Gentle Jones is, without a doubt, one the foremost authorities on the history of Delaware Hip Hop and is an aficionado of the genre and music in general. Gentle, who is a fierce lyricist himself, bore witness to milestones such as The Project X explosion, has written for Hip Hop juggernaut Allhiphop.com and has produced and promoted shows for 20 years throughout Delaware, including iconic, popular culture venues like the defunct 4W5 Cafe (also known as Wild Child Cafe) and East End Cafe (Now Mojo Main). He is intricately woven into the fabric of our urban music culture. Currently, Gentle is playing a major role (on da low) in the highly anticipated appearance of KRS-ONE at Mojo Main. Gentle says that he plans to start a movement to bring Rap royalty of this caliber to Delaware more often. With power moves such as these, after more than 20 years in the game, one has to recognize Gentle Jones as Hip Hop O.G. and give the man his proper respect. DHH was honored get an exclusive interview with GJ.
Gentle spit these bars in one take!
DHH: Where are you from?GJ: Delaware all day. I live in Wilmington, near Prices Corner. DHH: Your lyrics are crazy! There is a lot of dope, tongue twistin’ wordplay. What does it take and what is the importance or lack thereof of being lyrical in the game today?
GJ: Thank you for the kind words.Being lyrical and having interesting wordplay are the sharpest tools a writer can have. By lyrical I mean specifically using poetic imagery, like William Shakespere or Khalil Gibran do. To turn a phrase with subtle fancy. Few rappers these days are lyrical. Nas is one of those guys who will just make a statement with a few words that make you stop and reflect on his rhyme. Wordplay, on the other hand, is the way the lyrics interlace, the math you put on your rhymes. Some rappers have great word play and crap lyrics. Like Asher Roth. I find artists who use them both hold my attention the best.DHH: You wear a lot of hats; a journalist, a hip hop artist and I would say you’re a hip hop historian and aficianado. Which of these most defines you and why?
GJ: In order to master a craft I think the best way to learn your own path is to study the work of the masters who came before, in any discipline. So I read more than I write. I listen more than I speak. The readers and listeners are the only ones who can judge which role suits me best. I am only doing what comes natural to me, and I have always loved music.DHH: I saw you on a documentary on PBS talking about Project X and hip hop history in Delaware. Can you share some insight as to that movement and that era of rap in DE History?
GJ: Delaware has always been at the forefront of every American musical movement. Years ago we had famous Jazz clubs right in Wilmington which drew all the legends you still hear of to this day. Rock and Roll we have George Thorogood who is a world class performer and writer. Hardcore we have bands like Stormwatch, My Body My Blood, Hard Response which are beloved in many countries around the world. Hip-Hop we have so many dope acts since the 1980’s dropping hot tracks on wax and tapes. Many of these cats are my personal friends. One thing particular to Delaware Hip-Hop is that many of the artists who put out the best, earliest rap records got too deep in the coke game and were entirely side tracked, either by addiction or prison. My advice is to take care of your self and put the music first. Don’t compromise your ideals because some mistakes last forever.DHH: Do you feel like DE has a strong hip hop movement now and is there any potential for break out artist? GJ: Delaware has always had an awesome underground music scene and scores of artists who might break through at any time. I would love to see it happen. I am doing a show next month with KRS One so obviously Delaware is still relevant and hip-hop is alive and well right here. DHH: In either case is there anything that DE artists can do better or differently to facilitate commercial success and is that commercial success, the machine, even important?
GJ: This is what I try to do and what I would encourage any Delaware artist to do: Make timeless music. Make something that stands on its own and has your heart and soul in it. You do not know when the next person will discover what you’ve done, but keep working and you will be heard. If your album sounds like today’s Top 40, then next year it will sound like last year. If your music sounds like you and only you then 100 years from now it should still sound fresh to a new listener.DHH: Have I missed any of your talents and what else would you have people know about you to gain more insight into your talents and passion for hip hop and music?
GJ: Beyond music I shoot and edit film, I’ve created several television pilots, won awards in film festivals, won many skateboard trophies, I’ve preached in churches, written for national publications, shoot photos, voice acting, really I try my hand at anything I find interesting.
Check out my videos I have many many styles: