JL - "Next Summer"

For their latest release, the team at Equal Eyes Records have teamed up with Boomslang producer / occasional emcee, JL. Next Summer is a headphone vacation, overflowing with ideas. 

That's nothing new for JL, whose beats are influenced by Talking Heads and Adamski as much as Pete Rock.  JL is an omni-genre music lover who has been devouring stacks of vinyl for decades now.  Regulars at Charlie-O's may also know him as the lynchpin of synth pop throwback Champagne Dynasty -- that kind of verb-heavy, 80's-tastic, cocaine wonderland feel permeates a few tracks on Next Summer, too. There's also tons of boom bap, a few detours through the world music section, and all kinds of funk.

I caught up with the maestro himself for a quick talk about the latest project. 


VTHH: Did you really get that fortune cookie on the cover that says "Next summer, you will dance to a different beat" ?

JL:  I really did. That was from a cookie at P.F. Chang's, when I was down in Baltimore earlier this summer.  It made an impact on many levels, in that moment, and I knew right away it would be part of the artwork.

VTHH: How has your experience been working with the Equal Eyes team?

JL: Working with them has been a blessing.  It's a situation where they've done everything possible to help support the project, and then some.  It's an awesome environment for a producer.  I've always loved those Rico James and iLLu beats and production, and they have basically made me feel like a family member from beginning.  They're already after me for the next collection of beats!!

VTHH: Are you surprised it took until 2018 for an 802 hip hop record label to happen? I seem to recall that Boomslang were/are founding members of the State & Main collective, so you're an OG already.

JL: Yes!  Shout out State and Main and definitely Boomslang! I've got nothing but love, always.  It is a bit of a surprise it took until 2018 to make an 802 hip hop label happen, but well worth the wait.  The Equal Eyes team is really committed and making serious run this year, right out of the gates.  When they approached me about doing an instrumental album, I was all in from the jump.  

VTHH: Next Summer is all over the place but still fits together nicely. Are you always trying to orchestrate lots of styles?

JL: Thank you.  I need to mix it up when making new tracks, to stay interested.  I'd say there is a range of styles throughout Next Summer.  There is definitely a fair amount of funk and sunshine spread through the mix and at different tempos than I had been previously working with.

VTHH: Is doing solo instrumental albums something that excites you going forward? Can we expect more of these funkpuppies?

JL: Most likely. I’m taking a few steps back from performing (with Boomslang) but feel really inspired to keep developing as a beat maker and producer.  I’ve got a handful of tracks for the next round of instrumentals but there’s a completely different vibe. It’s exciting. I feel like I’m doing whatever I want in the studio and it’s coming out fresh. I look forward to sharing it. 

Justin Boland