PRINTED IN ISSUE 11
INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT PARSONS
Jaymes Bowman, more commonly known as his pseudonym Young Braised, describes himself as a “Contemporary Urban Recording Artist.” His website is divided into three sub categories: Work, Visual Treatments and Live Exhibitions. These distinctions are hardly conventional in rap, the genre that Young Braised more so observes and engages than embodies. There is a complex self-reflexivity apparent in Bowman’s music that certainly positions it as an area of discussion rather than a static concept. I had the pleasure of finding out where Bowman hopes these discussions will lead, and the distinct perspective towards music-making his life experience has afforded him.
How did you originally get into rap and hip-hop culture?
I listened to a lot of Christian rap that my brother and I would buy at heavily discounted prices from the Christian bookstore in Cranbrook, BC. They were on sale because obviously no one else in that market was buying them.
Do you remember any of the artists?
For sure. There was Pigeon John who kind of transcended the Christian realm. My brother and I actually interviewed him in Fernie, BC several years ago but that is another story. There was a group that was like Wu-tang that was called The Cross Movement. They were pretty cool. One of the guys was recently kicked out of the group because he was cheating on his wife. He is called “The Ambassador.” We had regular rap as well. We still wanted to support the hip-hop community so my friend and I took turns buying CD’s and then we’d rip them on to each other’s computers.
You recently compiled a mix of every Alonzo Mourning reference that you could find in other rap songs. Was that sort of a study for you? Something that would inform your own references?
References are important to all music, especially rap because it’s so young and so lyrically dense. But the Alonzo Mourning compilation, I just found those references more comedic than anything. It was something I had noticed myself over time. I was thinking that there were probably ten Alonzo Mourning references that I could think of off the top of my head, but when I actually started looking them up there was a lot more than ten. So I decided it was worth it to make a little compilation of the references. There were some hateful comments about how I forgot this one Ludacris line, but the commenter clearly did not realize I had already used an earlier one from Luda and was operating on a strict “one appearance per artist” basis.
The referentiality of your own music goes quite deep. So much so that it rewards the informed listener, which is in opposition to the ‘I don’t listen to the lyrics’ approach to rap. Is that something you strive to create through references?
Growing up I definitely got caught up in the “I don’t listen to rap I listen to hip-hop” debate for a while, and I think a lot of those types of ideologies definitely caused me to value the lyrical element of the genre more than anything else. Lately, though, I have come to the realization that the strength of my lyrics is still dependent on the accountability of their content.
Lyrically, how does your music engage with some of the more engrained themes in rap music?
I think the values that I have developed and the lifestyle that I lead are in definite contrast with a lot of the misogynistic/violent themes that have become normalized in rap. I don’t have an excuse because of my upbringing and surroundings and violence and misogyny are not normalized for me, it’s pretty much the opposite. So if I didn’t work outside of those themes I would be conforming to a way of thinking and a form of expression that wasn’t “keeping it real” if you will. It wouldn’t be reflective of my own experience.
You have mentioned in the past that your song “Feminist” is meant to be a conversation piece. What type of conversation are you hoping to start?
I think the idea of feminism is just as relevant and important now as it has ever been. I also think it has been marginalized by mainstream media as a marketing strategy (Beyonce, Dove, etc) or cultural catchphrase. I think that this confuses a lot of people as to what the term itself actually means and what being part of the movement actually looks like. I think the song plays with that confusion and causes the listener to question not only the track itself, but their own understanding of the word. Someone who might call themselves a feminist because they like Beyonce, for example, hasn’t necessarily done a lot of thinking about what it actually means. Hearing a song like “Feminist” would, I hope, stimulate their evaluation of the term. I think such a wateringdown of these political ideas/movements opens them up for satirical review. It’s like greenwashing. These ideas come from a place of positive change, but am I going to make fun of a BP ad telling me to “work on my carbon footprint”? Yes.
Rap is definitely not as static or clearly defined as it used to be. It seems to have become the face of modern mainstream music. Comment?
Yeah, it has just become a continuation of itself rather than a re-interpretation and evolution. It has become ‘French Montana does this, everyone will like it and we can get a bunch of views off it, and make a bunch of money so just keep doing that’. There is no incentive to be the inventor anymore.
Your artistic practice seems to be a long and patient study that goes beyond just making some songs. Perhaps akin to the culinary technique of ‘braising’, a process that takes a while.
Yeah, maybe I should change my name to ‘Young In-The-Process-of-Being-Braised.’
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