Jawga Boyz Talk About New Album ‘Tailgate Music’, Working With Bubba Sparxxx And New Record Label D-Thrash Productions
Jawga Boyz are fiercly independent and stronger than ever. With a brand new album “Tailgate Music” that just dropped, a side project Jawga Sparxxx, and a brand new label full of new artists they are developing, Jawga Boyz are unstoppable. Rebel Row caught up with Jawga Boyz mastermind D-Thrash to talk about the new album, what it was like working with Bubba Sparxxx, and why they remain independent in recruitable times.
RR: Tell us how you approached the writing and recording “Tailgate Music” differently than previous Jawga Boyz albums…
D-Thrash: Well, when Jawga Boyz was first formed back in 2003, it was just me(D. Thrash), and Dez. And after several years, struggling to be heard, and Dez stepping away to focus on family, and work… everything we was doin kinda slowing down… until I wrote “I Can’t See My Paint Job”, and “Rollin Like A Redneck” in 2009, essentially as just a solo artist… but at the time, Jawga Boyz was still pulling up in Google search engines, so I kept the name, and just created an idea, that the “Boyz” part, was me and my friends. Not necessarily all of us had to be rappers or musicians. It was an idea, that we all have that “group” of friends we hang with…. well, the Jawga Boyz was mine… And to this day, every Jawga Boyz album, is primarily me. I do 85%-90% of all vocals you hear, unless there is a feature from another Hick-hop/Country Rap artist I’m producing or developing, or just another brother in the genre. I say all that, to say this…. “Tailgate Music” is the return of Dez…. and with his return, I really wanted his presence on the album to be HUGE, to show our fans, what I’ve known since 2003 when I started Jawga Boyz with him…. he’s a beast! Haha… so with this album, I handed him the keys, and “Tailgate Music” went the direction Dez wanted to take it. I sat in the backseat, to produce the album, add backup vocals, and sing a few hooks throughout the album. He had been away for almost 6 years… so he had LOTS of lyrics to purge from his system. We’re still promoting him as a solo artist, but I’ve talked with him recently about doing a throwback Jawga Boyz album, that is me and him 50/50 like old times…. creatively, and all. I’ll continue, to still do my own Jawga Boyz albums, with the same style our fans feel in love with from the start, but it’s also important to me, that the music always feels fresh, and not 12 tracks that could have been on a previous album. My musical and production skills have come so far in the last couple of years… I don’t try to evolve… it happens without trying.
RR: It sounds you are coming from a place where you are wearing heart on your sleeve lyrically on this album more so than previous records. Do you agree and if so why?
D-Thrash: Yes, I agree… this album was mostly written from Dez’s personal experiences, and I just basically added my flavor with the ideas he was coming up with. That’s what made this album, so unique and different from the previous (Jawga Boyz only) albums.
RR: This album is the first release on your new label D-Thrash Productions. Tell us a bit about the decision to start your own label verses signing with an established label?
D-Thrash: I spent several years shopping the “Kuntry” album to a couple of labels before and after it released. I had been asking for help, and kept getting closed doors, and no responses. Once I finally achieved some independent success, we had some labels and management companies reach out, and wanted us to sign, and do the Nashville thing. I talk a little about this in the song “Dream Chaser” from the Reloaded album, but basically after reading the contracts, and thinking about how far I’ve pushed myself, with NO label budgets, or any other help… other than our AWESOME fans, I decided to sign myself, and start my own label. I just have this “chip on my shoulder” mentality because; I feel…. if I wasn’t good enough then…. I shouldn’t be good enough now…. cause nothing has changed, except for our fan base… it’s easy to jump on board, now that the train is rollin’, ya feel me. It’s too late for them city crooks to stick their hand in this cookie jar.
RR: You’ve been quietly assembling some killer artists to D-Thrash like Porch Matthews, Boondock Kingz and Handz Onn. Tell us about the artists you signed and what each one brings to the table…
D-Thrash: Killer artists is right… to add to the list above, we’ve also signed Tennessee Shine, Teacher Preacher, Them Riverbank Boys, Dez of course, and my brother from West Virginia, Bluefoot, who was featured on a couple episodes of MTV’s Buckwild show, and was also best friends with Shain Gandee… the main guy from the show who passed away from a mudding accident. We’ll start with the BoonDock Kingz, they bring a raw hip hop flavor to hick-hop. They’ve lived on both sides of the fence, and it shows with their lyrics. They’ve been out here grindin for years, and when I was finally in the position to put them on the roster, they were the first act I signed. Porch Matthews showed up on my Twitter news feed one day, so I checked out his work… and the first track of his I listened to, I was sold. His rapping and writing abilities, were already at a high level, but it wasn’t until our first studio session… when I really found out how versatile he was. He pulled out his guitar, banjo, and mandolin… to play various tunes for me… and proceeded to sing as well. And to top it all off, Porch is an extremely humble guy, which is a requirement with our label. Handz Onn is out of Wisconsin, and is the only Hick-hop artist out that way, holding it down. What I love about our roster, is everyone’s style is different. Handz Onn is one of the hardest working guys in the business, and he always delivers with his music! Tennessee Shine, is an acoustic Hick-hop group… Pretty much every Hick-hop group, or artist, has an acoustic song on their album somewhere… but every Tennessee Shine song, is acoustic. Their unique style, and sound, is completely different from anyone else in the genre, which is why I felt they were a perfect fit for the label. It’s all about diversity, and no 2 acts sounding the same. Even though I’m an artist, writer, producer, and label CEO… I’m a fan before anything else. I’m a fan, of all of these acts… Teacher Preacher had been doing some work with the BoonDock Kingz, and I’d heard several of his own tracks in the past as well. It was a no brainer to get him on board. He has an unmistakable southern flow, to his rhymes… and is one of the best “hook masters” in Hick-hop, meaning he can take a mediocre track/song, and make it HOT, by writing and recording a crunk hook to the song. Lots of big things coming from Teacher. Our boy Dez, has got to be one of the best lyricist in Hick-hop, not to mention he is one of the fastest rappers in the genre too. If you really wanna know what Dez is all about, just listen to the “Tailgate Music” album, from beginning to end. He speaks for himself… especially in the track “Born With It”. Bluefoot, out of West Virginia, is… well I hate to sound like a broken record… but his style and flow, is so unique… he doesn’t sound like anyone else out there, and his heavy WV accent reminds you, that he’s as real as it gets. He’s got a lot to prove, because there have been several folks, who have doubted, whether he is truly a musician…. well…. when his debut album drops, those questions will be answered. Bluefoot has a fire that burns inside him, and as we release more of his music in the future, you’ll hear the passion in his voice, with every lyric. Our newest addition, a group that is only a couple of months in the makings, Them Riverbank Boys… a duo of country rappers, who basically sold me, after I heard the first 2 songs they sent. It was clear, these guys know what they’re doing… I predict big things from these guys… it’s only beginning for them.
