Interview 4080: Ajani Jones
Ajani Jones is one of the Chicago Hip-Hop scene's bright new faces. Jones, A former student of The University of Iowa dropped his “safe” life to pursue Poetry/Rap. He is Columbia College’s chosen artist for their AEMMP Hip-Hop student run record label, under which he recently released his debut project: Eternal Bliss - premiered via Fake Shore Drive. To get you acquainted with his true ethos we interviewed him fresh off of his appearance at our monthly show at The Hollander Hotel.
Q: Where does the stage name Ajani Jones derive from?
A: Ajani derives from the Yoruba phrase "he who conquers the struggle". It's synonymous with my life and how I grew up on the south side. My mother would always say "Ajani" whenever hard times fell on us. My last name is Jones also.
Q: Why did you stop attending the University of Iowa to pursue music?
A: I had a full ride at the university of Iowa for academics but I didn't find significance in my major or a sense of purpose for life after school. My parents had faith in my ability to make music and encouraged me to come home and follow my dreams.
Q: How has music shaped you and your values?
A: Music was always around me since I could remember. Neo soul was my mother’s favorite genre. She would always play Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Musiq Soulchild, and Floetry in the car. It shaped my taste in sound. I wanted to rap because of 50 Cent though. It was unlike anything I had ever heard at 10.
Q: Describe your album Eternal Bliss to those who have yet to hear it
A: Eternal Bliss is a project about compassion and self-love. Experiencing life as an adult can make us cynical at times and the project is about finding what you love and keeping that close to you. I also firmly believe that women are the glue to hip-hop and life itself and so a lot of content caters to their beauty in my eyes.
Q: I Know you have a tight knit relationship with your producer/engineer BanksTheGenius, speak on how that chemistry has helped advance your music
A: Banks is my brother. We both have been through phases where we want to push the envelope and nothing sounds good to us and we go through phases where we can make three records in two hours. We're on the same wavelength when it comes to what works. Working with him the past year has helped my ability to create a record and perform it better. He's a big part of the reason that everything has come together the way it has and I'm thankful for him.
Q: What do you hope to achieve when you’re on stage?
A: On stage I have three goals. To make someone's face cringe because of a bar that I spit that's absolutely fire. To see people vibing to my sound and being engaged and to make people feel like they're family, because they are. This music speaks louder than just the artist, it's a symbol of energy that can uplift and change people's emotions and that's powerful to me.
Q: What do you have in store next for us?
A: What I have coming soon are a few singles that will show my versatility as an artist. I'm also working on something groundbreaking with Noah Sims, so keep an eye out for that.