(images taken by Jason Goodrich)
Two years, you couldn’t go anywhere without noticing the enticing, catchy two-step sound as it dominated the airwaves. The hook would have you wanting to hire an translator or download the google translate app to perfect the craft of annunciation. “She said “Hola, ¿Cómo estás?”, she said “Konnichiwa” She said “Pardon my French”, I said “Bonjour Madame”/ Then she said “Sak pase” and I said “N’ap boule”/ No matter where I go, you know I love ’em all. The hook was penned by no other than Florida’s finest Kent Jones, as his song “Don’t Mind” was a formal introduction to hip hop and to America as the next superstar in the making.
The track went on to peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over a million copies. In addition, it did major numbers in the streaming communities as it broke records by being streamed over 170 million times. Now that’s a major key for the We The Best phenom who was discovered by Cool of the legendary hit making producer team, Cool & Dre. But don’t get it twisted, Kent is more than an artist. He is a producer who cooked up some dope work for some of your favorite emcees such as Ace Hood, and The Game. In addition, if you needed some bars from the Tallahasse native, he can provide some elite lyrical wordplay with the best of them. Prime example of this is his guest cameo with some of culture’s most respected emcees such as Fabolous, Jadakiss, Fat Joe, and Busta Rhymes on DJ Khaled‘s “Don’t You Ever Play Yourself” which was on Khaled’s “Major Key” tenth studio album. The 24-year-old talent can do it all and is ready for America to take wind of his greatness at hand.
Inspired by the icon himself Quincy Jones, Kent is on a mission and that is to knock everyone upside the head with beautiful chart topping music that will last forever. His charismatic, colorful personality and wise soul are attributes that will win over the heart of millions of fans who needs more clarity of how great he is. After all, “Don’t Mind” was just the appetizer to the great things he has in his repertoire. With his latest single “Merengue” creating major buzz, Kent is on the move to dominate the summer season.
RESPECT. Magazine was able to catch up with Khaled’s protege as he is putting in the work to position himself to go on a monstrous 2nd half run of 2018.
RESPECT: You was able to have a successful introduction to hip hop and America with your hit single “Don’t Mind”. How were you able to intricate an smooth harmonic flow while staying to your Florida roots?
KJ: Well I wanted to stay to my Florida roots, by combining all the things that surrounded me growing up. I stayed not too far from where Kodak Black is from. But with this song, I basically wanted to use the basics of introducing myself or saying hello through all elements of language through different cultures just how it is in my native town of Florida. You know if you google how to greet a person in French it’s “Bonjour”. For Japanese, it’s “Konnichiwa”. Everyone knows for Spanish, it’s “Hola, Como estas”. As basic as it is, it’s the uniform way to basically say hello and wanting to get to know someone.
RESPECT: The song went #1 on the Billboard charts in hip hop and r&b category. It peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Got over 170 million streams. Did you ever fathom that this track was gonna be that successful? Why?
KJ: Nah, actually that’s one of the songs I left off of my mixtape, Tours. There were 3 songs I decided to leave off the project. I so happened to play it for a couple of heads and they suggested that I need to put this out there. I was skeptical about it but man, I just said “f*** it, let’s go on and do it”. Long and behold, I’m traveling all over the place performing this song and been doing it for the past two years.
RESPECT: After the track hit it big, Khaled’s confidence in you definitely grew as you made a couple of guest appearances. What really stuck out for me was when you appeared on a bar heavy track called “Don’t You Ever Play Yourself”. What was the experience like coming up with lyrics after noticing you was gonna be on the track with some of hip hop’s most elite lyricists?
KJ: I mean Uncle Bus already knew I can rap. Even Cool and Fab knew this too. They all knew I got bars. It was just a shock to some because they saw me as a artist /producer. There’s a saying Lil Wayne used when he was working with Drake on a track and he said “you can’t come to the studio looking for ammo when you suppose to already have the heat locked and loaded”. So they played the track for me before I got to the studio. I wrote the verse on a flight to LA and was done with it by the time I got off of it.
RESPECT: Did the pressure ever get to you while you was working on the verse? If it did, what were some of the things to help the creative process flow easy for you?
