The next biggest talent in rap isn’t from Atlanta, New York, L.A., or South Florida. He’s never performed any of his tracks, which is fascinating when you consider how heavily the newer generation of artists relies on booking as many shows as they can. Any and all music you can find of him online was put out just in the past 18 months, and his latest EP was developed within a week. But the only thing you really need to take away is that he’s hungry, and he’s definitely ready.
Stephen Jailon (Juh•Lon) is a 21 year old artist from Raleigh, N.C., a city which he describes as having “a hint of everything”. When I first found out about Jailon I was absolutely captivated by all aspects of his artistry, primarily his overall sound and image.
Jailon includes Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Travis Scott as his early influences; influences which are immediately recognizable in his hard-hitting production, infectious flows, and utilization of vocal effects and muffled Auto-tune to create his dark, ambient, atmospheric sound. Like Kanye and Travis in their early stages of their careers, Jailon produces a majority of his own tracks, as he began making beats as early as 15.
Perhaps what made me an even bigger fan of Jailon is his overall aesthetic and the way he sticks to it; as a rising artist, the ability to understand that there’s more to the game than just making music is truly vital. His cover art, the short visuals he releases from time to time, and various other pictures across his Instagram and Twitter show the lengths which he, his co-director Anthony Seberry, and the rest of his Ali Road team go to in order to craft a distinct image of who Stephen Jailon actually is.
The year 2017 truly proved Jailon’s tireless work ethic and dedication to his craft, as kicked off the year with his debut EP Jai, and dropped off a few more tracks just a couple weeks later. After releasing material consistently over the next few months and seeing his biggest song “Harolina” hit 100k on Soundcloud after only 6 months (now at 230k), Jailon delivered a second EP, 2 Minute Warning in September, and a third EP 4th Quarter in October.
Jailon’s last effort of the year came December 30th, in the form of a 10-track EP titled Foul Play (which was re-released for his birthday today onto all streaming platforms). The project is his longest work to date, as he continues to curate his sound from EP to EP, while also showing off his potential for bigger and better.
And while he’s yet to perform any of his music at shows and concerts, Jailon’s early tracks like “Luca Brasi” and “Bezel“, and newer ones like “New Wrist” and “Foreign Pieces” show off his ability to create hits that could easily have crowds jumping and just turnt in general, and after speaking to him it’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before we see that happen…
First off, can you tell me a little about what life was like growing up in Raleigh and just Carolina in general?
Jailon: Raleigh has a hint of everything, like most cities you can get a peek of everything if you really search for it. But as far as coming up in Raleigh…we’re smart kids just brought up in different situations, some tougher some less.
How did you get into music to begin with? Is it something you always wanted to do or something you just ended up in?
Jailon: I grew up playing drums naturally, later learned a little self-taught piano to be modest. But after building up enough courage to go from producer to artist…here we are….
At what point did you decide to really begin taking it seriously?
Jailon: Honestly it was when I really started noticing that I give mad energy, time, effort and thought to the craft. All in all though I’m always going to be making music, I genuinely like the process.
Can you tell me a little bit about your team over at Ali Road Studios?
Jailon: Me and my Co-Director Anthony Seberry have started from the ground up and have just been blessed to attach the pieces along the way and we still are. I definitely owe them everything though.
I love Soundcloud EPs cause I think they’re the best way for rising artists like yourself to really build an audience and a following, and even in some cases show progression you know? In what ways would you say Foul Play differs from your previous EPs?
Jailon: Foul Play was really something that came about when producers/artists like Xone & DJ 9 were just running some joints by me, and we just spazzed for a week with no sleep. I wanted to give a different energy in regards to making more music my city could play and ride around late to.
When I first started listening to your music there was something about songs like “Harolina” or “Morning” that immediately reminded me of Travis Scott, and with your latest EP a lot of the songs make me think of Tory Lanez. Would you say that these two have an influence on your overall sound in general?
Jailon: Wouldn’t say overall, but they have paved a way and built a platform for artist like me to stand on. True or False ?
What’s your favorite and least favorite aspect about producing your own music cause I noticed you do a lot of that….
Jailon: My favorite thing of course is being control of the sound; more often than not I feel a deeper connection when making a track due to the fact I’m probably humming the shit while making it. I don’t really dislike anything about producing my own music really but collaboration is key.
What does life outside your music look like?
Jailon: Outside of music I’m usually heavy ground researching, redefining ideas and staying inspired by having conversations with my phone off.
One of my favorite Foul Play tracks is “Fayetteville St.“, and I read a little bit about the significance of that street but can you tell me what it means to you?
Jailon: I think every creative in Raleigh has worked on that street. Also it’s a street I’ve met some of the dopest people on.
Can you talk a little bit about the importance of having an overall aesthetic as a rising artist? Cause when looking your cover arts in addition to the pictures you post on social media I can definitely tell that you put a lot into crafting your image…
Jailon: The importance is crucial, when I first started producing I sought interest in design and just learned and been cooking up along the way.
I saw that you dropped a couple clips on your IG with Foul Play tracks playing over them, at what point do you think you’ll begin developing full-length visuals for your songs?
Jailon: Time will tell….
What will 2018 be for Stephen Jailon? What would you like to achieve?
Jailon: Growth. That’s what we need to do as humans, just grow within ourselves.