RR: What is one the release schedule for the rest of 2015?
D-Thrash: Don’t have a detailed release schedule for 2015, for I don’t set any release dates, for any projects until they’re completed… and I don’t like to set deadlines for projects either, because it takes time for any album to come together, and I don’t put that D-Thrash Productions logo on it, until I know there’s nothing else I can do to make this record/album any better. It’s a very meticulous process, but once these albums are released. There’s no going back and changing or adding something you wished you would have.
RR: You’ve said that you were originally influenced by Bubba Sparxxx. Do you remember where you were when you first heard his music and what was it about his music back then that spoke to you?
D-Thrash: The first things about Bubba, that intrigued me… was he was a white country boy… rapping… who was also reppin Athens, GA.. which is where I live, and was partying on a regular basis at the time. It just completely, triggered the whole Jawga Boyz formation. At the time, we were 16 years old, and were talking about how cool it would be, if Bubba ever signed us to New South…. man if we could just get Bubba to hear us one time… we’d be on!
RR: So how do you go from being a fan of Bubba Sparxxx, to meeting him and eventually starting the supergroup Jawga Sparxxx with him?
D-Thrash: This was the moment when I told myself, “If all of this ended today I’m good with it” because I got to make a record with Bubba Sparxxx. It all started when we met at an event, where we were both performing at. Just to meet Bubba, was a dream come true.We just got to talking, and the idea came up, that he wanted me to produce a couple of songs for him. When he came to my studio, to work on those songs…. our creative energies, kept coming up with really cool song ideas together, and by the 3rd straight day of working together, we threw around the idea of making a half Jawga Boyz, half Bubba Sparxxx album… and just see what we come up with. We ended up recording the album in about 3 months, and I had to pinch myself every day he was here… still trips me out when I think about it. Bubba is a legend, and always will be. Doesn’t matter what anyone says, Bubba started this entire movement, all by himself. Some folks out there wanna deny it, but you can’t hide the facts.
RR: Talk a bit about Jawga Sparxxx album “Muddy Days and Drunken Nights”. How is it different from writing an recording a Jawga Boyz album?
D-Thrash: Me and Bubba, literally split the creativity on this album 50/50. Some hooks I wrote, and he performed… some hooks he wrote, and I performed… I mean we shared equal responsibilities on this one. We also inspired each other. I personally hit a creative stride during the production, that I hadn’t had in years… and I feel like I may have done the same for him. Jawga Boyz albums usually come together much slower than this one…. but the way we were inspiring each other, it kept things moving along.
RR: Was the album recorded together in a studio or recorded separate? How does the musical chemistry work with members and does it push you as an artist to work with an OG like Bubba?
D-Thrash: Bubba came to the D-Thrash Productions studio, and every song was written and recorded on the spot. He would never show up with lyrics already written… we would vibe to a track, toss around song ideas, and begin writing together. Bubba is truly a professional, and as a producer…. Bubba was the easiest artist I’ve ever recorded vocals for. He literally nailed every verse on the first take…. that’s why he’s Hick-hop royalty.
RR: Who is the most underrated hick-hop artist in the scene right now?
D-Thrash: Haha… well… I’ll be honest, every one of the acts I’ve signed. They’re all getting ready to make their own marks in the history of Hick-Hop…
RR: What do you think of artist like Big Smo who are dabbling in reality television and what does it mean for artists like you?
D-Thrash: I think it’s great. It just means, mainstream keeps getting more and more curious about what is going on out here… The YouTube numbers don’t lie. Radio may want to deny us all airplay, but radio is also dying… maybe that’s why radio is dying… it’s become too predictable… owned and ran by these old school millionaires, who make a funny face when you say the words Country Rap… still waiting for the genius that puts hick-hop only, on an FM station. All these internet and satellite stations don’t count to me… Anyone can make one of those.