From the moment he crowd surfed on to the stage at S.O.B’s in New York, Jazz Cartier exuded the confidence of a veteran MC during his live show. Jazz, or, Jaye Adams, despite only having two projects out, seems to have a clear artistic vision for his music and his stage performance reflects that vision well.
While on stage, the soft-spoken and reserved Jazz transforms into his exuberant alter-ego Jacuzzi, who is just as likely to stage dive into his rambunctious crowd as he is to rattle off a blistering, tongue-twisting 16 bars. Though he reps Toronto or “The Six,” as the kids say, Jazz, the son of a diplomat father, grew up all over the map and has an eclectic sound that reflects his unique upbringing.
We caught up with Jazz the day after his show in Manhattan and talked about “The Six,” his new mixtape Hotel Paranoia and the benefits of being on the come up.
EBONY.com: Were you in Toronto for NBA All-Star weekend? Did you perform at any cool gigs?
Jazz Cartier: Yeah. For All-Star weekend, I only had one engagement. I was hosting a party and Future was there. Fabolous was there. Odell Beckham Jr. came through. I performed, too.
EBONY.com: How often do you refer to your city as "The Six?" Is that what people from Toronto call their city or is that a term that outsiders use more often?
JC: It’s like half and half. The OG’s probably not so much, depending on where you come from, but a lot of the younger kids for sure call it “The Six.”
EBONY.com: Do you think Toronto has its own distinct sound yet or is it still taking shape?
JC: I think we do. There’s a darkness to it. It’s a very ambient vibe. It’s a lot of driving music.
EBONY.com: Was there a difference in how you approached Marauding in Paradise and Hotel Paranoia and if so, how did you approach these projects differently?
JC: Paradise was more so a passion project. Paranoia was more so growing up in a short span of time, seeing the world and meeting new people. A lot of personal sh** was happening etc. Paranoia is an extension of paradise so they both go hand in hand. When people think of paradise, they think of this beautiful place, but my paradise is kind of dark. Within that paradise is Hotel Paranoia.
EBONY.com: Why did you decide to name your latest project Hotel Paranoia? What does that title mean to you?
JC: Hotel Paranoia is the result of me traveling so much. Day in and day out, you’re on the road. You have a home, but nowhere really feels like home because you’re constantly everywhere and you’re traveling x amount of hours to go to a place to perform for 45 minutes to an hour and then it’s back to the hotel because you have a flight in the morning. You constantly see darkness. That’s what the idea spawned from.
EBONY.com: One thing that jumps out when you listen to Marauding in Paradise and Hotel Paranoia is your versatility. You sound just as comfortable and in pocket over somber, dreary beats like "Dead or Alive" as you do over uptempo, dance records like "I Know." How important is it for to switch up your flows from track to track?
JC: It’s very important. I don’t want to be typecast as a certain type of rapper ever. I want to be able to do whatever I please. I think that’s very important – establishing that off the jump is super crucial. In 5 years time, if I want to do an indie rock album, which I probably never would, but if I did want to, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for someone like me because people are so used to me constantly doing something new with my flow and sound.
EBONY.com: How would you describe your music to someone who is unfamiliar with you? What song would you want them to listen to first to get a good grasp of your sound?
JC: My music is about taking control of vulnerability. One song as an intro would be “Talk of the Town.” It’s hard because I have the softer records, the hard records and the in-between records. “Talk of the Town” is also very soothing and there are bars there if you want some bars. There’s also some aggression but the beat is not too in your face.
EBONY.com: You just released the video for "Opera". What was the inspiration for that song?
JC: “Phantom of the Opera” is one of my favorite screenplays. Just the overall aesthetic and the name of it is very dark and very polarizing. It was playing in Toronto while we were working on the project. One day I just had the idea of making a song called “Phantom of the Opera.” I think it kind of went hand in hand.
EBONY.com: Describe your alter ego Jacuzzi la Fleur. How does he differ from Jazz?
JC: Jazz is very reserved and relaxed. Jacuzzi is when I’m on stage or in the studio. It’s on. I don’t even know how to describe it. You know how people are in character at all times? Like how rappers are constantly rappers at all times? That’s f****** annoying. I make music to perform. When I perform that’s when the best of me comes out. That’s when the character and the personality comes out. For the most part, both projects, in a sense are Jazz vs. Jacuzzi. It’s a constant battle between both. Starting from “Guardian Angel” and ending in “Save Me From Myself.” That’s a constant theme I’m gonna be bringing up throughout my music in the coming years.