KJ: To be honest, I didn’t feel any pressure from them. Now if it was someone like Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Hov, Drake or Dr. Dre, then that’s a completely different ball game. But like I said, uncle Bus already knew I can rap but he didn’t knew that I can really snap like that. When it was time for me to record it, the rest was history. Uncle Buss made an screw face and told me that the ending of it was just ugly and disrespectful. *chuckles*
RESPECT: Recently, you introduce the world to a new track and visual called “Merengue”. It’s a different song compared to your first track. More uptempo, easy to dance to. Can you break down the inspiration and motivation towards create this song?
KJ: Just like how I did with “Don’t Mind”, I wanted to go back to my roots growing up in Florida and my experience dealing with Hispanic women. I dealt with a lot of Hispanic women out there. It made me appreciate the way they had held me down. Through the good and not so good, how they cook for me, they supported me through the thick and thin. I have all the love and respect to them for the way they loved me for me and have always supported me. I wanted to bring that aspect of it out on this song.
(image provided by Epic Records)
RESPECT: Whose idea was it to get Khaled to snatch your lady like that and give his signature bachata dance moves?
KJ: Oh you already know he had to get himself involved with it. It’s crazy because as much as people laugh at his two step, no I should rather said 4 step move, people still can’t do it tho. I bet there’s people out there who get in front of the mirror to learn it and practice it but still can’t perfect it. At the end of the day, I tell Khaled this and he should already know that he’s a legend. That man is a legend for the stuff he created and amazing moments he had for hip hop. I love that guy.
RESPECT: The song is progressing to become a fan favorite. You recently performed it for a different group of crowds. The young group such as MTV’s TRL and the much more late night mature audience such as Jimmy Kimmel Live. How were you able to successfully showcase the versatility of how fun the track can be into any surroundings?
KJ: Man, it was dope and fun performing for the young crowd. Everyone vibed out and loved it. What crazy about it is I was on MTV’s “Wild-N-Out”. Nick Cannon requested me to be a guest star on the show which I was flattered. I had a great time acting a fool with all of the crew and I know next time when I come back, I’m coming with nothing but jokes because that’s what I do when I’m not in the booth. The young generation can connect with me because I’m just like them. Fun, easy going who loves a good time. When I performed on the Jimmy Kimmel show, I was able to impress the audience with my piano solo. But the main thing I was able to notice about performing on two different shows with two different audiences is how much of a “feel good song” it is and that no matter how old you are or where you are from, this is a song that you can dance, and sing along towards.
RESPECT: You’re known to be a true definition of a musician. Rapper, producer , singer. Which component was the most difficult for you to showcase to your fans in this track?
KJ: It depends what kind of project or production I am working on. I look at it from a cooking perspective. You can’t bring seasoning when it comes to making a cake. You can’t bring icing when it comes to making steak. You can’t put a candle on top of a steak. There’s a formula when it comes to making a hit record. You got to create a ultra catchy hook, then follow by a catchy hook, 8 bar verse at least, then its back to a catchy hook. A good example is my collabo with Ty Dolla $ign, E-40 & Lil Dicky. We did a song called “Sit Down” and I go “Hey, baby, you there/Light skin, thick with the blue hair/Red ‘Lenciagas, got a new pair/Every real hood bitch do hair/Hey, won’t you come here?/Get down, you know how I get down/Tell your hatin’ home girls, sit down/Take a seat, sit down”. Nice catchy hook and it wasn’t too much. Another example is Migos’s hit, “Bad & Boujee”. They got the ultra hook that stood out and everyone remembers; “Raindrops, Droptop….”. Then there’s the hook; “Offset..WOO WOO WOO WOO”. It really works and if you don’t use it properly then you got to know why.
RESPECT: What’s next for you? What fans should be looking out for?
KJ: Well I got a album coming out called “Get out Your Mama’s House”. I called it that because I’ve been hustling since I was 18. That’s when I left and I made it happened the hard way. Look at it as this. Freshman’s had to leave the house to go to college. You go there to get a great education to get a great job so why?! You can leave your mama’s house. You work hard to stack money so you don’t have to be under your mama house. Hell, for all the haters out there, who don’t know they don’t have s*** going on, leave ya mama house. I already did 4-5 tracks for the project in which some of the game’s heavy hitters are on there. I can’t give out the names but trust me, we bout to have the summer on lock with this one.
Major moves are on deck for Kent as fans should be taking notice of the dope stuff that will be hitting the streets soon from the We The Best star. But for now, enjoy “the calm” as the “major wave” Jones is building up is bound to add on to his already outstanding legacy in the game.