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Some of us didn’t have homes to go to, mothers were crackheads, some in foster care, some molested at a young age, and last but not least none of us had a father involved!
I've worked with J.O for over a decade now. It wasn't an intentional thing, we literally crossed paths in the streets back in 2007, and over time I've grown as a filmmaker, and she's gone from being a 17-year-old sneaking in clubs, to an acclaimed entertainer.
Depsite making her 2018 documentary, Get Some available on Amazon Prime, there is still so much I don't know about J.O. In reality, I know the sexy, risk taking rap artist that makes me laugh to no end. I'm aware there is a side of her that holds painful experiences, filled with violence, betrayal, and various other issues, but I always stay on her more glamorous show business side. Why?
Because somebody has to. People with little aspirations, will often attempt to keep you where they are, while you're working to escape. J.O is an entertaining rap artist, and a success story in the making. As a storyteller it's my duty to continuously shine a light on that fact, while the rest of the world catches on.
Winners Only: Tell the world about your album. The producers you worked with, and how the title was chosen.
J.O: Ok, so my album is titled The Coldest Winter. It’s mostly about certain events that took place in my life. Such as my street life, deaths, relationships etc. Listening to The Coldest Winter, you definitely get a variety of moods. I named it The Coldest Winter because that was the season at the time, and this was gonna be that come back album. Meaning it’s gonna be a cold winter for these other rappers because J.O is back!
It was produced by Dame B. He is great at what he does, when it comes to quality sound. When I first met him about two years ago, I knew then we was gonna bring the heat to the streets.
How old were you when you recorded your first album and how old are you now? What are some of the differences about you from both time periods, and how have those differences affected your recording process?
I was about 17, and I’m 29 now. The first album I had a manager. This new album is all me. I put all my own money into my music now. I also had more pain built up, from deaths that had dramatic impacts on my life, on the new album. My motivation is different because I have a lot to say.
So wait a second, Lady Wrecker was recorded when you were 17? Wasn't it released in 2010?
Some of Lady Wrecker was, but not all of it. I remember when I couldn’t get in the club to perform "What U Saying?!" because I wasn’t old enough! The guy Broadway, who was featured on the song got me in, because it was a video shoot! There was a few breaks before the whole album dropped.
What was the 17-year-old J.O like? How were you in high school and what types of activities were you involved in?
The 17-year-old J.O was gang banging (laughs)! I was always fighting, getting suspended, and in the streets. Not gang banging because I wouldn’t call us a gang exactly. We were all family. Some of us didn’t have homes to go to, mothers were crackheads, some in foster care, some molested at a young age, and last but not least none of us had a father involved, so we all just looked out and protected each other! The news actually started the whole gang thing.
I went to Martin Luther King Jr. High School [in Cleveland, Ohio]. I was always getting straight A's, but I was always fighting and suspended. They kicked me out. From there I went to Glenville, where I was on house arrest at the time, and was fighting a case for fighting, it was all bad.
I actually got bullied on in the second grade by a fifth grader. I was the kind of kid who could fight but was more of a lover. I fought with my brothers and big cousins, but I didn’t want to fight at school when I was younger. Strange right?
So you said earlier that you lost a lot of people in your life. What can has kept you around, after living through the hardships that you've had to go through?
My ambition to make sure my mother never works again, my ambition to live, my son, my brother, my homies. I just wanna get everybody I got left, up out of here. We deserve to live with peace for a change. And I’m gonna be the one to make sure it happens. I feel like I owe that to the ones I lost and the ones that’s here now.
That's nice to hear. You just recently used your fighting skills in a boxing ring. Tell everyone about that experience. This was your boxing debut, correct?
Yeah I has to come out of retirement (laughs)! Naw, but for real though, it was super fun. Montana Love was throwing a open spar event, and I told him I was interested, and it went from there. The whole city came out and watched me kick ass. Even people I use to beef with in the past. That was a wonderful feeling in itself. The support was real.
Okay let's talk about a few of these songs. Let's start with the fun song "Twirl It." Tell us about your mind state in making that song, and what it's about.
(Laughs) It's a twerk song, basically about going to the club, kicking it with your bitches, and everybody turnt up! The ballers everywhere, strippers, everybody, and money all all over the place.
Tell me about "Hit a Nerve." Talk about the subject, and why you decided to perform it in the style that you did?
It’s basically about my love life with my son's father. It describes the ups and downs we went through, before we were strong enough to be what we are now.
He had a lot of infidelity issues, and me being me a woman that will fuck him up, the bitch, his nigga and whoever else knew about it! That’s when they start calling you crazy, after they pushed you that way. I never cared what anybody has to say about me. He’s mine bottom line!
He did so much. I left, then came back, then left, then came back! It was a roller coaster but it’s also life, shit happens, and so did our Son.
Whoa that was intense. Let's talk about your video. Who helped you make it? Shout out your co-stars. What was the artistic goal behind the video?
So I had the whole purge theme stuck in my head while listening to the song, and I kept thinking like, "U-Haul U-Haul." Which then, I made that mandatory to have for the video. It’s was literally the coldest day of the winter! It was negative two degrees, and my team still came and showed out.
My best friend Janice, my brother Rell, Dymond, and Shelly Bricks especially, because these two bitches literally froze with me. Bianca, Nisha, Killy, Gbaby, Jello, RJ, and a huge shout out to my shooter 103 Films! I love all y’all froze asses (laughs).
The album is called “The Coldest Winter” what are the odds that the day I chose to shoot the video it was the coldest day of the winter?! That was a sign or something, I believe in energy.
That's ironic because the video sort of reminded me of a shoot we did about six years ago when we shot on Cleveland's Playhouse Square, and it was about 12 degrees outside and you was out there in a thong, remember that?
Yes, them still to this day are my favorite pics! It’s was the day of the Ohio Bad Girls Club lingerie fashion show. Curly hair and red lipstick!
You're turning 30 this year. Does that mean anything to you? In the past it used to be a death sentence to sexy female performers like yourself, but these days women in their 30s & 40s are more appreciated in entertainment. How do you feel about it internally? Both mental and physically.
I actually don’t think about it like that! I just think of going above and beyond. You give the people what they want, and they will always want you. And besides I look nowhere near 30. Thanks mom and dad!
Would you say you're more productive than you've ever been in your career? Have you seen any positives out of putting out the various projects that you've released over the past year?
Hell yeah! I’d say I’m way more hungry now. Music has always been my passion. I remember when me, my little sister Timmesha and my cousin Sharvaise used to make songs. We used to type them out on a typewriter (laughs) those were the days. But yes, I’ve seen a lot of progress. [Cleveland is] really supporting a real nigga. There’s so many parts of the world that needs to get one glimpse of me, then boom, they're not gonna be able to get enough. I’m coming and I’m coming hard!
Follow J.O @Still_butterscotch_mochalatae (Instagram) @JoSoTalented (Twitter).