Grade A Certified

"Jon Famous: Executive Business…"

Posted by J. Tinsley on April 8, 2009

April 8Since roughly the turn of the century, the axis of the hip-hop world has found itself rotating around the Mason-Dixon Line. Hip-hop has graduated through various stages and its sphere of influence shift from region to region. With artists such as T.I., Lil Wayne, Outkast, UGK, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Young Jeezy, Trick Daddy and a plethora of others, the southern influence in hip-hop, to say the least, has been evident throughout the course of the past decade.

One of the genre’s most successful eras still remains the dominance of the West Coast (primarily California) during the early to mid 1990’s. Aside from the highly controversial type of hip-hop known as “gangsta rap,” the West Coast brought forth some of music’s most influential, controversial and successful albums including: N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton, Ice Cube’s Death Certificate and AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, Warren G’s Regulate…G Funk Era and Tupac’s Me Against The World, All Eyez On Me and The Seven Day Theory.

To add to already astronomical resume’, Suge Knight’s Death Row Records (whose number of horror stories almost equaled the number of albums sold) were responsible for over 55 million records being purchased between the years of 1992 and 1996. Since the fall of Death Row, the only artists from the “left coast” to gain massive national exposure were Dr. Dre with his sophomore LP, The Chronic 2001, and The Game with his trifecta of LP’s, highlighted by his debut, The Documentary.

Recently, new blood has been circulating throughout the West and rumblings of a resurrection have been constant. Although not considered “new,” artists such as Glasses Malone and Crooked I are now beginning to catch the attention of listeners nationwide through features and affiliations. It is the artists like Nipsey Hussle and Jon Famous, however, who have sparked a new interest in West Coast hip-hop.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Famous, who was fresh off a road trip which saw him in New York City and visiting collegiate campuses that included Howard, Norfolk State and Hampton Universities among others.

“I’ve just been doing my job. That’s the name of the game getting your face and music out to the masses. Networking is key if you ever plan on being successful,” said Famous, whose real name is Jonathan Hendry.

The 21-year-old from Sacramento, California, has always held a special place for music in his heart. While making music since he came out the womb, he has been rapping since 2003 at the age of 15. His love for the West Coast can be seen in almost everything he says. Yet, there was one album that still has an impact on his musical and business progression…and the artist lived over 3,000 miles away from Sac-Town.

“The one album that really influenced me when I was growing up was Diddy’s No Way Out album. I’ve always admired Puff as a businessman and in essence, that’s who I try to model my own movement behind.”

That movement he refers to is a team of his closest friends with business mindsets who have donned the name Fresh Exec Entertainment. The entourage’s goals extend much further than a fly by night success story, rather fulfilling aspirations of etching their name as one of hip-hop’s mainstays.

“Fresh Exec is basically a group of guys who have a strong business savvy. We all know how to handle our business outside of music, but we come together to get this done as well. We’re businessmen by day and fresh executives by night,” said Famous.

With rumors of Dr. Dre’s mythical album, Detox, supposedly seeing a release date in the near future, The Game already at work on his fourth LP and Nipsey Hussle quickly becoming one of the game’s most anticipated new stars, the West is far from retrieving their glory days of the mid-90’s, but a strong interest is beginning to spark again.

Even with progression, there are still many antagonists who doubt West Coast hip-hop can become a major player in the industry for a second time. These criticisms only seem to add fuel to an already lit fire under Famous.

“Honestly, that just tells me what’s about to come from the West. I just laugh when people say that, it doesn’t faze me at all,” said Famous. “There is a silent storm brewing out here. People forget it’s talent out West with Snoop, Too Short, Crooked and Mistah F.A.B. Don’t forget Nipsey too. He’s crazy.”

Famous is also doing his own part to launch the West Coast comeback. His track, “Certified Hustla,” which features Jim Jones has garnered him a significant buzz. The YouTube video with he, Jones, Dame Dash and comedian, Mike Epps, in the studio has received well over 265,000 views.

“Instead of mailing a track to an artist, I like to work with them face to face and express my vision. So calls were made to Jim and we got it poppin’. They were actually impressed with my track record and my grind, so the respect was evident from the start. The rest was history.”

Shortly after his viral video with Jones appeared on the ‘net, Famous was also shown in the studio working Grand Hustle freshman, Yung LA, who will appear on his second single, “Pop My Tag.” Working on with a wide array of artists is something the Fresh Exec front man believes is vital to an artist’s progression.

“I need to know who listens to what. If you have universal appeal, then no one can deny your talent. I have to know what’s poppin’ in Chicago, in L.A., in Atlanta, in New York, in Miami. All that stuff is important,” said Famous.

While traveling from club to club and radio station to radio station, Famous has been promoting the release of his upcoming album, Crazy Genius. With one successful mixtape under his belt, Famous Round Here Vol. 916, there are currently no plans to release a second installment. In order to fully expose himself as a rapper and producer, Famous will take on the task of producing the majority of his debut album by himself.

“There won’t be a second mixtape, but I will be throwing buzz tracks out there to maintain and create more buzz,” said Famous. “I’m a producer when I wake up in the morning, so I can make whatever I want to when I feel like it. The only other producer on Crazy Genius is my boy, 2-Easy. I want people to get the full package of Jon Famous with no outside influences.”

On the production side, Famous has worked with artists such as Twista, Juvenile and Keak Da Sneak.  Arguably his most notable production, however, was the “Coconut Juice” remix which featured Tyga, Lil Wayne and Rich Boy.

One of the more difficult tasks in hip-hop is graduating from relative unknown to national coverboy. Through an intense marketing plan, both on and offline, and constant music that the masses can gravitate to, Famous hopes to see returns on his investments soon.

2009 has seen itself openly accept a wave of “new artists”, including Asher Roth, Nipsey Hussle, Drake and J. Cole, all of whom have been touted as potential “Rookie of the Year” candidates. However, Famous looks at the amount of new talent not as a curse, but a gift.

“It’s excellent that the game is accepting new talent. Everyone just has to have their own lane and know how to fill it,” said Famous. “I have my own lane and I have my foot on the gas…and I’m not letting go anytime soon.”

*To visit his official MySpace page, click here.*

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