Ajani Jones is one of the most talented artists in Chicago, you just may not know of him yet. I first discovered Ajani’s music late last year when the homie Kiraly put me on to his project “Eternal Bliss”, and after running through the EP dozens of times I became a huge fan of what he was doing. He made an appearance on our “Top 50 Chicago Projects Of 2017” list a couple months back and for good reason too, as he possess an insane amount of potential & unmatched rapping abilities. A couple days back Ajani dropped a stellar new EP titled Cocoons, and mark my words when I say that when we look back on the year of 2018 of Chicago rap, this project will stand out in the bunch. I predict that he will become one of the faces of Chicago rap in a couple years and with his new team Closed Sessions backing him, the sky is truly the limit for Ajani. I am excited to see where he takes it from here but for now stream this brand new tape below, take a few minutes of your time learn a thing or two about him & afterwards be to sure to give him a follow on Twitter here! (photo credit – Cooper Fox)
EM: Before we dive into the questions, give our readers who may not be familiar with you a brief introduction of yourself.
AJ: My name is Ajani Jones, I went to Thornton township high school in Harvey IL. I went to college to University of Iowa on a scholarship but then I transferred to Columbia to get back in tune with the movement here.
EM: Where are you from?
AJ: Southside of Chicago
EM: What is your earliest memory of music?
AJ: I was nine when my mom would play Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, etc. Neo Soul was really big at the time on the south side back in 2004, I remember that time feeling spiritually. My mom is my best friend and still is, she put me on to all of that music and it stuck. I remember when she bought Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, it was game over from there.
EM: When did you first start creating music?
AJ: I started on Audicity at 16 & I got into Logic at 17 – 19. Then my laptop got stolen when I was staying at Iowa over the summer and I didn’t have anything left to do but write the music you are hearing now.
EM: What/who inspired you to become an emcee?
AJ: It’s a combination of Ludacris, Lupe Fiasco, Eminem
EM: How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened before?
AJ: Its for the kids, Neo Soul/Hip-hop.
EM: Who are your top five biggest influences musically?
EM: What are your top five favorite albums of all time?
Man On The Moon – Kid Cudi
Graduation – Kanye
Kendrick Lamar – GKMC
Lupe Fiasco – The Cool
Bob Marley & The Wellers – Legend
EM: What are your top five mixtapes?
Joey Badass – 1999
Vic Mensa – Innanetape
10 Day & Acid Rap – Chance
A Kid Named Cudi – Kid Cudi
Friday Night Lights – J. Cole
EM: What was the first album you ever bought?
AJ: Ludacris Red Light District
EM: What’s your favorite music video?
AJ: I gotta say Day N’ Nite by Kid Cudi
EM: If you could collab with one person dead & alive who would it be?
Alive – Kanye
Dead – J. Dilla
EM:I first discovered you because of your project Eternal Bliss, what was the process of creating that like?
AJ: I made it really for women, from my experience of that year. I was trying to paint a Chicago summer with a ton of positive energy, ambition and marijuana smoke.
EM: Can you speak on your relationship with producers Blookah, Quickly & Banks?
AJ: I was recording in my homies bedroom and they sent us over some beats and I was instantly asking “How is this guy not famous”. He sent me a bunch of futuristic and wavy beats that I didn’t touch for a year or two, until I went back to them and created a whole project. I have been working very closely with Banks, he has engineered my last four projects & he’s producing a lot of my project this summer.
EM: What is your relationship with Kiraly Payne?
AJ: We linked because my step dad knows his mother, they put us in contact and we had a show together at Columbia last year.
EM: Are there any local Chicago rappers that you have been listening to?
AJ: Marko Stat$, Osa, Musa Reems, Jay Wood, Imynoah, Solo Sam
EM: So you recently announced that you are working with Chicago’s own Closed Sessions, what convinced you to sign with them?
AJ: I have been following them since they had Alex Wiley, they did a great job building his career and they did it again with Kweku and others. I saw that they had the ability to help artists get to that next level with their resources, and they are fantastic with rolling out projects & have great PR. I moved back to Chicago from Iowa and told myself ” in two years I’m going to sign with Closed Sessions”, and it just so happened on the second year I did it”.
EM: Along with the CS announcement you recently released a brand new EP titled “Cocoons”, can you speak on what the process of creating that was like.
AJ: It was really dope, we met with CS & they asked us where we were at with the EP we said 20% but we were really at zero. I ended up completing the entire project in less than two months. We made like twenty records for the tape and picked the ones we thought fit best. It was dope & seamless, we are on a roll over at CS, everything is running smoothly.
EM: Who are some Chicago rappers you want to work with in the future?
AJ: Mick Jenkins , Noname, Saba, Chance
EM: Who are some producers you want to work with in the future?
AJ: Kaytranada, 9th Wonder, Sango, Steve Lacy, Flying Lotus, Boi1Da, Kanye, MF Doom & Madlib
EM: What’s your favorite book
AJ: Native Son
EM: The National Anthem or The International Players Anthem?
AJ: The International Players Anthem
EM: What can our readers expect from you for the rest of 2018?
AJ: A project titled Dragonfly, it’s about me blooming & introducing myself to everybody. I will also be opening up for Kweku Collins on his west coast tour, which is my first tour so I am looking forward to it.
EM: Last question, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
AJ: A leader in the hip-hop community, leading the kids & giving out good vibrations.
Mixed/Mastered By Mike Kolar @ Soundscape Studios