Straight out of Inglewood, California, 19 year old Jay Burna Francois is keen to prove that there is some young intellect and talent present in the states. Soulja hasn't killed all hope with his plastic plans. Jay Burna calls the booth his confession room and his audience as his priest “music that makes sense”.
Burna has worked hard building his rep as the Broward County Beast, eating up performances, gnashing through freestyles, and never biting on his tracks! Nino caught up with the man himself as he took a break from the usual track snacking in his new home of Lauderdale. Amidst praise from all angles, and an admittingly sceptic stereotype of young American MCs, Burna has proved to us that he is gonna sink his carnivores in conscious hip hop, no matter the stereotypes.
Nino: Give us a brief intro – from the moment you first picked up a mike until this very moment…
Jay Burna: WOW! Um… The first time I picked up a mike was the day I fell in love with hip hop. I was about 12, 13 and I was listening to the radio. I was so in love with the music. I figured I could do it too. My mind was full of thoughts that I could write down so I dropped a song over a computer mike at my neighbours house and from there I became record-a-holic. As time went by I suffered pain from losing a close friend which caused me to write deeper lyrics. Get more in depth. He always told me “make your listeners feel like they’re with you”.
Nino: So what makes you different from the herd of wannabee gangster rappers being pumped out of the states at the moment?
Jay Burna: WHOA! Man I do me. I’m not scared to experiment with my music. Most rappers are scared to come out of that ‘I sell this I pop that’ box. My music is universal like my life. We go through more than just that in the hood.
Nino: Can you name three landmark hip hop albums every head should own?
Jay Burna: American Gangster, College Dropout, Enemy Of The State. Go get my album on iTunes, Amazon or Rhapsody. Support Independent Artists Please!
Nino: When Young Jeezy came over to the UK he ripped UK hip hop heads by ignorantly implying that true hip hop scenes and lifestyles cannot exist outside of the US. Is this an attitude a lot people around you have? What’s your honest take?
Jay Burna: I didn’t hear about that. Nobody around me has that attitude. Hip Hop is life. How the hell can it just be in the states when hip hop is all over the world?!
Nino: Are there any British hip hop acts you really feel?
Jay Burna: Estelle comes to mind when you say that. I’m loving her sound right now. I don’t know what you consider Amy Whinehouse but she's hot too.
Nino: What did you do to celebrate this year’s Independence Day? Is it something you take seriously?
Jay Burna: I had a show that night, so that was my focus. To be honest, America won't let Haitians over there without a hassle or let them in period. So you read between the lines… haha.
Nino: How much attention do you pay to hip hop journalism?
Jay Burna: A Whole lot. I have to stay updated.
Nino: What do you love the most about hip hop?
Jay Burna: Being a part of it. I love everything about it. From rocking the mike to sitting back listening.
Nino: Is there anything about the way hip hop is heading or the suggestions made by mainstream ideas that worries or disturbs you?
Jay Burna: Well hip hop is changing. There’s no way Soulja Boy is going to rap like Common. Hip hop changes every few years and we just have to be happy we still have some good artists left in the game. As for disturbances, I’m not feeling the way the media is making it seem that hip hop is cause of problems. When the world is full problems caused by many people who don't listen to hip hop.
Nino: Is hip hop a safe game anymore? Was it ever safe?
Jay Burna: Honestly, we both know that the game is no way near safe. Anything can happen. It was never safe. Look at TLC. So much good music with so little money coming back. Then you got labels like Cash Money who's artist never come out unless your Wayne. This game is cold. That will never change.
Nino: With artists such as 50 Cent, Kanye and Jay Z representing hip hop to the masses at the moment – do you think that the lyrical content is as timeless genius as some of the older legends such as Chuck D and KRS1 whose words were consistently original and influential?
Jay Burna: Like I stated before hip hop changes every few years. KRS1 is the truth. I love that non violence movement. But to be real with you; lyrics are dying. I can have the hardest verses on song but all fans now wanna hear is a hook. So no, I don’t think lyric content is the same.
Nino: What do you think of ringtone rappers?
Jay Burna: If the music is hot they got a easy hustle. What More can I say?
Nino: Do you ever personally buy into songs rather than artists?
Jay Burna: Artist image tell me more than the music. Unless you’re Andre 3000.
Nino: Are any recent rap American rap / hip hop films realistic in their portrayals of the scene you are familiar with?
Jay Burna: Depends what type of life you lived coming up as a child. If you grew up in wealth sitting on large amount of pounds, you can’t say that was your realistic to you. But as for me, I can say yea something like ‘get rich or die’ is me and still is.
Nino: If you’re being completely honest – do you ever feel you give into the pressure your stereotype demands – and find yourself actively working to fulfil that stereotype?
Jay Burna: Some labels give you this image to portray like your this dude when you’re not. I’m far from a stereotype this is me, no image, I’m Jay Burna in the private and Jay Burna out in public. If you live on pleasing everybody else you’re not going to be make progress and I’m a man for progress.
Nino: It doesn’t take a genius to work out that hip hop is riddled in misogyny. KRS1 suggested that hip hop is not misogynistic, and in fact the problem is that the guys love women too much. What’s your take on his words and your own attitudes?
Jay Burna: I can’t agree with you on that. There's not too many women in hip hop to even say such a thing. I love the women. I would love to see women doing successful numbers in the game. But all the women coming now are vixens. How do you hate a model? I don’t think you can do that. Haha…
Nino: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘feminism’?
Jay Burna: The way the states treated Clinton. Being a woman in politics can be a weakness in the States believe it or not.
Nino: Have you ever worked with any female MCs? Any you have your eye on?
Jay Burna: Actually I haven't. I would love to though. I always wanted to work with Missy Elliot but my eyes are on Lil mamma lol.
Nino: Is cursing in hip hop a sign of low intellect and lack of language ability, or is it just sincere individuals staying true to what they know?
Jay Burna: I can't speak for hip hop on that. On my behalf I feel as if there just in there. It's nothing to not swear in your lyrics unless you really do have low language ability.
Nino: How do you measure success, of yourself and other people in the scene?
Jay Burna: I don't measure it… Sky’s the limit success cannot be measured in the material things that I have, nor can it be measured by my title. To me, success is an inside job. To be successful you must feel successful on the inside. You can have all the money, houses and status that you like, but if you do not feel successful on the inside. What are you?
Nino: Alright then… the final round up… Nice and Smooth or Bone Thugs ‘n Harmony?
Jay Burna: The old school Bone Thugs of course…
Nino: Kid Sister or Nicole Scherzinger?
Jay Burna: Kid Sister… Kid Sister if you’re reading this. Get at me lol.
Nino: Obama or Clinton?
Jay Burna: Obama but of course I’m behind him a hundred and one. He has me as a firm supporter.
Nino: Krumpin or breakin?
Jay Burna: I don't dance but krumpin looks fresh.
Nino: Freestyle or battles?
Jay Burna: Both. They’re forms of art.
Nino: Global warming or fighting poverty?
Jay Burna: You surely gave me options. Lol. Wow I'd go with fighting poverty.
Nino: Any final words / shout outs?
Jay Burna: Hey mom and dad. Broward county it’s about to be a problem. Shout out to my group black congress… I can’t forget about Michelle Louis my manager.
And I thank you for reaching out to me Nino. To all of britishhiphop.co.uk. And everybody I forgot sorry. To all that support my music. Thanks. You can reach me at www.myspace.com/burnathebeast or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again.