KillerHipHop Exclusive | JHawk Interview
If you’ve never heard “J-Hawk J-Hawk Productions” before a track, you’re probably Patrick’s rock roommate. Climb out, stretch, move your arms like your wheelchair stuck, and go get some Krabby Patties. Maybe on your way to work (at the Krusty Krab) while listening to the radio, you’ll hear something produced by JHawk. He’s produced for the likes of E-40, Casey Veggies, YG, and XV. Of course, he’s also responsible for the jerk movement and the “Cat Daddy.”
During our exclusive interview, JHawk gives advice to young producers trying to make it. Additionally, he talks about the beat making process, the birth of the “Cat Daddy,” critics of the jerk movement, his admiration for Quincy Jones, and more.
QuezKHH: How did you start producing?
JHawk: I got into producing when I was about 15-16. I met up with [an] artist at my High School I was going to, in my senior year at Hamilton High Academy of Music. We got together, and I did a couple of beats. I put out my 1st song on the internet when I was about 15-16, and I’ve just been going hard ever since.
KHH: What advice would you give to a young producer trying to make it?
JHawk: I know it sounds cliche, but believing in himself first. [Also] to get advice from his peers and friends and family and the internet, on his music, on his beats. [Get] true artist advice [and] see what people think. And to never quit, keep on going and have fun.
KHH: How’s the beat making process like for you?
JHawk: For me it varies. It can go from me being inspired by something I see off TV, or an experience. Then I go into the studio and maybe I’ll start off with the beat. Like the kick or the snare or the hi-hat. Then I might go into the medley. Or I might already have a medley, and [I'll] lay some drum patterns over it. The time it may take me to make a beat, it can be from 15 minutes to a month. It really varies. You just got to feel it. It’s all about the moment.
KHH: What’s your favorite beat?
JHawk: My favorite? Man, they’re all my favorite. You know, I love all of them. I don’t get married to a song or a beat. I just produce. I love it, and I’ll be on to the next [beat].
KHH: Who are you producing for right now?
JHawk: I’m producing for a lot of people right now. Most importantly, my two artists that I just signed. La Fonz and Th1zz. Follow them on twitter @TH1ZZ and La Fonz @LaFonz712. Those are my main productions right now. I just signed them. They’re both rappers. But outside of them I’m working with T Mills. He signed with Columbia [Records]. He got the single “Vans On” right now. My boy XV, he’s with Warner Brothers. We’ve got some crazy stuff coming on his LP, dropping, I think later this year. I just did some stuff with Tanvi Shah. She’s an Indian composer. She’s in India right now. We’re trying to have her come back out. She worked on Slumdog Millionaire. I don’t want to give you everything, but I got some dope projects in the works.
KHH: One of your most successful tracks has been the “Cat Daddy.” How was that track born?
JHawk: Actually, me and The Rej3ctz just decided to get into the studio. We were always talking. Because you know the jerk movement, we basically started the jerk movement. We were major contributors to the jerk movement, but we felt we weren’t getting our shine. So we wanted to start a new movement. They had a dance called the “Cat Daddy.” They came to me and they basically did the dance while I was making the beat. The song came about in just a couple of days, actually, to finish the song you know. They put it on their mixtape. We put it out and instantly, it was crazy. A couple of months later we were in Venice [Beach], shot the video with Chris Brown, and it just blew up. I never thought that a beat that I produced in my garage, that took me a couple of hours to make, and some days to tweak, can take me this far. So big shout out to The Rej3ctz and the whole team for pushing that song to where it is right now. It went gold by itself. With no label. No nothing. So I’m definitely thankful for that.
KHH: Do you ever know when something is going to be a hit? Like the “Cat Daddy?”
JHawk: Now that, I do have a feeling. On every song I put time and work into because I want it to be a hit. But sometimes I get a feeling. I definitely had a feeling with that one. It’s a fun record. I think people need to have more fun. That’s why there’s so many party songs right now. Because I think people just want to have fun again, and sometimes be not so serious. With the song being how hard it is with the dance to complement it, and The Rej3ctz performing it, I mean all the factors were there.
KHH: Like you previously said, you were a big part of the jerk movement. How did that start?
