HELL OF A JOURNEY SO FAR...
JC - The Truth is an underground hip-hop artist, originally from Penns Grove, NJ. His early music influence was his Father playing acoustic guitar in a local blues band. As a child JC would watch his Father’s band rehearse in their living room and would occasionally play a hand-me-down organ his Father brought home when he was seven. “There was always music in my house growing up, especially on the weekend. My parents and their friends would drink beer, smoke weed, and play card games. It was normal to me. As far as music… I was originally introduced to Blues and Rock-N-Roll, but once I got my own radio in my bedroom, I started to listen to hip-hop stations like Power 99 FM. My first cassette tape was LL. Cool J. - BAD, which I would play both A & B sides over and over again for weeks. I’d rehearse LL’s lines for every song and rewrite my own lyrics to the beats. LL, EPMD, De La Soul, KRS-One, crazy.”
By age twelve, JC was writing poetry and short stories. He was also becoming a skilled sketch artist and thought to be advanced for his age. “I remember even at a young age I was becoming obsessed with art. It’s all I cared about.” His teachers and classmates also recognized this, and voted him “Most Artistic“ in his 8th and 12th grade graduating years. He was also nominated to showcase his work at the Teen Art Festival, a state wide art celebration for students in New Jersey. His murals and artwork can still be found in the halls of Penns Grove High today, 20 years later.
However, at age thirteen, JC’s life began to spiral downward as his parents divorced and his mother’s boyfriend moved in months after his Father moved out. “From thirteen to eighteen years old it was really hard for me. My Father left for Virginia when I was 16 and I had no one to look up to. As a young man, you need that guidance from someone you respect. There was a lot of a negativity and abuse at home. Every day felt like an act in a terrible play and I had to get through it without showing my true emotions in fear of getting threatened or worse. I would dread coming home and it spilled over into the rest of my life. The only benefit from these years was it made me a better artist. I would focus all of my built up anger and pain and pour it into my art. It was tough for me and my younger brothers and no one on the outside knew how bad it effected us. It was an emotional prison. It was a house ruled by fear and manipulation.”
After high school, not even a month after graduation JC had a falling out with his then step-father. He ran out the front door with the clothes on his back, no shoes, and $10 in his pocket. He refused to go back and was determined to make a better life for himself and set an example for his brothers. The next couple of years were very difficult living from place to place, sleeping on different people’s couches and floors, and living out of his car. “There were lots of ups and downs, but one thing I managed to do was hold down a steady job through these years. I just couldn’t get on my feet though. Lot’s of depression and character building going on. Lots of rough nights praying and digging deep for hope.” One day, JC’s godparents offered a healthier environment for him to stay and have a bed and room of his own. While living with his godparents JC was able to work and figure out what to do with his life. “I wanted to go to art school. I tried to get into Rowan, but failed the portfolio interview. Their programs were based around more traditional art like painting and sculpting, and I think I failed their review because I was more of an illustrator/designer. So I wouldn’t have fit in there anyway. Then I saw a commercial for the Art Institute Of Philadelphia, and they had a program there I was interested in. I was like, “DAMN, I got to go THERE”. With the school being so close, I was able to go to a few interviews. They reviewed my portfolio, and I got accepted. I remember the day I got in. It was a BIG turning point. I had tried other ways to get by, even thought about joining the military, but I knew this was my path and I was determined to become an artist.” While at AIPH, JC won several awards for his work, including three Best Of Quarter Awards, Academic Recognitions, Dean’s List Achievements, and a Permanent Collection Award.
After graduating in 2004 with honors, JC moved into his Uncle’s house in Staten Island, NYC where he pursued a career in entertainment. He attended the Neighborhood Playhouse from 2005-06 where he studied theatre arts and started writing/producing underground hip-hop music on the side. “NPH taught me a lot about myself, and I built some solid relationships with some of the other actors who I still keep in touch with to this day. I’m grateful for what I learned from the people there. Some good, some bad, but there were lots of lessons. They never met a guy like me though, I can tell you that. I was definitely the black sheep of our class.”
In 2005, JC joined HeatRock Entertainment, an independent music group based in Brooklyn, NYC. While with HeatRock, he performed a live audition with other aspiring artists for A&R’s from different labels. One representative from Def Jam showed interest in his music, but after JC weighed his options he decided his music aspirations would be better off dictated on his own terms, and left HeatRock in less than a year. JC went on to release two mixtapes “Concrete Collabs: Vol. 1 & 2”, which featured various artists around the world.
By 2008, JC had released his first album “A Hamilton & Hope”, which described his life in Penns Grove and stories about his struggles with depression and homelessness. It was well received by the underground community, and he gave several interviews on digital radio for “DaScene” (Honolulu, Hawaii), “What’s Hot Radio Show?” (Long Island, NY.) and “The PopWiz Show” (Philadelphia, PA.) as well as interview’s for several underground blogs.
Over the next few years, JC went on an independent artistic journey collaborating with other artists, and releasing two more mixtapes. One mixtape titled “The Truth Hurts: Vol. 1” was hosted by DJ Saint 22 from M.O.E. who is most recognized for hosting Young Jeezy’s Quarantine mixtape in 2009. “The Truth Hurts: Vol. 1” featured Pimp G “The Truest” a.k.a. Jerry Vicious from Chicago and other various underground artists.
The following mixtape he released was titled “Shaolin Yankee”, a martial arts themed project that payed homage to the Wu-Tang Clan. It contained many metaphorical tracks like “P.O.W. - Prisoner Of Words”, “Sunglasses At Night”, and “Prophetic”. It featured several underground artists from across North America. This would be his final mixtape before an eight year hiatus from music. “I needed a break from music to live life and figure out what was best for me personally. I was having a hard time trying to figure out whether I really wanted to pursue record labels in the whole industry rat race, and then if I even got signed, have to deal with the debt of an advance and traveling constantly to get my name out there. The thought of being signed to a record label didn’t excite me, and I felt it would’ve limited my creativity. When it came to music, I wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do.”
In 2011, JC settled down and got married. “I was in love and ready to start a family. Not only did I want to be a husband and Dad, but I wanted to prove deep down I could break the cycle and be a better husband and parent than mine were. With that comes the need for more financial stability, so I put music on the back burner and focused on become a better visual artist. I wanted to make more money and have more security, but I still wanted to be an artist and stay creative.” And JC did, gaining recognition in the TV industry as a Motion Designer and Art Director, where he was nominated for several awards, including winning Gold and Bronze BDA’s as an Art Director and being nominated for a daytime Emmy Award for his work at NBC and MLB.
In 2012, JC and his wife decided to leave the fast paced life of NYC and bought a house in a quiet neighborhood in New Jersey. Three years later they welcomed their daughter into the world. “It was an amazing feeling and really grounded me as a man. I loved her the moment I saw her. I was so proud of my wife. I’ll never forget it, and yes, I cried like a little girl.”
While he and his wife were raising their daughter, JC began to get the itch for music again. “I’d been away from it for a while now, almost 8 years. I continued to write here and there, but I hadn’t recorded, mixed or produced anything. I had lived more life and felt there was more to talk about. I was inspired again and wanted to work on another album. I was ready for one more.” After a few feature verses for other underground artists, JC’s mind was made up, and he would begin his next album, Metamorphic.
Now with his album almost complete, he’s excited to see how people will react when it’s released in early 2020. “It’s a little more modern and polished than my pervious work. The beats are different, the flow is different. I think people will enjoy it and hopefully be able to take something away from it. There’s a lot of messages in this one. It’s about life, growing, evolving and moving on. Can’t wait for everyone to hear it, it may just be my last.”