Jay Whiting (aka J. Foxx) had a biopsy performed on his right femur at the age of 13. His doctors were not sure what the mysterious growth in his leg could be, and were even more puzzled after the excavation. His bone sample was shipped from USC Medical Hospital in Los Angeles, CA to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. After a week’s worth of sleepless patience, anxious worrying and group prayers the test results were read to his mother over the phone. What was initially thought to be a Ewing’s tumor (a small, cancerous, blue cell tumor that most commonly affects young patients), turned out to be nothing more than an exaggerated stress fracture.
The Whiting family was no doubt relieved to hear the good news, but Jay saw his early brush with cancer as giving him a rare insight on life in general, especially at his young age. He soon found himself unable to relate to the typical concerns of a middle-school student. He saw a bigger picture, one which could only be expressed by poetry. Throughout his recovery process, Jay wrote his poetry, expressing his thoughts, feelings, struggles, questions and concerns about what he had experienced and how it had affected his outlook on the world around him.
As his writing skills improved, he began to think about putting his words to music in the form of hip-hop songs. Growing up, he and his older brother had always made music videos in their backyard and Jay now saw Hip-Hop as a medium that he could use to get his message and his talent out to the public.
He recorded his first song entitled, “Impurity” at the age of 14 and has never looked back. He began making mixtapes for his friends, placing his personal works amongst the popular music of the time. The positive responses from friends and students alike led him to form a Hip-Hop and R&B group called, Suburban Products, during his Junior year of high school. Suburban Products won endless talent shows and music contests in their local community of Thousand Oaks, CA. Since then, he and his brother, Scott (aka Scotty Green) have produced seven albums, with their 8th and most recent record on the way.
Now a recent University of Arizona college graduate, Jay is using his Communication degree to help promote his group, Class Project’s, first album entitled, “Rough Draft”. The group consists of Jay and his college dorm hallmate Noah Pollock on vocals with his brother Scott taking care of the beats and music. The group has been doing live shows in and around Tucson since August 2006. Most notably, the group opened for the multi-platinum selling Gym Class Heroes at the UofA’s historic Centennial Hall in September of 2006. The group plans on touring the country, promoting their freshman effort, for the duration of the Summer of 2007, in what they have deemed, the “Class Trip 2007″. The first stop on the tour is Sherpa-Derpa-Palooza, a student community-oriented music festival on UCSB’s campus in Isla Vista, CA.
Growing up, The Roots, Black Star, A Tribe Called Quest, Common, and the Dogg Pound were big influences on him.
His family has also had a huge influence on him, with his dad teaching him about the importance of work ethic and the value of a dollar and his mother giving him her unwavering love and support. She even acts as the group’s manager under the alias, Big M. His older brother, Scott is a certified audio engineer and has worked on the production of Busta Rhymes’ album “Genesis,” The Roots’ “Phrenology,” Christina Aguilera’s “Stripped” and several movie soudtracks as well, along-side world reknown super-producer, Scott Storch.
You definitely have to check out Class Project’s website at www.myspace.com/classproject
His main goal is just “to be appreciated as an artist.” With the comfort of college life now behind him, his goal is to continue to make music for a living. In his words, “if you can have an office job and make $30k a year out of school, why can’t you sell your record independently and try to make more than that on your own terms? i think it’s possible and I’m going to pursue it until I either see that it is possible, or I reach a conculsion that it’s not. Either way I’m in it to win it.”
PTP: One thing that comes to my mind with music is how an artist can get up in front of people and perform. How do you gather up the confidence to perform in a room with ten people in it, or in a venue with thousands?
J. Foxx: “It’s like my alter ego, the confidence comes from knowing that I stand behind and beleive in everything that I’m saying. it’s a matter of preparation. Noah and I are extremely prepared when we get up on stage, so why wouldn’t you be confident? I first have to get comfortable with my surroundings and then I can step in and perform.”
PTP: What’s the best part about being an artist?
J. Foxx: “Who can say that they’ve made a whole album. Let alone eight? It’s cool to point to something that you did and say that you did that and that it’s completely mine, from its conception to its editing, pre and post-production, I had a hand in all of that. I love every aspect of what I do and attack it like a full-time job. I might not be getting paid, but the way that I see it, the money’ll come. All of this hard work isn’t for nothing.”
PTP: One of the hardest things to do in music I would think is to have a topic to write a song about, and then writing about that thought and actually making it a song. Is there ever a time when you had trouble articulating a thought into a song, and how did you overcome it?
J. Foxx: “It happens all the time. I usually just go on to a new beat. Every beat has it’s own identity. If nothing strikes me on the first listen, I’ll just go on to the next one. Luckily, Scott has enough music where I can do that. He keeps my creative process going with his big selection.”
Here is some advice for other aspiring artists out there:
J. Foxx: “It’s important to not limit yourself because when you start to draw lines for yourself, you are telling yourself you can’t do something. You’d be amazed at what you can do if you knock those barriers down and allow yourself to truly be creative rather than pre-determining what you can talk about.”