The end of August saw the release of ‘Late To The Party,’ the latest from Jadon Woodard. It shined a light on how big New York City artists go in the DIY scene, and now we’re thrilled to shine a light just as bright on this spirited hip-hop artist. We went back and forth about poetry, mainstream artists, the beauty of busking, and more…
Kendra: Was poetry something that came naturally to you, or was your interest in it sparked by studying it in school or even music?
Jadon Woodard: I picked up writing poetry and a cappella rhyme schemes around 12-13-years-old. I was going through a rough time in my personal life and found an escape through words.
Two things shifted my focus to art completely.
1) Watching ‘Tupac: Resurrection’ on repeat at 12-13. I connected so much to his story and wanted to be the next Pac.
2) Around 14-15, I frequently stole ‘Playboy’ and ‘High Time Magazines’ from the Barnes and Nobles in my hometown, Fairfield, California.
I would sell them around my neighborhood to make cash for survival. An open mic was going on during one of my visits. I signed up, wrote a quick rap on a napkin, performed it, and met my first mentor that shifted my life trajectory.
Kendra: What elements of the NYC DIY rap scene that you’re a part of shine brightest on 2020’s ‘Late To The Party?’
Jadon Woodard: The DIY elements that shine brightest for me on ‘Late To The Party’ come from the homegrown ingredients in Bushwick, Brooklyn. On the production side, Alex Sniderman engineered everything. Flip Bundlez and JHN Hunter handled overseeing the beats and production as well as A&R‘ing. They both came up around ASAP MOB, and most of the artists in the current NYC music scene, so they have stayed consistent and grown with the sound over the years.
Lyrically, it’s a combination of years of busking in NYC – there’s a nod to Brooklyn Drill, there’s music that sounds like Dirty Timberlands and fights on the J train, there’s activism and anger that comes from surviving stop and frisk and nights in Central Bookings – and so many other ingredients that come from what my experience has been growing up as a transplant in Bushwick and Bedstuy, in addition to NYC youth shelters since a teenager in 2008.
Kendra: While some don’t appreciate it, I live for artists who take to the streets. There’s beauty in the dancers in the subway, the artist painting on the corner, or even the rapper spitting rhymes as you pass by. Have you been able to perform in that manner with all that’s going on with the pandemic?
Jadon Woodard: Surprisingly, I retired from busking on the subways earlier this year. I busked for 10+ years and got out just in time. I made a vow that I would apply that same 6-9 hours a day to the studio. I mastered my 10K hours on the train. Now it’s time to do the same with the mixing board and microphone. The trains will always be a part of me though. Most of my online fans are my regulars from the subways.
Kendra: Do you have any advice for novice street performers who aren’t sure how to go about getting out there?
Jadon Woodard: My advice for the novices is to study all the different ways that buskers accumulate money. Some use the platforms, trains, back of trucks, parks, play on the streets, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to connect with your fans. They want to get to know you and will come to support you over the years. The people who have followed me over the years have grown to become friends and some of my most beneficial critics.
Kendra: On top of being an artist and poet, you’re also an actor. Are you concentrated on one area in terms of TV, movies, theater, etc?
Jadon Woodard: As far as acting goes, I want to be one of the greats. I’m in SAG – AFTRA and have one major film, ‘Late Night’ with Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson, under my belt but I want more and am willing to learn to adapt to diversify my role options. While we are fighting through this pandemic, I’m setting goals to accomplish, one of them being a degree in music or theater, maybe both. I’ve earned my street knowledge in both fields but mastering the academic standpoints makes the difference between the one-hit wonders and the legends.
Kendra: No matter what, you’re all in when it comes to the entertainment industry. Which can be…not the greatest at times. It’s been five years since you won studio time with DJ Khaled and still, nada. Did that experience forever tarnish how you feel about mainstream artists?
Jadon Woodard: Honestly, because of the Jack’n 4 Beats experiment, I want to work with even more industry artists and more importantly, CONDUCT GOOD BUSINESS! The goal is to make sure fewer artists endure what I had to experience.
It took me 4 1/2 years to get over being played by DJ Khaled. He’s not allowed to be played in my house haha. All jokes aside though, he screwed me over and 10K other rappers that entered the Jack’n 4 Beats contest. He also burned Jack Daniels for a large amount of money.
While chasing him down for my session, I missed out on tapping into so many NYC scenes and sounds that developed from 2015-2019. I played the bench for a long time and watched my buzz die. I got more and was close to ending my life. I worked through that and made ‘Late To The Party.’
Kendra: With all that’s going on, how do you feel 2020 has shaped your creativity and drive moving forward?
Jadon Woodard: Everything happening in 2020 has made me focus on what’s important in my life. Acknowledging my strengths and weaknesses. Asking for help when needed. Paying off debt and investing in my talent financially and mentally. I’ve been working in the studio like crazy. That’s what I’m most excited about. The next project is going to be bananas!
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Jadon Woodard: In the near future, expect mad collabs from me. I have to strengthen the brand by working within the music community so my focus is connecting with artists all over. If I do it right, the buzz for my next project will be OD lit!