Baltimore artist SUBSTANTIAL prepares to release a Jill Scott tribute project, entitled “Jackin’ Jill”, built by “Jackin” music from various Jill Scott releases. I call him an artist, not just an MC, because besides working well with words, ‘Substizzle‘ also drew the sketch which is the cover art. Intrigued by this new project based entirely on the work of Jill Scott, I had to get at my Plague brother and ask him a few questions.
GMS: How did the idea of a Jill Scott Tribute album come about?
SUBSTANTIAL: Back in 2011 when I had the cancer scare, I decided to work on a tribute album to Jill Scott. I figure, celebrate people while they are still here, you know? Jill Scott has always been one of my favorite artists. It’s been about two years since I had the preventative surgery and I’m ready to put out the music, as a free download of course.
GMS: What is the song “Golden Lady” about?
SUBSTANTIAL: It basically tells the story of how I was first introduced to Jill Scott’s music, and how it influenced me over the years.
GMS: What about the rest of the songs on the album?
SUBSTANTIAL: The subject matter ranges from basic, everyday life experiences to dealing with relationships, while, some of the songs are male perspectives of what her original song is about. One song that’s very personal to me, is about domestic abuse. “Especially Different” is a collab with an MC named Illumenous. She rhymes about the abuse she went through in a relationship Â years ago, while my lyrics describe what it was like watching her go through it and eventually doing something about it. She’s like my sister, we’ve known each other since High School. The song is based on true events so it was definitely the most challenging to write.
GMS: Where did you learn to draw like that?
SUBSTANTIAL: I been drawing since I was a kid. I went to Suitland High School, a visual/performing arts school – think “FAME”, but in Maryland. That’s where I started to hone my skills, before I went to college. Then I went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY, majoring in Graphic Design.
GMS: What made you decide to draw the sketch of Jill Scott?
SUBSTANTIAL: Originally I jacked some photos of her and was planning to tweak those, but since working on the Home Is Where The Art Is album, I started getting back into my visual arts, drawing, wood-carving and print-making, so I just decided to do the cover myself, a hand drawn cover as opposed to another photo rendering.
GMS: Are the beats all straight “jacks” as the title implies, or is there original production?
SUBSTANTIAL: Both. Some of the songs are simply Jill Scott songs that I have added verses to, but others are remixed or reworked, as we sampled music, then added on to it or replayed elements of the original track. I even produced 2 of the joints on this project. I’m getting into that more, producing an EP for one of my former students, producing albums for the youth programs I work in, and also producing for some artists in the DMV area.
GMS: I heard that Jill Scott saw the cover art already on Twitter. Has she heard the tracks yet? What do you think / hope her reaction will be?
SUBSTANTIAL: Yeah, a few weeks ago she favorited the drawing on Twitter. I don’t know if she’s heard “Golden Lady” yet. When she does, I just hope she likes it. It would be awesome to get her feedback on it but ultimately, like most people, I just want the people I respect/admire to enjoy what I do.
Free Download: Substantial “Golden Lady (f. Steph The Saphic Songstress)”
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