In 2017 we witnessed what some may consider a resurgence of R&B music, with new acts like Khalid, Brent Faiyaz, H.E.R., and Daniel Caesar making a huge impact in the culture. Outside of Grammy nominated songstress, SZA, we have yet to see many singers emerge from the Garden State in recent years. However, Camden, New Jersey-based singer/song-writer, JDope intends to make 2018 his breakout year.
Throughout high school, JDope excelled in multiple sports, where he was one of the of top prospects in the South Jersey area. He went on to attend Delaware State University, but like many students of color, he struggled to survive due to lack of funds and resources. JDope eventually left school to follow his dreams and became a member of New Jersey Hip-hop group, BlakGang. After several years within the group, JDope is now pursuing a solo career.
RESPECT. had a chance to connect with JDope and learn a bit more about his inspirations, growing up in Camden, and premiere the gritty, official music video for his Kenif Muse-produced “Cold” single. Read JDope’s RESPECT. interview below.
When did you first realize that you should pursue a career as a singer?
JDope: High school is when I first started to play with music but around 2012 / 2013 is when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in music, doing a mixture of singing and rapping.
How did you feel your time with BlakGang prepared you for your solo career?
JDope: BlakGang taught me a lot. How to structure music, how to move, how not to move, how to value relationships and how to make real music. Blakgang taught me what I know today, which made me who I am today.
What was it like growing up in Camden?
JDope: When I was young, growing up in Camden was fun honestly.. playing jailbreak, kicking trash cans, cap gun fights etc… My grandfather and uncle lived on the same block for over 30 years Kenwood Ave in Parkside.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you face as an R&B act in Camden?
JDope: Camden is a city full of crime, so it’s a place where trap and hood music is most respected. I feel that it will take the city a couple songs to adapt to my diverse artistry.
We notice a handful of your singles have a breezy, tropical feel. How intentional is this, and overall, how would you describe your music?
JDope: Island vibes are my favorite type of music to make, although I have many vibes and wouldn’t want to categorize my style to one. I can make any type of record.
How do you feel about recent comparisons you’re receiving to Akon?
JDope: My new record “Cold” flips Akon’s hit single “Locked Up” Ft. Styles P. Akon is a legend.. I’m still impressed by the music he gave to the world . He’s very diverse and I want my catalog to give the same effect.
When it comes to R&B, who are you some of your inspirations?
JDope: My inspirations are Chris Brown, Drake, R. Kelly, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz, Omarion, Akon, of course, and many more.
“eXposed” is one of your most popular releases to date. What was the creative process for this track, and did you expect it to do this well?
JDope: eXposed was record I wrote shortly after a break up. I felt like the relationship was not based around trust and it turned out my partner had not been the most honest with me. So I titled the song “eXposed” because what you do in the dark will always come to the light. I did not expect it to do as well as it did being one of my first solo singles while still being in a group but I appreciate all the fans who have listened to the record and continue to listen.
What can listeners expect you to release next? Do you have any upcoming shows?
JDope: For my next release, listeners can expect something great from me. No upcoming shows just yet I have been working hard focusing on my first body of work. A ton of upcoming material so stay tuned!
Watch the EazyMelow X Plum Creek Productions-directed “Cold” music video above, and keep up-to-date with all things JDope by following him on Instagram here.