Remember that Saturday night, during the summer of your senior year in high school? Your ’96 Honda Civic was full of gas, someone’s older brother snuck you and your friends a bottle of cheap Bacardi and the world was yours…..yea that feeling. That’s a vibe. While its true vibes can be good and bad, the good ones never really go away; those are the moments you chase forever.
A duo out of North Carolina is making it their creative business to help you get that feeling back. Coming out of Edenton, North Carolina producer J-Mac teamed up with Elizabeth City emcee/songwriter, Phocuz and created one of the must have indie projects of 2017.
SheBuzzin got a chance to meet with the masters of chill and talk about everything that went into what they call a “professional demo” rather than an EP “Vibes R Eternal”.
There’s something to be said about the environment someone’s talent is nurtured in, and J-Mac and Phocuz had one of the best. The team met while they were in college, J-Mac at NC State and Phocuz at NC Central. Outside of regular school courses the guys took part in a music production lab taught by the illustrious, legendary producer 9th Wonder of Little Brother. Working with someone of 9th’s caliber certainly influenced the style of J-Mac as a producer and Phocuz as a lyricist. Their use of soulful, jazz influenced beats and crazy samples of 90’s classics are a direct reflection of their superb grooming.
Thank God for Auntie….
“I hated 2pac as a kid, but my aunt loved him, so by force I listened and then I grew to admire his creativity, that was one of my earliest introductions into hiphop.” I asked Phocuz and J-Mac who they looked to for influence in their respective fields and the answers were surprising yet justifiable. For production J-Mac listed Just Blaze, Pharrel and of course 9th Wonder. Phocuz noted Nas, Jay Z, and Beanie Single as his influences with being an emcee. On their 7-track EP it’s clear they have a knack for creative wordplay over epic, nostalgia filled beats; keeping them right on board with the ones they look up to.
We Are the Gatekeepers….
With artists such as J-Cole and the aforementioned 9th Wonder and Little Brother, many breakout NC artists are already expected to give term paper thesis style raps on every track. J-Mac and Phocuz don't want to be pushed into that box….but they don't mind standing around it. “I think it’s up to us to create and stamp a sound of NC, create an identity” “Whether it’s lyrical or anything else, if we create it and have a wave of artist that perfect that sound, no one can deny the talent that could come from NC.” J-Mac added, “true enough every artist might not sound like Cole or even Phocuz but having them us to show the range of our area is needed, and I think we can handle that responsibility.”
Who They Do it For…..
When I asked the guys whom they hoped to grab with their music their answer was an astounding…everyone. “We came from small towns in NC, we’re telling the stories of regular people” J-Mac stated, Phocuz then added “On our single “On My Mind” I mentioned my bus pass that I really had, me and my friends were really going through those situations, where we had to find the balance between music and a relationship. It’s something for everyone.” “Our main goal was making relatable timeless music.” I quickly told the guys I think their mission was accomplished.
Certainly different in approach, these two aren’t taking any shortcuts. Phocuz who is a close friend of new Epic Records signee Swift and J-Mac who still has works with 9th Wonder aren’t looking for homeboy hookups. They want to be respected as creatives and leaders in a movement that give their home a sound and a voice, all while creating some never-ending vibes along the way. Their “professional demo” (as they call it) Vibes Are Eternal is available now on Live Mixtapes.