lifting the lid on south central la in a new documentary
We premiere Jay305's new film here, and speak to him about the reality of life in Los Angeles.
"Reality, definition state of being real. Real thing, fact, fuck peace because they are killing us." So begins rapper Jay 305's new documentary, South Central Slums, a 13-minute long narrative surrounding his childhood neighbourhood.
The DIY film bluntly highlights the experiences of South Central L.A. residents. Although Jay 305 left Cali for Miami at age 11 because of gang violence, he retains a local's sense of place. Broken up into three parts—Fuck Peace, Go Get No Gimmes, and Taking All Bets—there are moments where Jay 305 talks to boys and men living in the community about the stories that inspires his rhythms. The film powerfully captures impromptu freestyles that recount what it means to grow up having to negotiate police violence and street culture.
The directness of South Central Slums squares with the hardcore sound of Jay 305 lyrically. On hits like, Ghetto Tales, from DJ Mustard's 10 Summers album, he revives West Coast gangsta rap with his lyrical focus on the streets of LA. On his upcoming album, Taking All Bets, he mixes stories about girls and parties with tracks about gang violence in Southern California.
We caught up with the rapper to talk about his new album and to get an exclusive look at South Central Slums and explore the streets that made him.
What inspired you to make this documentary?
I wanted to give an understanding of the wars that are going on in the streets of South Central. There isn't any peace of mind because of all the negative things that are going on, and despite all of that, you have go to out and go hard for yours and strive to be the best at it. I also wanted to show places that were never seen. People don't go to South Central and talk to the people. I made this for the people in the street that don't have any hope.
Does the film try to also highlight the Black Lives Matter movement?
Yes, definitely, but that wasn't the reason why I did it. When I was younger the police beat me, and the police have harassed me all my life. This is nothing new. I'm rapping for everyone who died, and there's no filter when it comes to reality.
In the film you seem to tell stories by free styling, is that how you started rapping?
I started by telling stories about the block. I would call myself a blues artist if I could because I tell stories through rhythm. But when I was growing up, I didn't believe I could be a rapper, because my imagination was only as big as the block. I wasn't raised with the confidence living the street life. When I did my first song that really gave me the confidence and I just started going hard.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Growing up it was Ice Cube, Scarface, Tupac, and even Biggie. They spoke to me musically when I was younger.
You have collaborated with a lot of artists, what's your favourite track you hopped on?
Low key, it's the song, Bunkin, with Chris Brown and T.I, I like how I rode that beat. It's a feel good record and it was a lot fun to be me on the track.
What can we expect on the new album?
Reality rap. Music that talks about what we are all going through. I also have songs on the album about having sex with girls. So you will see different parts of my personality. I am a gangster but also have a player vibe. The album message is really, just go get it.
When Youzza Flip, blew up you went to jail, did that experience influence the album?
It didn't take jail for me to want to talk about the streets. But I wrote a song with YG called, Blame it On the Streets, that I wrote coming home from jail. That song was about how people from South Central and places like it end up in jail. I rap, "Don't blame my momma, blame it on the streets.' That's a lot of people's experience, and I'm saying blame it on society, it's not our fault we didn't create places like South Central.
What tracks are you most excited about on Taking All Bets?
I got a song called, Morning Thugs, which is essentially about how nobody gave me nothing. But it's also about my community because we are more than what we are portrayed as. We are more than just thugs. I got a song on the new album titled like the documentary, South Central Slums, that try to tell lyrically my people stories. But everything isn't all bad on the album. I got a song called, Yeah, Yeah, and it's fun.
Text Antwaun Sargent
Photography Willie T.