EBONY.com: New York’s Hot 97 radio personality Ebro Darden recently premiered your song "Red Alert" on Beats 1 Radio. How did that moment feel to hear your song being played for millions across the globe?
JC: To be honest with you, I missed it when it was happening. But then I caught the replay, so it’s kind of the same thing. But yeah, it’s pretty crazy, especially for that record, “Red Alert.” For me and Lantz, our usual approach is to take things very seriously. We normally plan and strategize heavily, but with “Red Alert,” that’s probably the fastest we’ve ever made a song. We made that in 45 minutes. We had the red lights all around the room and that’s where the name came from. That’s the only record that I’ve ever freestyled that we put out. Usually, I’m putting pen to paper at all times, but that was the record that we were like whatever happens happens, let’s just have fun. That’s what came about.
EBONY.com: Walk us through the path of an artist who's coming up from Toronto in the underground scene. For an artist like you, who's been buzzing in your city and elsewhere for a little while, what are the benefits of not signing with OVO and doing it yourself?
JC: When Drake was coming up there was no Drake for him. He had to do it himself. I just feel like that’s the route I need to take to build my own dynasty and start my own legacy. I can’t depend on somebody else as a crutch. That’s why you see little to no features. I just want to prove it to myself and to kids who are aspiring to be rappers or artists in general. You don’t need to reach for a big name feature or big name co-sign to get to a certain place. I’m talking to you today after doing S.O.B’s just last night off of two projects with one feature out of 32 tracks. I think that’s a strong message that I like to keep in people’s heads. Everyone else who’s hyped now, I get it, but I don’t really have that because I’m not really out there like that. At the same time, hype dies down. I’m kinda glad I’m not as big yet, because I can enjoy this and over time I can just keep working harder and doing my thing.
EBONY.com: Toronto is becoming a hotbed for musical talent as of late. Of course there were numerous artists from Toronto before him, but Drake really seems to have opened the floodgates for a new wave of musicians to shine. But at the same time Drake has taken a few opportunities to flex on this "New Toronto" that has emerged after him. How did you feel when you heard the line on Summer Sixteen: "All you boys from the New Toronto wanna be me a little." Did you feel any shade? Do you look up to Drake?
JC: I thought it was hard. I’ve never promoted anything like that. There’s nothing new about my Toronto. I’m really from Toronto, so there’s nothing that I need to feel shade for. We all know who it was for and he’s not even from Toronto so I think that’s the issue there. The day it dropped, some kid tweeted me like: “Is Drake referring to you when he’s talking about this new Toronto?” I responded like nah bruh and then all caps: “HAHAHA”. Not me. This whole New Toronto thing… I’ve been in the Toronto music scene since I was 15 years old. The first song I ever recorded is still on Much Music. That’s like our MTV equivalent over there. On all streaming services, my song that I made when I was 15 is still on there. I don’t know why the f*** they’re tryna play me like that. It’s called “Her Daddy Don’t Like Me.” It’s still everywhere. In terms of a New Toronto, I’ve really been around. Shout out to The Boy!
EBONY.com: As someone with only 2 projects out at the moment, you're a young artist who has already found your own sound. However, a lot of people compare you to various artists including Travis Scott, despite the fact that you two are very different lyrically and in terms of subject matter. I've heard "If you like Travis Scott, you'll like Jazz Cartier" a bunch. You touched on it a little bit on "Talk of the Town." How do you feel about that comparison? Do you think it's accurate?
JC: It’s human nature. When people hear a new artist, for comfort reasons, they register with someone that they’re more familiar with. So he’s the first name that comes to mind for some just because of sonic soundscapes, which is fair. They always say I sound like someone, but one is ever talking about the bars because lyrically there is no one to compare it to.
EBONY.com: "Dead or Alive" is one of the best, most aggressive songs I heard in 2015. As soon as the beat came on at the show, the size of the mosh pit doubled and mayhem ensued.
JC: I wish I saved “Dead or Alive” for Paranoia. It would’ve had a bigger effect. That’s what I do with certain records. Certain records I save because I know if I put it out now, it won’t have the same hit as if I put it out in a year. “Dead or Alive” was the one record off Paradise that I wish I saved for Paranoia. But at the same time, it did its job.