JHawk: Oh man, that movement was crazy. We started it back in like 2008. I went to a private school called Daniel Murphy. It got shut down actually. I had to complete my last year of High School at a new High School. So I found Hamilton Music Academy. I got into the academy. I showed up to the school, and I was telling everybody that I was a producer. People really didn’t believe me. But I made some new friends and we started to make music and throwing it up on the internet. I just did a lot of beats for a lot of people at my school, and in the city of L.A. Then it just took off. People started dancing to my music, and they liked it. They were jerking to the music. But I never sought out to make a jerk beat. I always just did me. I did JHawk. People danced to my music and that kind of developed a formula to what they were grabbing off off my beats. I took that and made a little formula. Like ok, this is how I need to make my beats in order for them to dance like this, and we ran with it. It just took off virally. On YouTube it was getting millions of hits [and] on MySpace [as well]. The jerk movement has expanded into movies, clothes, and drinks. Tons of views online. L.A. Weekly calling us, and The New York Times, The L.A. Times. The movement is never going to die out. These kids are just remaking it year after year. I’m definitely fortunate for the movement and being one of the starters of it back in 2008.
KHH: Congratulations on all of the success you’ve had.
KHH: So there’s been the “Cat Daddy,” the jerk movement, what’s next for JHawk?
JHawk: What’s next right now is my two artists man. I got these young artists. La Fonz is 12 years old. He’s crazy. He’s rapping. He’s singing. He’s writing. He’s doing a lot of his own stuff. We just had him on a Disney show, [and] he’s doing school tours right now. I’m definitely excited about that.
Then I got Th1zz. Th1zz did a song called “Tippin’” back in 2009. It blew up on the internet. I think it got like 10 million views. So we got back in the studio. [Th1zz] just turned 21. So I’m showcasing my club stuff to let people know where it started from, and where that sound originated from. Th1zz and La Fonz man. Remember those names.
KHH: A lot of critics say that the music you produce has no substance and that it’s even detrimental to the youth. What would you say to those critics?
JHawk: Everybody has an opinion. Just like they criticized rap music & hip-hop when it came out. They said it wouldn’t be as big as what it was [because] of the content and the language. But I mean, I think it all depends on the type of person you are. If you’re a strong person, you won’t let lyrics affect you. If you’re weak or if you don’t have that type of upbringing, then it’s true. A lot of those lyrics from the songs will affect you. The music content may not be as strong as you may like it, but it’s not for everybody. Just like hip-hop wasn’t for everybody. I think people have choices to listen to it or not listen to it. I know a lot of older cats who love what we’re doing, and some don’t. You can’t really be mad at it and take is as fact. I listen, but it’s their opinion, you know.
KHH: Yeah that’s true.
JHawk: Yeah. We’re just moving on.
KHH: Plus it’s all about having fun wouldn’t you say?
JHawk: Yeah it definitely is all about having fun. That’s definitely the main thing. I think that if critics were to really look at the jerk movement and just see what it’s been doing to these [kids]. I’ve been doing these school tours and these kids are just having fun. They’re dancing. They’re dressing right. Of course you’re still going to have some in the streets but I think this movement has really inspired a lot of kids to rap or produce. I mean, to get into production in the business of things rather than doing gang banging or drugs. That’s what I’m saying. Look at it on a lot different type of ways. It’s just how you look at it. I think it’s all about the person, and their opinion.
KHH: And finally, a lot of people talk about the greatest rapper of all time. But who’s the greatest producer of all time?
JHawk: One of my favorite producers is definitely Quincy Jones. Why? Just how versatile he is and his sound. How he really produces. How he ran the sessions with Michael Jackson, and how all across the board he was. He did film, TV, music, scores, and soundtracks. He did it all. That’s who I definitely look up to. Not only him as a producer but him as a person too. All the charities he gave to, and how humble he’s been. Even after the success of Michael Jackson’s early albums, how he was still able to go into the studio and still have that hunger and drive to make something greater. I think that’s the hardest thing, to do a project and have that much success like the Bad album, and come back and make some of the best albums of all time. It’s crazy. I’m always definitely looking at interviews and watching super close. Our music may not sound the same but I look at him for more than that. Quincy Jones, I would say, is one of my favorite producers.