once a week where I talk about my journey, talk about what’s on my mind. For anyone who wants to sign up, go to tjjacksonmusic.com.